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USDA, Klamath Tribes reach agreement

In the Town Hall meeting of Tuesday, May 14, it was announced that the Klamath Tribes have verbally agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture with regards to the construction on the Geothermal Project.

For over a month the USDA has been locked in negotiations with the Tribe representatives to determine a way to mitigate damages to cultural resources. Finally, a deal has been reached. All of the parties involved and affected include the USDA, the Town of Lakeview, the Burns Paiutes, the State Historical Society, the University of Oregon, and, of course, the Klamath Tribes.

The deal stipulates that UO will supervise the project for its duration. In addition, UO and the Natural History Museum will study whatever artifacts are dug up. Students from the University will participate in the supervision, most likely as part of their archeological courses, but that has yet to be confirmed. Much to the satisfaction of the Town, the Memorandum’s estimated cost is $145,500, whereas the Town originally planned for $155,000. Even better is the indication that the $145,500 estimate is more liberal than it is conservative, according to Town Mgr. Ray Simms. The purpose of the Memorandum is to set out in advance how to determine what will happen to the known cultural sites that will be discovered.

Additionally, the parties involved all want to lessen the damage done, especially Lakeview.

“We are very aware of the cultural significance of the area,” said Simms, “and we have no intention of causing any damage to the community. We look forward to working with the Tribes and getting started on the project.”

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