Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Fighting for Our Right to Irrigate Our Farms and Caretake Our Natural Resources

Canadian irrigators ask Basin farmer to address ESA issues, by Kehn Gibson, The Tri-County Courier  February 19, 2003

Steve Kandra, a Merrill farmer long active in fighting for the right to farm in the Klamath Basin, traveled to Calgary, Canada to speak Jan. 24 at the annual conference of the Alberta Irrigation Projects Association.

The Association, a collection of 13 irrigation districts covering 1.3 million acres of irrigated farmland in Canada — comprising 70 percent of the irrigated farmland in the entire country — sought to hear Kandra’s views and experience in dealing with the impacts of species protection legislation.

According to Kandra, our neighbor to the north recently passed national legislation called the Species at Risk Act, and the irrigation districts wanted to hear first hand how the Endangered Species Act came to impact the Klamath Basin.

"Those folks are very aware and concerned about the long term impacts of this new legislation, and wanted to learn how it came to hit the Klamath Project so severely," Kandra said. "People were very interested in hearing our story, even the bureaucrats, because they want to avoid the conflicts we developed here."

Kandra said he soon noticed a major difference in how provincial officials, the equivalent of our state officials, viewed agriculture in Canada.

"I was very impressed in how the provincial government saw agriculture as an integral part of their region’s economic development," Kandra said. "Here we are often told farming is benign economically, while there agriculture is seen as an integral part of their long term economic plans."

Evidence of the difference in how agriculture is viewed economically, Kandra said, was in the fact the provincial government pays 85 percent of irrigation project costs as a matter of course, and nearly all of the communities in Alberta gather their municipal water supplies from irrigation districts.

Kandra has spoken with literally hundreds of people throughout the United States since 2001, and will continue to do so, he said.

"It helps to put a face to the story," Kandra said. "The people can get the information, but I can stand up and say, ‘Hey, I’m one of those people you are reading about.  kgibson@cot.net 


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