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Commentaries and editorials

Sounds Like Extortion to Me

by John F. Schurbon
Lewiston Tribune, July 11, 2004

On July 1, I attended an informational meeting in Orofino where attorneys from the State of Idaho, Nez Perce Tribe and federal government explained the proposed agreement concerning the Snake River Basin Adjudication.

This agreement is the result of five years of secret negotiation and was made public May 15. The actual negotiations remain secret; we may never know what pressures were applied to conclude this agreement.

You may recall the suit brought against the state of Idaho, where the Nez Perce Tribe in district court claimed 105 percent of the in-stream flows of the Snake, Salmon, Clearwater rivers and tributaries. The judgment of that case denied any water claim by the tribe, stating that their fishing right did not amount to a water right.

The court also ruled the reservation boundary was diminished in 1893 when the U.S. Congress purchased the surplus land and opened the former reservation for settlement.

In the SRBA agreement the Tribe would not appeal this decision to the state Supreme Court, thereby giving up their claims to the in-stream water in exchange for $193 million in land, water, cash and control of the Kooskia and Dworshak fish hatcheries.

This sounds like extortion to me. Let's settle this in court.

Related Pages:
Water Rights Settlement Draws a Fight by Jodi Walker, Lewiston Tribune, 8/6/4

John F. Schurbon, Mayor of Kooskia & chairman of the North Central Idaho Jurisdiction Alliance
Sounds Like Extortion to Me
Lewiston Tribune, July 11, 2004

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