Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Fri, April 18 2014 at 4:51 PM, Updated: Fri, April 18 2014 at 9:30 PM
Klamath Falls, Ore. - An historic agreement is signed that could help to ease water disputes in the Klamath Basin.
The off-project water agreement is the third leg of a program that includes the KBRA, and removal of 4 dams from the Klamath River.
The agreement has the strong support of Senator Ron Wyden...
"I am going to introduce in the first few days of May, legislation in partnership with Senator Merkley to make this agreement law."
Governor Kitzhaber noted that many of those who protested the water shutoff of 2001 helped to hammer out the agreements...
"And I have been humbled...to have been able to participate in a process where I watched the people of this basin decide that the future does not have to be dictated by the past."
The agreement isn't without controversy.
Several Klamath Tribal members protested the signing, reflecting a close vote that has divided the tribe.
But U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell says the agreement can help to heal old wounds...
"The Upper Basin Agreement that we are going to sign today reflects the desire of the community to move beyond the water wars of the past, and agree on how to share the limited resources that we have for the future."
Today's signing was the result of efforts by a task force formed by Senator Ron Wyden.
The task force had a goal of cutting the costs of the agreement, while making it more acceptable to more parties - and improving its chances of Congressional passage.
About 250 people attended today's signing ceremony, which was held on the banks of Spring Creek at Collier Memorial State Park.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.