BOR acting commissioner tours Basin
New biological opinion, future of water
Herald and News by Holly Dillemuth 7/19/17
Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen
traded a suit and tie for jeans and boots Tuesday morning as
he toured the C Canal flume replacement project along
Highway 39 during his first trip to Klamath Falls.
fourth-generation rancher from Western Montana, Mikkelsen is
no stranger to public lands and water issues, however.
probably the only Reclamation commissioner that knows how to
steer a wheel line,” Mikkelsen said.
Mikkelsen, appointed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan
Zinke in March as a point person for the Klamath Basin, is
touring the area this week to get acquainted with key
stakeholders in the area’s agricultural community and the
Mikkelsen met up with the Klamath Irrigation District board
of directors at the KID office Tuesday morning before
setting out to tour the C Canal project site. Mikkelsen and
Washington, D.C. aides navigated canal banks in sport
utility vehicles to the site of the project. Mikkelsen
expressed interest in the C Canal project, and issues
associated with agriculture and natural resources in the
charge from the Interior as the department lead is to try to
resolve the issues in the Klamath Basin,” Mikkelsen said.
dealt with challenging issues for 30 years, but I’m not sure
that I’ve seen anything more challenging. I’m talking about
the entire Basin.”
Nettleton, manager of the Klamath Basin Area Office of the
BOR, as well as other local BOR officials, toured the C
Canal project alongside Mikkelsen.
just pleased to have him here and have the opportunity to
talk to people, and also get his perspective and the goals
of the new administration,” Nettleton said.
visiting with him about some of the budget requirements for
some of the projects and so on, familiarizing him with some
of the challenges that we’re working through as far as the
reconsultation process and so on. The 2013 biological
opinion – we’re re-consulting on that to develop a new
rewriting of a new biological opinion carries a heavy
significance for those involved in the local agriculture
industry, including KlD board members.
re-consultation (of a biological opionion) is the 600-pound
gorilla in the room as far as we’re concerned,” said Dave
Cacka, a KID board member. “We can at least maintain some
certainty or we can get hammered.”
Kliewer, KID vice chairman, also emphasized a need for
“water certainty” for the Klamath Reclamation Project, as
the biological opinion will serve as a guiding document for
water resource allocation.
Kliewer said a large focus for the meeting for the district
was to voice concerns of the area’s aging infrastructure,
which includes “everything that is used to deliver water,”
such as the canal system.
Mikkelsen also met with Klamath Tribes Chairman Don Gentry
Monday afternoon, as well as land owners in the Wood River
valley. He will continue to tour the Basin this week.
Mikkelsen confirmed part of his visit is to discuss the
future of the Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement,
which is near termination contingent on a negative notice
from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Mikkelsen didn’t
provide any specifics, but emphasized the issues would
continue to be discussed.
going to have more discussions with some of the Upper Basin
irrigators later today,” Mikkelsen said.
just have to keep talking, that’s all we’re doing right now.
This will be a challenging issue.”
said he called the meeting between he and Mikkelsen
“Really appreciated him and his commitment to work with the
Tribes on issues affecting the Tribes,” Gentry said. “I feel
that he’s going to be a positive person to work with.”
and KID board members also expressed appreciation for
Mikkelsen’s visit, and his experience in conflict
resolution, ranching and natural resources.
think it was nice to hear that he’s a fourth-generation
farmer and knows how to move water, and his expertise is in
conflict resolution. Anytime we can make these personal
relationships with the commissioner and people who are up in
the bureau, it’s beneficial for the district.
he can put a picture and a face to this area so it’s not
just a place on the map,” Cacka said.
Mikkelsen said he plans to return to the area.
be back,” Mikkelsen said.
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