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Klamath Indian Tribe of Oregon

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Interior Secretary Gale Norton said the administration is weighing proposals to relieve the parched Klamath Basin, following a Sept. 26 meeting with Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. But Norton stopped short of offering specifics about policy changes or aid that may be on the way. Smith offered a list of proposals to help the basin, including a breeding program for endangered sucker fish, habitat improvements and water conservation. The basin, which straddles the Oregon-California border, has been plagued this year by possibly the worst drought on record. A host of interests have clamored for water including tribes, farmers, ranchers, environmentalists and the fishing industry. Among Smith's proposals to boost the sucker fish population and survival would have the tribe set up a 10-year captive breeding program or hatchery. Separately, take measures to reduce the populations of non-native fish that prey on suckers. 'We are looking at trying to solve the problems,' Norton said. 'My focus is on things that will have a long-term impact, and it's like the analogy between giving a person a fishing pole or giving them a fish.'

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