Return of the Buffalo

 Mark Wilkinson 

 During spring break I attended an OSU course in the Klamath Basin. The focus of the class was to learn as much as possible about the water issue in the Klamath Basin. Nineteen students and four instructors spent an ultra busy week interviewing stake-holders from the area. The emphasis was on listening and assimilating the information that the stake-holders shared with the class. The stake-holders came from a cross-section of people that live in the Klamath Basin. They included spokespeople from the Klamath tribe, ranchers, business people, law enforcement personal, OSU extension service spokes people, health care professionals, newspaper editors, and representatives from the Hispanic community. The one thing that stood out was that there is an impasse. No individual stake-holder has the power to establish their agenda concerning the water issue. The Kla-Mo- Ya Casino has given the Klamath Tribe a financial power base.  “The Return Of the Buffalo” is a phrase used by Native Americans that refers to the casinos. The Endangered Species Act is also a major player in the water issue as this deals with the C’uamm . It is one of the most powerful forms of legislation in the United States. The ranchers are fighting for their livelihoods and are in this for the long haul. After listening to the many stake-holders it seems that the only way through this impasse will be reached by mutal co-operation by all parties concerned. The communication amongst these groups at the moment is good. All the stake-holders realize that unless a viable form of compromise can be reached than everyone loses. At stake is the future of the children. They are the most important stakeholders in this water issue.