Chiloquin, OR- On Thursday, December 21, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke called Klamath Tribal Chairman Don Gentry to notify him directly of his intention to issue a Negative Notice to terminate the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement (UKBCA). Upon publication in the Federal Register on December 28, the Comprehensive Agreement was effectively terminated. The Negative Notice, issued in accordance with the Tribe’s request, is the Secretary’s determination affirming that one or more of the conditions of the UKBCA could not be satisfied and was the final step, unless challenged, to terminate the UKBCA.
The UKBCA was rendered unworkable by Congress’ failure to enact legislation approving the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) by its 2015 deadline, resulting in termination of the KBRA. The UKBCA built heavily on the framework contained in the KBRA, and key provisions of the UKBCA are simply unachievable without the KBRA in place.
As stated by Chairman Gentry: “The two agreements reflected the proactive and sustained efforts of Klamath Tribal members and their leadership to protect, restore and promote restoration of Tribal treaty resources, especially salmon, steelhead and sucker fisheries lost to installation of the Klamath River dams and past and current agricultural practices. Though the Klamath Tribes dedicated several years and expended considerable resources to negotiate and promote legislation of the agreements, termination of the UKBCA was necessary. The Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement was never intended to be a standalone agreement and could not be implemented without legislation of the KBRA.”
According to Chairman Gentry: “The Tribal Council will continue to actively engage and work with the Tribes’ General Council members to plan a course for restoring sustainable and harvestable treaty resources vital to the exercise of our Treaty Rights and how best to move forward.”
The Klamath Tribes initiated the Negative Notice process in January 2016, and the Interior Department recognized in April 2016 that a “terminable event” under the UKBCA had occurred. The Tribes and other parties to the Agreement then spent nearly a year engaged in the meet-and- confer and mediation processes required by the Agreement to identify a workable solution to avoid its termination. But despite all parties’ good faith efforts, it was affirmed that the UKBCA could not be maintained as a standalone agreement.
“The Tribes appreciate the Secretary’s work in reaching this decision, in particular the collaborative efforts of Interior’s Alan Mikkelson meeting with the Klamath Tribes and other stakeholders in the Basin, and for hearing the Tribes’ concerns and ultimately issuing the Notice.” said Chairman Gentry.