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Congressman Doolittle comes to Tulelake
August 11, 2001, KBC News Report --quotes from Newell press brief

photo by KBC
Congressman Doolittle comes to Newell airport,  Macy's Flying Service,  for a Press Brief August 8, 2003.  He's boarding an airplane for an area tour with John Crawford, local farmer.  Meeting with local residents, he was able to see and hear first hand what dilemmas Project farmers are dealing with in 2003. 
"It seems like basically its a problem caused by bad scientists and incompetent bureaucrats," remarked Doolittle in one of his opening statements about our water crisis at the Newell Airport, just south of Tulelake, CA.

This was the site of a press brief with Congressman John Doolittle, who represents California's 4th Congressional District, including Modoc County.

"You are the experts....I wanted to come up here to get more familiar with this...I figure ... the more knowledge personally I have, the better."

The Tulelake Growers Association president Marty Macy introduced The Congressman to the local press, a few irrigators, Klamath Water Users director Dan Keppen, and representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR).

John Crawford, Tulelake farmer, educated him on leaseland farming on our refuge. "Regarding the leaselands, after 2001, we've been in a damage control mode since then...physical damage that occurred to those farmlands....because of the intrusion of noxious weeds.  By not having crops there in 2001 is something we'll be dealing with the rest of our lives."


"We've mended fences with the USFWS since 2001 when we worked together in leaseland burning program...We look forward to having a new refuge manager on task next week...he has some ties to the community and we look forward to working with him...We're going to view it as an opportunity...to turn this refuge agricultural relationship into a showcase instead of disgrace like it may be right now..."

Doolittle, "Are you getting the cooperation you'd hope for from the (Bush) administration?"

Crawford, "The administration I think is very much on board on those issues, however, I still believe there is a disconnect between this administration and its Dept of Interior at scientific levels and lower levels in the decision making process, particularly when it comes to USFWS and there are still some bureaucrats left over from the previous administration that are making decisions. There lies the disconnect between the Bush administration and its own DOI.

Deb Crisp, executive director of Tulelake Growers Association, explained the successful leaseland program and how it benefits wildlife and the local economy, bringing $20 million in farm revenue.

Crawford, "It's also one of the few government programs that's self reliant.  The program pays for itself."

Doolittle, "I've discovered that government programs that pay for themselves involving the commercial use of resources are highly offensive to extreme environmentalists.  That's why they've destroyed the timber program.."

Nick Macy of Macy's Flying Service showed a map to the Congressman of Tulelake Irrigation District 60,000+ acres,  and the lease land, 16,000 acres. The leaseland was destined to be homesteaded.  In 1964 the Kuchel Act agreement called for farming this land like you own it without living there.

John Crawford, "The ag support was from rice farmers in Central Valley that knew grain would hold waterfowl here until after rice harvest to keep the geese out of their rice fields.  Kuchel called for 75% cereal grains and 25% row crops for birds.13 pumps take water off farmland...water is reused many times."  Our farms are habitat for wildlife.

Crawford continued that we use only 10% of the pesticides on leaseland as elsewhere in California. Crisp added, "I have a stack of studies done by USFWS looking for pesticide residue and damage to wildlife on the refuge and they have found nothing," These studies were done through a period of several years.

Keppen explained how the B.O. and operations plan are still revolving around Hardy reports regarding river flows. It was explained that, with these flows which are higher than historical flows, on many years, even without irrigation, these extreme flows could not be met.

Doolittle, "I wish we had NMFS here. I'd like to ask them why they're using that bad science."..."It seems peculiar to me that when given the conflicts that Hardy had that were undisclosed at the time and when you have the NRC come out with a report, why wouldn't we entirely throw out the Hardy scheme. Why would we keep any of it?"

Christine Karas, BOR, expressed appreciation of the water saved by basin irrigators for downstream interests.  She also explained a conservation program that BOR is designing.

Doolittle asked, "I understand the Bureau precipitously recharacterized the nature of the water year that we were experiencing here and that this is what occasioned almost a total loss of water this year.  Why would they make such an erratic decision like that?

Karas explained it was based on what they projected for the rest of the season.

Doolittle, "What bizarre policy could actually produce a situation where the water year is upgraded where there's more water available, that actually means less water for the farmers.  That's completely absurd and ridiculous!"

Following the Newell press briefing, The Congressman, accompanied by John Crawford, had an aerial tour of the Tulelake Basin.






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