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Herald and News 11/7/10

The season: ‘It was a catastrophe that turned into a disaster’     

   This year’s growing season in the Klamath Basin was bad, T.J. Woodley said, but it could have been much worse.
   “It was a catastrophe that turned into a disaster,” said Woodley, district manager of the Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District.
   When the growing season ended, irrigators had used more water than they originally anticipated, but much less than they receive during a normal water year.
   Early in the year, irrigators did not know what to expect. Some speculated that no water would be available for the Klamath Reclamation Project, and others remained hopeful they would get their full allotment, Woodley said.
   The Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District is a tax funded organization that provides advice and tutelage for irrigators. It also operates several programs aimed at instituting better land and water conservation and management practices.
   Woodley said three to four times more people than usual have come to the district seeking advice or help this year.
   The conservation district’s cover crop program, which helped farmers plant vegetation on 8,300 acres of barren fields to help prevent erosion, was very successful, he said.
   The conservation district also relied on a no-till program, lending farm equipment that plants crops without tilling to protect soil from drying out.
   While some water did flow through irrigation canals and these programs helped, irrigators in the Basin could not totally escape the drought. Woodley recalled driving around the fields near his house in Malin and seeing hundreds of acres sitting waterless and barren.
 “The visual of that landscape is something that really hit home for me,” he said.
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