Klamath Basin Water
OFF-Project land north of the Klamath Reclamation Project
There is a rush to get an agreement and legislation in the next few weeks to provide millions of dollars to destroy the dams, give land and money to the tribes, permanently downsize ag, and possibly get affordable power rates to irrigators. Contact your representatives with your opinions!
ARTICLES and LETTERS BELOW
A lawsuit claims Oregon water regulators have authorized a water transfer to a wildlife refuge without properly analyzing the impacts on Upper Klamath irrigators.
25 Years ago: Converting 3000 acres Tulana Farms to wetland to improve UK water quality, H&N May 1, 2021 This week in Klamath Basin History. "...Mark Stern, project coordinator for the Nature Conservancy, said a general agreement has been reached for the purchase of Tulana Farms, a 4700-acre tract at the mouth of the Williamson River. Most of the land would be flooded..." KBC NOTE: 97,160 acres of agricultural land has been converted into wetlands from ag as primary water usage through 2006 above Klamath Lake. Wetlands use nearly 2ce as much water as ag lands.
The Wood River Valley rancher...proposed selling 4,500 acre-feet of his water right to the refuge...CWA is in the process of lobbying the federal government to eventually purchase the full 30,000 acre-feet, which could cost up to $60 million. That could easily be funded by Congress... a 30,000 acre-feet delivery would allow Lower Klamath to support an additional 3,000 acres of grain, 1,000 acres of pasture, 2,000 acres of permanent wetlands and 4,600 acres of other wetlands..." Go HERE for the previous 100,000 acres of agricultural land acquisition by the U.S. government: "One ranch at a time, Government agencies and TNC promised that these farm and ranch acquisitions would save water, improve water quality, benefit fish, and store water for the rest of the irrigators and put more water into the Klamath River. The opposite is true..." KBC NOTE: Our refuges were designed to receive water after it was pumped through the Klamath Reclamation Project. This amount was substantial until the government-mandated instream-required-water-for-fish skyrocketed. Water for fish = less or no water for birds and 489 species of wildlife, and farmers. Thus, when the Klamath Project gets it's full delivery, the runoff water goes to the refuges. This Project water historically was in a closed basin until Reclamation blasted a tunnel through Sheepy Ridge to supply Lower Klamath Refuge and keep farms from flooding. Pacific Power raised Project power rate more than 2000%, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to pay the $100's of thousands power costs for D Plant to pump water into Lower Klamath Refuges from the Project.
So far this year there have been nine cattle killed in Klamath County, all in the Fort Klamath area."
During at least five of the kills, hazers had been active, driving around and staying overnight on the Wood River Valley pasture lands, trying to keep wolves away from cattle. But the human presence hasn’t deterred them...three or four wolves were seen standing 400 to 500 yards away while biologists examined a dead steer..."(Defenders of Wildlife) organization is looking at ways to provide technical support to ranchers, including ways to re-teach cattle defensive, herd instincts. They also offer financial support for range riders and other non-lethal deterrents..."
Rogue Pack kills another steer near Fort Klamath 8/17/20, H&N.
Wolves kill steer near Fort Klamath 7/24/20.
In 2018, OWRD established a rule that wells within one mile of a waterway in the Upper Klamath Basin will substantially interfere with surface waters and thus can be regulated off at the tribes’ request...The judge has now agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that Oregon’s water law doesn’t allow for such a restriction without OWRD going through the formal process... the agency would have to show that wells are substantially interfering with surface waters and determine how much water irrigators can sustainably withdraw from the aquifer each year...Without that opportunity, the agency unconstitutionally deprived them of property rights without due process, the judge said."
For the second year in a row, the Tribes in the Modoc Irrigation District have called for our irrigation and stock water to be shut off even through we had 140 percent normal moisture level this last winter..."
