Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Barron Bail, BLM area manager, and John  Crawford, Wood River committee member and local farmer, comment on Wood River acquisition article of July 16, 2003. 

From BLM's Barron Bail:
I read your account of the recent tour of various wetland/storage projects
in the Klamath Basin.  I found it very interesting, but I want to correct
one statement in the article.  In the article you indicate the Wood River
Ranch, now the Wood River Wetlands, was acquired for storage.  That is
incorrect.  I was the BLM Area Manager  when the proposal for BLM to
purchase the ranch was first presented to the agency and can shed some
light on why BLM was asked to acquire the property.

The Klamath Basin Water Resources Advisory Committee (KBWRAC) approached
the BLM in late August/early September 1992 and proposed that the BLM
purchase the Wood River Ranch.   The KBWRAC was a group representing
diverse interests appointed by the Klamath County Commissioners and the
Supervisors of Modoc and Siskyou County.  It is my understanding that
originally they wanted the Wood River Ranch acquired to test theories that
wetland restoration would improve water quality in Klamath Lake.  An
earlier proposal involved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the
managing agency, but the KBWRAC couldn’t reach consensus over USFWS
management.  At that point the BLM was suggested as an alternative land
management agency to acquire the property.

The note I sent my boss the day after meeting with the KBWRAC includes the

          “Their proposal is for the BLM to use money planned for
          acquisition in the Steens to acquire the Wood River Ranch in
          Klamath County.  The WRR is 3,000 acres on the north end of
          Agency Lake, between the Wood River and Seven Mile Creek.  The
          WRR owner apparently has terminal cancer and would like to move
          quickly to sell the property.

          The ranch is presently pasture land and if acquired by BLM they
          would want us to convert the land back into a natural marsh for
          the benefit of water quality and the endangered sucker fish.
          Scientific studies would be strongly encouraged.  If possible
          they would also like to see other uses like recreation take

At that time water storage was less of an issue then it is currently.
While there may have been discussion of storage, I don’t remember it, and I
can’t find it mentioned in my notes.  The first project I remember that
targeted storage was the Bureau of Reclamation acquisition next to the Wood
River Wetland.

There was discussion about how the BLM would involve local interests in
planning, and a very active debate over the question of leaving the dikes
in place and doing active management, or removing the dikes and letting
nature take over.  To resolve this issue BLM committed to a very open
planning process with significant local involvement.  The plan that
resulted from that effort defined the goals you listed in your article.
That plan has also directed BLM management of the Wood River Ranch.

I hope this information is useful to you.  I consider the years I spent
living in the Klamath Basin and working with the people of the Basin as a
highlight of my life.  As you can tell, I still try and follow issues in
the Basin, and I hope that solution that meets the needs of all the
residents of the Basin can be found.

Barron Bail.

From committee member and Tulelake farmer John Crawford:

John Crawford said that the goals for Wood River Ranch, in 1993, were:

"1.  improve water quality with wetland filtration

2.  monitor those lands extensively to prove water quality by wetland filtration

3.  additional storage

4  improved habitat for suckers

5.  allow no net loss of private land.

None of these goals were achieved!"




Page Updated: Saturday February 25, 2012 05:27 AM  Pacific

Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001, All Rights Reserved