I would like to give you my thoughts about the
possibility of the Bureau of Reclamation's
purchasing the Barnes Ranch in Fort Klamath for the
purpose of storing 50,000 acre-feet of water.
To store that amount of water on 2,821 acres would
require a dike around the property perimeter 25 feet
in height. Considering the way peat ground subs
(percolates water), raising a 2,818-acre lake is
likely to create seepage and inundation of the
adjacent ranches, one of which I own.
In the early spring, my ranch and two neighboring
ranches pump water away from our ranches to lower
the water table, so the land will grow the grass we
need for our cattle to graze.
I would estimate the perimeter of 2,821 acres as
being about nine miles. Has anyone estimated the
cost of constructing nine miles of dikes? Dikes with
the necessary riprap rock to combat all the wave
action of the water caused by the frequent winds
that blow across the Fort Klamath valley?
It is my guess that the initial cost of purchasing
the ranch is just the beginning of money that will
need to be spent to hold back 50,000 acre-feet of
As you know, the owners of the Barnes Ranch are
asking $9.1 million for this property they purchased
for approximately $1.6 million about 10 years ago.
According to an editorial in the Klamath Falls
Herald and News, the Bureau appraised the ranch at
$4.55 million. The American Land Conservancy has
come up with an appraisal of $7 million. That type
of discrepancy in land value appraisal is beyond
making any sense.
Considering the purchase price of the Barnes Ranch
and the potential cost of construction and
maintaining the dikes and the likely problems this
project will create for the adjacent ranches, I can
see no cost-effectiveness and few positive benefits
from this proposed taxpayer-funded project.
I am of the opinion that the federal government has
bought enough land that is then removed from the
local tax roll. This project should not go forward.
Lewis M. Mathis
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