Oregon Water Resources Department is in the process of validating a call on Upper Klamath Lake tributaries, including the Wood River, filed by senior water right holders, the Klamath Tribes, on April 18." (KBC NOTE: 2019 is an extremely high water year)
“Pumping shutdowns by the Oregon Water Resources Department have been a source of controversy in the Upper Klamath Basin in recent years, with the agency facing multiple lawsuits arguing that regulated wells aren’t actually interfering with surface water rights... 'Overall, the rules are still bad for us, bad for the entire state of Oregon,' said Tom Mallams, an area farmer who sat on a “rules advisory committee” about the interim regulations. 'It’s unlikely OWRD will actually abide by a provision stating that the interim rules won’t set a precedent,' he said. 'Water Resources say they won’t or say they will, and they don’t stick to it. The final rules may again increase the number of wells subject to regulation while retaining provisions about the adverse impacts from groundwater pumping, hindering irrigators from challenging shutdowns in court,' said Mallams.'The OWRD likely reduced the distance in the interim rules to avoid court challenges in the meantime,' he said. 'That’s a very appealing carrot to the irrigators, but we know that’s just to put a stop to the litigation against them.' ”
The OWRD will ask the commission to consider adoption of proposed rules that manage groundwater and surface water in the Upper Klamath Basin."
Historical documents show Oregon Department of Water Resources (ODWR) has engaged in water theft from the historical ranches of the Upper Klamath Basin..."
* Commentary on OWRD / Oregon Water Resources Department well water mandates by Joan Sees, Beatty Oregon 2/11/19 "...OWRD is again picking the “science” that will give it the outcome that it wants.The proposed interim rules are not really protecting senior water rights but giving them all the water in the basin and putting the Upper Klamath Basin irrigators out of business..."
Local rules governing control of well use in the Upper
Klamath Basin: OWRD / Oregon Water Resource Dept.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, filed 1/29/19
"Tom Mallams, who represented the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association on the committee, said the agency’s statement about the connection between ground and surface waters was unproven and “erroneous.”
Fourth wolf kill found near Fort Klamath, H&N 10/30/18
Farmers, ranchers are 'endangered species,' H&N letter to the editor by Bill Boyd, Chiloquin 10/25/18
CORRECTION: In the article below, Capital Press edited out 1/2 of Mallam's sentence. The sentence should read: "Modeling experts have also examined OWRD's modeling and their analysis actually includes the word 'fraudulent.' " Capital Press left out of the sentence: "...and their analysis actually includes the word 'fraudulent.' "
KLAMATH BASIN: Oregon state agencies out of control, by Tom Mallams for Capital Press 10/13/18. "Their computer model claims wells interfere with surface water, if the well is within one mile of any waterway. This year’s shutoffs include 2 wells for the city of Klamath Falls, all of Bly and all of Chiloquin. Also shut off are many wells used for irrigating crops, watering livestock and some homes that use spring water. Additionally, wells used for major businesses including Jeld-Wen, Running Y Ranch Resort and Harbor Links golf course were issued shutoff notices. Each year, the number of wells being shut off grows...Problem is, OWRD, when pressured, actually admitted that the one mile number could be expanded...you are automatically deemed guilty unless you prove your innocence. Not exactly what the Constitution says. The way OWRD modeling is framed, it is literally impossible to prove your innocence. OWRD even admitted that this is indeed the case...Thousands of Oregon businesses and citizens will be denied their ability to survive in this openly hostile state governmental environment..."
Scientific examination would clarify that some wells do impact surface waters while others do not. OWRD seems to suggest that in all cases, at all times, and in all circumstances, groundwater wells impact surface flows...OWRD ought to know with certainty that an individual well is harming a senior water right-holder, before shutting-down specific water resources..."
The State has turned off all of our water including our wells! by Brandan Topham, Sprague River, Newsletter 5/7/18. "Most of the irrigation wells have been drilled since 1950...we have river data for 32 years before the wells were drilled. In those 32 years the average flow is 860cfs. Since 1951 the average flow is 1052cfs. That means since the wells have been drilled there is almost another 200 cfs in the rivers. That does not sound like the wells are drying up the rivers...Every few years they keep changing the rules to shut off more stuff. This year they figured out how to shut off ~140 wells in addition to what they have been shutting off in the past for the Klamath Tribes. Last year they shut off every thing even with river flows well above average..."
