Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Felice Pace is wrong again.
Pioneer Press, a weekly newspaper, grants permission
for this article to be copied and forwarded.
Vol. 32, No. 43
Liberty for all
An opinion by Liz Bowen
Felice is wrong again
Since Felice Pace has moved from Etna, California some folks think he is gone.
That is not the case.
He has written two letters about local projects in the past month and both contain incorrect statements and claims.
In one, he was in opposition to a continued sediment study in the Moffett Creek area, which is being conducted on private ground – mostly on Fruit Growers Supply land.
Why is Pace against a study that determines how much sediment is contributed by nature and not man?
The Scott Valley Watershed Council went ahead and approved the study and the Siskiyou Resource Conservation District (RCD) board did as well.
In that letter, Pace gave his address as a P.O. Box in Klamath, California.
On Sept. 1, Pace emailed a letter to the RCD office in Etna, complaining about federal agricultural funds and that they have been misused. He assumed that the several new pivots, which are the tall irrigation systems in the Scott Valley, were put in using the federal funds.
These funds came to Siskiyou County through the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The $50 million EQIP funds were sent to the Klamath Basin after the 2001 federal theft of water to the several thousand farmers and small landowners in the Klamath Project of the Bureau of Reclamation.
Don Howell is president of the RCD and he responded to Pace’s accusations with facts. I am impressed with Howell’s levelheaded response. My response was disgust.
Pace explained that he had been in Scott Valley the previous weekend and believed that the several new pivots were an "abuse" of the EQIP funds and resulted in more water use in the late summer and fall. This is not true.
First, extensive studies have been completed in the county by Farm Advisor, Steve Orloff, which prove that those big, tall pivots actually conserve water usage, compared to the wheel-line sprinkler systems. That is why pivots have been encouraged.
Pace also assumed that the farmers were irrigating a fourth cutting of alfalfa hay. This is also not true. Pace is clearly not as farming-savvy as he thinks he is or has claimed to be in the past.
According to Howell’s response -- and I agree with him – "as usual you have jumped to conclusions that you cannot substantiate," to Pace’s statements.
Some of the new handful of pivots are "partially" funded through EQIP funds.
One new pivot near Fort Jones was paid for by the landowner and has just completed irrigating the second cutting of a first-year crop of alfalfa. Howell went on to explain that was he still irrigating his third crop and would be finished on Sept. 4.
"I won’t be cutting my third for at least another two to three weeks," said Howell.
The few fields that are currently growing a fourth cutting, were cut early on the second and third, to take advantage of weather and market conditions, responded Howell.
Pace claimed that Klamath EQIP funds were wiping out the "good work" that has been done in the last 15 years for fish. I was surprised that Pace even acknowledged the tremendous amount of work accomplished by landowners and the RCD here in our small mountain valley. But as Howell explained, the Scott and Shasta have received only a small amount of the $50 million Klamath EQIP funds.
Bill Gardiner, who is in charge of the Klamath EQIP funds for the National Resource Conservation District in the Yreka office, also responded to Pace through email. He said that he is also concerned and that the funds should used to benefit fish through water conservation. He added that he is hoping to work closely with the RCDs to develop mechanisms or agreements with landowners, so that the funds are not abused.
However, his agency is "not regulatory, nor do we have any regulatory authority to tell people what to do on private property," said Gardiner.
On Sept. 27, a workgroup meeting will be held to resolve the inadequacies of the current Klamath EQIP ranking that Gardiner and his staff is forced to use by government requirements.
He invited Pace to contribute innovative and creative solutions to the complex resource and social issues facing society today.
So, if Pace really wants to help the salmon, he should stop making false accusations and claims. Providing compromises and practical solutions is the only way there will be any kind of peace between the polarized factions.
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