Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

‘Takings’ case

Irrigators testify to their losses, Trial results could be wide-ranging

by Holly Dillemuth, Herald and News 2/5/17

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Klamath Basin irrigator Luther Horsley has a name for April 6, 2001.

“I refer personally to it as Black Friday,” Horsley said.

Horsley is talking about the day he and many others found out that irrigation water would be shutoff for the preservation of the endangered sucker and coho salmon. The decision stems from biological opinions issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service officials in 2001.

Although he said many such as row crop farmers were affected far worse, Horsley was still visibly shaken by the events of that day, and those which followed.

“I personally regret that I took too much of the stress home to the dinner table,” Horsley said.

He also recalls how hard it was on his wife to sell off their cattle herd as the family ran out of feed for the livestock.

“The uncertainty of it was so stressful,” Horsley said.

Testimony in the co-called “takings” case wrapped up for the first week of trial Friday afternoon at the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.

The plaintiffs in the case — Klamath Irrigation District et al — brought various witnesses to the stand to testify, while a full gallery looked on. The case could have wide-ranging ramifications on how the federal government decides when to curb water to irrigators (called a takings) versus protecting endangered fish downstream.

While the farmers and ranchers are seeking up to $30 million in compensation for loss of income in 2001, to many observers, the more important issue is forcing the Bureau of Reclamation to weigh the cost to irrigators across the West when it decides to limit water.

Lynn Long, who arrived earlier in the week, testified to what he called the “alleged” taking of irrigation water in the Klamath Reclamation Project.

“Not as a singular event but an ongoing event,” Long said. “We see impacts in our community today that resulted. Thou shalt not steal,” he added, citing the biblical commandments.

Richard Howitt, an agricultural economist for 40 years, also testified Friday about the value of the water. He determined the price of $84.95 per acre foot of water for the fair market value of the irrigation water referred to in the takings case.

By multiplying $84.95 by 336,500 acre feet of water, Howitt said he determined the average value of the water to be more than $28 million. He explained his methods for his conclusion in lengthy testimony Friday.

“Your calculation isn’t one as to the amount due the individual farmer,” stated the plaintiff’s attorney Roger Marzulla, of Marzulla Law, “rather it is the average amount that would have been paid to purchase the amount of water taken in 2001.”

The trial could last well into February. Special counsel for the plaintiff, Bill Ganong of Klamath Falls, who has followed the case for more than a decade, declined to comment on the trial.

The United States as a defendant may call the following individuals as witnesses over the course of the remainder of trial, in addition to others: former Klamath Basin Area Office manager for the Bureau of Reclamation Karl Wirkus; Deputy Area Manager of the Klamath Project Jason Cameron; Moss Driscoll, senior water and lands specialist for the Klamath Basin Area Office of the BOR; Ron Larson, a former United States Fish & Wildlife Service employee; and Michael Green, natural resources specialist and leaseland program manager for the U.S. BOR in Klamath Falls.




In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Sunday February 12, 2017 03:06 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2017, All Rights Reserved