Letter from Ann SeCoy, Beatty, Oregon to
Klamath County Commissioners, Oregon State and Federal Representatives & Senators regarding 140 Upper Klamath ag wells shut off,
and responses from Senator Linthicum and Rep. Reschke 4/30/18.
3 Open houses for OWRD plans to shut off off project
...OWRD has control over whether it follows the law or not in regulating water users in the Klamath Basin. And irrigators in the Upper Klamath Basin are tired of the agency not carrying out its regulatory responsibilities..."
Klamath Tribe complaints regarding ranchers being allowed drinking water and water for livestock.
4/2/18. Watering crops and pasture on Upper Klamath private land is presently forbidden by Klamath Tribes.
Klamath Tribe document
intensions - putting land into tax-exempt trust, ...intends
to "buy back private lands....and secure funding for purchasing
retired water rights, conservation easements...assert tribes
senior water rights...expand gaming...exchange for federal
SONG-KILL THE LAND
Notice Regarding Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement, DOI Ryan Zinke 12/22/17
Upper Basin water: Talk or litigate? Which? Let's talk, by Randall Kizer for H&N 5/21/17. "The Wood River’s bank are full of water and, yet, the valley’s irrigators are shut off due to a call of (Klamath) tribal instream water rights...We agreed to just about everything the Tribes demanded...upper basin landowners have agreed to retire thousands of acres of irrigated land and built thousands of feet of fencing along streams, rivers and creeks...The Tribes are angry. They were promised funds for economic development, land in the Mazama Forest and dam removal in the KBRA..."
(Klamath) Tribes call for agreement termination, H&N 5/18/17. "At a minimum, Gentry said any framework for a settlement proposal must adequately address treaty resource reintroduction, restoration and protection resulting in sustainable and harvestable treaty resources that will support the meaningful exercise of treaty rights. 'This must include return of homelands and co-management of land and resources that affect treaty resources...' "
Tribal chairman defends water call, H&N 4/30/17. "Ranchers in the upper basin have criticized the call, claiming they will have a short window to irrigate and water their cattle this spring, and they have no water available the rest of the summer. Some believe this call could put them out of business....“We're just asking for justice,” Gentry said. “We're just trying to hang onto what has been reserved by treaty despite what has happened to us..."
OWRD responds to Tribes' call on (Klamath) water, H&N, 4/28/17. "I’m very disappointed that this call has been initiated by the Klamath Tribes and validated by the Oregon Water Resources Department at a time when our rivers are literally running over their banks,” (State Rep. E. Werner) Reschke said in a statement. “This decision negatively impacts farmers and ranchers up and down the basin and defies conventional logic. Oregonians lose when we allow one group to exercise exorbitant control over the rights of others..."
Tribes Issue Water Claim, Ranchers Fear the Worst, H&N 4/23/17. "In April 2014, ranchers and the Tribes signed the Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The ranchers agreed to retire 18,000 acres of land or 30,000 acre feet of water and do riparian repair work on the rivers in exchange for an allotment of water each year…At the end of February, the Tribes indicated to the ranchers they wanted to terminate the agreement..."
Water call should send message Basin needs a real answer, Area needs congressional help for a long-term plan, H&N View, 4/23/17. "...The local community should accept the fact that an overall settlement isn’t going to happen without a land settlement with the Tribes. Yes, land for water. Accept it and move on..." KBC ANALYSIS: H&N got it right...it's not about fish, it's "land for water". Tribes sold reservation. Tribes will call on irrigation water (like happening in this flood year) until they can get their land given back to them again, and the Klamath hydroelectric dams destroyed. Some call it 'blackmail.'
No major losses reported due to Sprague flooding, H&N 2/14/17
AUDIO: Must Listen:
5 1/2 minute summary of Upper Basin's
Klamath Settlement Agreement; audio by
Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett, Local News
with Paul Hanson on KFLS News/Talk Radio
1450, 4/1/13. "The nearly 100-page
agreement has seven objectives..."
