Herald and News
By ANITA BURKE
Business and agricultural leaders Thursday announced the
formation of a nonprofit organization to coordinate efforts to find a
solution to the water crisis — including possible contributions from
The organization, Klamath Water Foundation, intends to collect
funds and bring together the diverse groups seeking resolution in
the water issue, organizers told a small gathering of people under
the spreading trees at Veteran’s Park.
Lynan Baghott, owner of Shasta Travel Shoppe and president of
the foundation, told of her work to bring attention to the Klamath
Basin’s struggles in the face of irrigation restrictions — the
Mother’s Day March, the Bucket Brigade, lobbying trips to Salem —
and the phone call from Farm Aid that helped keep her going.
“Willie Nelson himself is contacting people to help air our story,”
Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Somerville, Mass-based Farm
Aid, said the organization founded by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and
John Mellencamp to help family farmers has been talking with
people in the Klamath Basin.
“We realize this is a long-term problem that calls for a long-term
solution,” she said. “Our overriding concern is that we can be part
of that solution. We don’t want to jump in and exacerbate the
Mugar described Farm Aid’s current involvement in the Klamath
Basin as in “a very heavy listening phase.”
The Klamath Water Foundation, with several months of
organizational work behind it, is in the preliminary stages of
Providing a reputable and accountable place for people locally and
nationally to donate to was among its first orders of business,
“One of our main goals is to get funding from grants, corporations
and rich folks who can endow us to meet our needs,” Baghott
said. The foundation then plans to distribute funds to efforts such
as lawsuits and special events.
Randy Shaw, a Klamath Basin real estate agent and the
foundation’s vice president, said the foundation has worked with a
law firm and an accounting firm to set up a system to account for
funds received and distributed. “There are some start-up costs,”
he said, noting however that the board members were all
volunteers “here because we’re impassioned.”
Mike Connelly, a Bonanza cattleman, writer and foundation board
member, said the organization is seeking 501(c)3 status so
donations to it will be tax deductible. Although the foundation has
filed for such status, processing its application can take two to 12
months, he said.
The foundation currently has funds to cover its operating costs,
but isn’t ready to make grants, Connelly said.
Baghott has donated office space and furniture at 2710 Washburn
Way, Suite 3, and she said a bookkeeper and secretary will work
there part-time. It expects to have phone service and a message
center soon, she said.
Baghott said the foundation will try to complement rather than
supersede ongoing efforts by other groups dealing with the water
“We want to do outreach and build bridges between part of the
community,” Connelly said.
The foundation has committees on science, education and
environment; communications and public relations; political
awareness; legal issues; and funding and resources. It held its
first information meeting for the public in Tulelake Thursday
“We will always welcome input and participation from the
community,” said Rob Crawford, a Tulelake grain grower and
foundation board member.