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White House official brings encouragement to the Klamath Basin,
4/25/03, KBC News

David Anderson, a key player in President Bush's Klamath Basin Federal Working Group, was the featured speaker at the 49th Annual Meeting of KWUA at the Oregon Institute of Technology on April 24th.  "This President is so aware if the importance of agriculture......  President Bush often asks about your well being."

These were some of the encouraging statements brought to the Klamath Basin, attended by over 250 people.  Anderson is the Associate Director of Agriculture and Public Lands Issues for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). He is the CEQ Chairman's designated lead on Healthy  Forest Initiative, and the Klamath Basin  Federal Working Group. Anderson provided an overview of the Klamath Basin actions undertaken by the Administration in the past year.

 Anderson stated that, as we have seen, President Bush is a 'doer'. Since the Federal Working Group's formation, they immediately began identifying sources of benefit to the endangered fish.  A multimillion dollar fish screen was built, "on time", with the efforts of the Bureau of Reclamation, with the participation of KWUA.  "What has been working for this President? A Congressional delegation, committment and forsight." 

The Dept. of the Interior, Dept. of Ag, and several agencies attend all the meetings, "It is the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever worked on." They are very determined and organized, focusing on what each agency can bring to the table.  "If we don't integrate with private efforts, we won't succeed.....and we need both states to work together." "We assure you that decisions will be based on sound science." This was refreshing to hear from the locals, since much of the media and environmental news propagate untrue 'news' about the Klamath Basin, and invent 'science' to accomplish their goals. In response to a question he stated,  "A judge agreed that the Trinity is an important component"...to the water solutions in the Klamath watershed.

The meeting was opened by Claud Hagerty, Malin farmer and preacher, praying for the Bush administration, honesty and sound science.

Bill Kennedy, KWUA board member, was the Master of Ceremonies.  Bob Gasser and Rob Crawford presented awards to John Walker and Tim Fought of the Herald and News for their great job in presenting impartial news reports to the public.

Anders Tomlinson was presented a special award by Deb Crisp, executive director of the Tulelake Growers Association, for his endless efforts in documenting the Klamath water situation.  Throughout the evening he presented documentation of the huge salmon run on the Klamath River in 2002.  He interviewed fishermen and fishery workers exclaiming what a huge run of salmon there were last summer, and showed the overcrowded fish.  The fish are so plentiful that the limits of fish to be taken are increased for 2003. He provided a video and a slide show,  validating the true details of the 2002 fish die off, and also the current water situation and effects of the 2001 water cut-off.

Troy Tidwell, Washington D.C, gave an update, as did Paul Simmons, KWUA attorney.  Simmons updated us on the many lawsuits against the irrigators by environmental groups.  We are being sued for irrigating our crops, using water that the Tribes feel is all theirs to 'hunt and gather' from, for spraying weeds so water can flow down ditches and crops can grow in fields.  In the Tribes litigation, what began as a right for them to 'hunt and gather' to maintain a 'modest standard of living', has become, if anyone else needs water, they have to prove that the tribes don't need that water.  (In the situation of Tulelake, it was a closed basin--the water never left the basin before the diversion. Last summer it was demanded by the  DOI that TID pump their untested aquifer to go down the river for "tribal trust" which resulted in some wells going dry. The alternative was possible getting the irrigation water shut off.)

KWUA president Dave Solem addressed the audience, describing the positive efforts the irrigators and BOR have taken to improve the fish situation. Thousands of acre feet of water have been taken from the irrigators already in 2003 in the form of a water bank, there is presently a lot of water available, hundreds of conservation projects have been accomplished by irrigators, and a fish screen was just constructed. Yet the PCFFA and other environmental groups are suing the irrigators, trying to cripple agriculture, "They need to channel their efforts to help find solutions, rather than fighting the irrigators." "We irrigators support the fishermen".  The NRC chairman Bill Lewis stated that Cooperman and Markle of OSU have shown that their main purpose is to devalue the NAS committee, because the committee recognizes that water levels are not amongst the factors that will save the fish. Then we have Congressman Thompson dumping dead fish on the steps of the capital, blaming the Klamath Project for fish that died 200 miles away by the Trinity Diversion.

Dan Keppen, KWUA executive director, showed facts of the 2002 fish die off.  He presented facts of the fatal water temperature of the Klamath River at the time, and science of David Vogel, fisheries scientist of 28 years.  His documented facts made it clear that the Klamath Project, providing 2 % of the watershed in the Klamath River, could not have been responsible for a fish die off by the ocean.  The fact that Trinity Water, which is cold water, diverts up to 90% of the water near where the die-off occurred, was completely overlooked by California Dept. of Fish and Game.

Keppen explained the history of the project, with Tomlinson's photo slide show, allowing the audience to see the reality. It showed where the river would historically dry up on low water years before the dams.  It showed Tulelake, which historically did not flow down the Klamath River.  Keppen described numerous conservation accomplishments by irrigators in the basin, and slides showed the bountiful fields of produce and wildlife, which coexist together.

Earl Donosky, TID manager, closed the meeting.

Dena Keppen and Deb Crisp provided coffee and cookies.  Videos were available to buy in the lobby of 'Homesteading in a Promised Land' video.  Over 80 residents in the Tulelake basin, with the filmmaker Anders Tomlinson, tell the story of the settling of Tulelake, from when the lake filled the basin, up til 2002.  The settlers tell their story.

The audience was filled with hope, prayer, and encouragement that honesty and sound science will lead our administration and courts in deciding the fate of the Klamath Basin. Thousands of people, farms and ranches, businesses,  refuges and our rural economy are at stake.

 

 

 

 

 

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