***Dozens of Sprague River wells shut down by Klamath Tribal call on irrigation water, Senator Doug Whitsett 7/28/16.
"40 wells Oregon Water Resources Dept. plans to shut off this year. (So far)" This was sent to KBC 7/14/15. These are Upper Klamath Basin Wells.
The Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement, by Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett, posted to KBC 5/16/14: "Many farm and ranch owners... were advised that most who refused to sign would no longer be allowed to use either their surface or groundwater rights in most years. Many of those water rights date to 1864 priority. They were further advised that those who refused to participate would likely be subject to severe ...."
Threats (by Klamath tribal members) delay tribal meeting, H&N 5/16/14. "...some Klamath Tribes members have been campaigning to organize a hostile takeover of the meeting. Threats included chaining and padlocking doors to force the Tribal Council and meeting attendees to remove Gentry from the council and to overturn the results of a recent referendum vote. The referendum vote under attack was certified by the Klamath Tribes election board as in-favor of a water settlement, known as the Proposed Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement, between the Tribes and upper Basin irrigators." KBC NOTE: Upper Basin irrigators were not allowed a vote; they were only blackmailed as explained in Senator Doug Whitsett's newsletter.
Klamath Tribes of Oregon PRESS RELEASE: Threats against Klamath Tribal Council by Klamath Tribal membership, 5/16/14 (regarding Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement.)
Klamath water-sharing agreement gets funding, Sacramento Bee, posted to KBC 5/3/14.
A step forward - State and local dignitaries come together Friday at Collier Memorial State Park to sign the much-debated Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement, H&N 4/19/14. KBC NOTE: This "agreement" is part of the controversial KBRA, which destroys 4 Klamath River hydro dams providing power to 70,000 households, gives $45 million to the Klamath Tribes plus land, permanently downsizes agriculture, controls groundwater, plants endangered species in the Klamath Basin........
Protesters interrupt ceremony, Not all in agreement with new water pact, and Two groups weigh in against accord, H&N 4/19/14. KBC NOTE: Siskiyou County supervisors, home of 3 hydro dams planned for destruction, oppose the KBRA/dam removal agreements, Siskiyou citizens voted against the agreements, and Klamath County voted in 3 county commissioners, the state senator and state representative who all oppose the agreements.
Historic pact to be signed Friday, H&N 4/17/14.
Freedom of speech is key when talking irrigation, by Bruce Topham, Sprague River letter to H&N, posted to KBC 4/15/14. "This is what is currently being demanded of those of us who are ranchers in the north half of Klamath County. A foreign sovereign government (aka the Klamath Tribes) is requiring that for any water settlement to be met for irrigation or drinking water for our livestock we must surrender our right as Americans to express any opinions contrary to those advocated by the Klamath Tribes..."
Protesting the vote; Klamath Tribal members demand a new vote, H&N, posted to KBC 4/15/14.Klamath Tribes approve water pact, H&N, posted to KBC 4/15/14. "A $40 million economic development package for the Tribes...the Tribes also would receive $1 million a year for five years from DOI to care for tribal transition needs this year."
(Klamath) WATER PACT - Complexity frustrates some Tribe members, vote due by Wednesday, H&N 4/8/14.
TOTAL LOSS: $210,000. County pegs 2013 tax loss from dry land, refunds impact special districts, H&N, posted to KBC 3/16/14
Freedom of speech is key when talking irrigation, by Bruce Topham, Sprague River letter to H&N, posted to KBC 4/9/14. "This is what is currently being demanded of those of us who are ranchers in the north half of Klamath County. A foreign sovereign government (aka the Klamath Tribes) is requiring that for any water settlement to be met for irrigation or drinking water for our livestock we must surrender our right as Americans to express any opinions contrary to those advocated by the Klamath Tribes..."
AUDIO - Dr. Mike Newton and Senator Doug Whitsett, begin minute 30, I-Spy Radio 4/8/14, on Science of Upper Klamath Basin ranchers being denied surface and ground water with no proof of interference to stream water, yet studies support that groundwater use enhances stream flow. What is the government's excuse? KBC NOTE: If the Upper Basin irrigator does not agree with the Kitzhaber Task Force plan, they will be denied surface and groundwater to irrigate.
