Wednesday December 27, 2023

USA Today

Don Gentry stood under a pine tree on a late summer day overlooking the confluence of the Williamson River and Spring Creek. 

“We’re at the headwaters of the Klamath River, the spring creek that flows out of the ground up there,” said Gentry, pointing at the burbling waters that feed Upper Klamath Lake and eventually, the Klamath River. 

Gentry is the former chairman of the Klamath Tribes, who have been working to reclaim their reservation lands and waters in the Upper Klamath River Basin. They’re also trying to preserve the two fish species at the heart of their cultures.

The Klamath Tribes, the only tribe on the river holding a ratified treaty with the U.S., has a long relationship with Upper Klamath Lake and the Upper Klamath Basin. They own the most senior water rights in southern Oregon, and they’re not afraid to use those rights to address their issues with fish in their traditional lands. That has put them at odds with farmers who also rely on the river to grow potatoes, onions and other crops after the U.S. government invited them to homestead in the now-drained Lower Klamath and Tule lakes.

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