(Klamath) WATER PACT - Complexity frustrates some Tribe members, vote due by Wednesday, H&N 4/8/14.
(UN) Agenda 21 Takeover in the Klamath Basin, by Barbara H. Peterson 3/26/14 Farm Wars.
Ranchers grudgingly accept Klamath water-sharing pact, Capital Press, posted to KBC 3/18/14.
Details of (Klamath) water pact discussed; water, well restrictions with, without a settlement outlined, H&N, posted to KBC 3/12/14
Historic water pact; Tribes, irrigators settle divisive issues. $40 million will be given to the Klamath Tribes to create jobs, H&N 3/6/14. Includes schedule of meetings. "The Klamath Tribes will be allotted $40 million to establish an economic development plan and revitalize regional industry, including taking ownership of the 92,000-acre Mazama Forest as a condition of the KBRA. The Tribe also will receive $1 million annually from the Department of the Interior for a five-year period...Once a landowner has agreed to permanently retire rights, the government will have discretion whether to purchase the right or not....Tribal members will vote whether or not to accept the agreement...no general vote will be held to approve the pact (for non-tribal members)."
Ranchers, tribes reach deal on Klamath Water, Redding Record Searchlight 3/5/14. "Ranchers face an even tougher year this year, because with drought continuing and another irrigation shut-off likely, many no longer have any cattle to sell, added rancher Andrea Rabe"
Brandan Topham February Newsletter - OWRD to shut off surface and ground water to Upper Klamath ranches and farms, posted to KBC 2/23/14. "The State recently told us that they are going to shut off all of the surface water above Klamath Lake again this year....(OWRD) has decided that it will also shut off most of the wells above Klamath Lake."
Letter Virginia Topham from Sprague River wrote to Oregon Water Resources Director Phil Ward who will shut off Upper Klamath irrigation wells, February 2014. "Why are we being targeted for destruction? Your own people testified that they have no way to prove that we are interfering with surface water. In the prosecution of the Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials after WWII their only defense was that 'they are just following orders.' "
Klamath Water Settlement deadline missed,
H&N 2/14/14. "If
approved by the Klamath Tribal Council and a
host of irrigators, the AIP will become one
component of the proposed legislation that
will cover the upper Basin; the Klamath
Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) including
Klamath Reclamation Project irrigators and
the Klamath Hydro Settlement Agreement with
PacifiCorp, which may involve removing four
hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River."
< Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett and Rep. Gail Whitsett Science of shutoffs, well water monitoring law aims to clarify ownership, H&N 2/7/14. “We fully support the OWRD authority to regulate wells that are materially interfering with senior water rights. However, we believe the state should be required to prove that the use of irrigation wells is materially and measurably harming a water right holder with a superior priority date,” Gail Whitsett said."
Lawmakers hear (Klamath) water pact update, Rep. McLane reviews Cover Oregon, LaMalfa votes against omnibus bill, H&N 1/24/14. "If approved by the Klamath Tribal Council and a host of irrigators, the AIP will become one component of proposed legislation that will cover the upper Basin, the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) including on-project irrigators, and the Klamath Hydro Settlement Agreement with PacifiCorp, which may involve removing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River..."(Rep. Whitsett) said OWRD has listed more than 200 groundwater irrigation wells that may be shut off if the Tribes, which have time immemorial rights, make a call on the water."
Deadline passes. No agreement yet on (Klamath) water pact, H&N, posted to KBC 1/21/14
Upper Basin water pact deadline this Friday. Groups near final agreement; next step is bill for Congress, H&N 1/14/14. "Some landowner participation is expected through reduction of agricultural water use by 30,000 acre feet. The reduction will be in the form of permanent buyouts, or “retirement,” of some upper Basin irrigators’ water rights along the Williamson, Wood and Sprague rivers...the tribes said they will reduce the minimum level of water they require in rivers above the lake to protect fisheries in return for participation by landowners in riparian area restoration. "
2013 a costly year for Upper Basin ranchers, H&N 1/2/14. "Like other Upper Basin ranchers, Duarte’s water was shut off this year ... when the Klamath Tribes and Klamath Project irrigators made calls for water in early June. That meant all the Upper Basin ranches went without irrigation water this summer. 'We’ve got a $90,000 hole in our account this year...' "
Water issues will likely dominate session work, Senator Doug Whitsett, posted to KBC 12/31/13. "The Oregon Water Resources Department has made clear its intentions in 2014 to shut down as many as 130 irrigation wells due to alleged interference with surface water rights...."
KWUA, officials review pact, H&N, 12/14/13. "Conditions of the AIP include reducing agricultural water use by 30,000 acre feet through permanent buy out, or “retirement,” of some upper Basin irrigators’ water rights. Jerry Jones, who owns 20 acres in the upper Basin, said irrigators who are not in desperate financial straits are unlikely to sell their water rights or vote in favor of the AIP. 'Not everybody has a gun to their head. It’s not going to work,' he said." KBC NOTE: according to the last Task Force meeting, the permanent downsizing of water rights is "voluntary." However, if they do not agree to the terms of the KBRA/dam removal/tribal land acquisition mandate, then they probably will continue to have their off-project water shut off like they did this year.
Task force work winds down; Power costs left unresolved Basin water dispute close to settlement. Deal between Tribes, irrigators key to legislation H&N, 12/4/13. "initial estimates for the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) delivering inexpensive power to off-project users may not be as cost effective as planned....“We do not have and will not have this worked out for a year or two before we know exactly what the final solution will be,” he said...the tribe also hopes to acquire a 92,000 acre Mazama tree farm for economic development, which would be funded by the proposed congressional legislation. Early last summer, the tribe called for its water right, forcing the shutoff of hundreds of water users in the upper Basin. About 100,000 acre feet of water was shut off. The economic impact of that was estimated to be up to $500 million annually..."
VIDEO of Governor's final Task Force meeting to implement the KBRA/KHSA re: Klamath River hydro dam removal, 12/3/13. 127 minutes.
FINAL Report and Recommendations from the Klamath Basin Task Force to Senators Wyden and Merkley, Congressman Walden, and Governor Kitzhaber 12/3/13. Task Force received this report 12/2/13 and had one week to give input. The public did not receive final 'draft' before 12/3/13 to comment on.
Final Task Force meeting today; Proposed water pact to be made public; solutions for refuges remains unclear, followed by Tribes, irrigators sign water pact; Details of ‘Agreement in Principle’ topic of public meetings 12/3/13
Klamath County Water Crisis by Heather Smith Thomas, Western Montana Water Rights, posted to KBC 11/23/13. "One of the most devastating government “takings” in the history of the U.S. is in progress in Klamath County, Oregon. This movement to get farmers and ranchers off their privately owned lands has been brewing for many years but came to a head after a sequence of events this spring and summer shut off long-time water rights and deprived landowners of their ability to irrigate or water their livestock."
Rough water year ending, Irrigation stops for 2013, but concerns continue; 350 water users shut off, H&N, posted to KBC 10/22/13
(Klamath) Task Force back online, resumes operation with government; next meeting date not yet determined, H&N 10/18/13. (Klamath and Siskiyou Counties are not at the table, and are not in agreement, with the KBRA dam removal agreements).
An alternative Klamath Task Force, interview by Jefferson Public Radio with Tom Mallams, Klamath County Commissioner, posted 10/10/13.
RACISM AND LAND THEFT, OREGON-STYLE by Erika Bentsen 8/28/13
Science of fish mortality should be challenged, H&N 8/23/13 letter by Jerry Jones, Chiloquin
Ranchers rally for water, Protesters say their livelihood could be ruined by shutoffs by SAMANTHA TIPLER, H&N 7/1/13
Klamath Basin Water Rally 7/1/13
"Today, a portion of the water on our ranch and all of the water for a neighboring ranch that we rent was shut off, thanks to the government and the Klamath tribes."newsletter from Brandan Toppin, Flying T Salers Ranch, Sprague River 6/21/13
Devastating results from (Klamath) water regulations, June 27, 2013 letter by Edward Bartell, H&N
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