United States Department of Interior
‘Listening Session’ Redmond, OR
August 22, 2006 8:30 am
William D. Kennedy
24500 North Poe Valley Road
Klamath Falls, OR 97603
Chairman of the Board
Family Farm Alliance
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240
Dear Secretary Dirk Kempthorne:
My name is Bill Kennedy, and
I traveled here today from Klamath Falls, Oregon
on behalf of the Family Farm Alliance. The
Alliance advocates for family farmers, ranchers,
irrigation districts, and allied industries in
seventeen Western states. The Alliance is focused
on one mission – To ensure the availability of
reliable, affordable irrigation water supplies to
Western farmers and ranchers.
The ranch that I operate is
one of 1,400 family farms and ranches that depend
on water supplies from the Klamath Irrigation
Project (“Project”). My ranch has been a private
wildlife refuge for over 25 years. In 2001 single
species management as interpreted by the ESA
allocated 1000 acres of my irrigated wildlife
habitat for meeting two unattainable biological
opinions. Over 400 species of vertebrates lost
food and habitat to benefit two species on the
endangered species list.
The members of the Family Farm Alliance have many
other examples of how onerous and expensive
processes associated with the U.S. Department of
Interior can be. Many collaborative projects in
Western states are delayed or stopped by the sole
association with Interior. We also have many
examples of how relationships with Interior can
Today, my focus is on my back yard, the Klamath
In order for Interior to foster meaningful,
working relationships it must take action today to
gain respect and trust. For the past twenty years,
private landowners have become reluctant to
associate with many of Interiors departments. The
normal relationship has been one of Interior
mandating to the landowner what must be done.
There typically is more interest by your
departments in the regulations that restrict
Interiors’ actions than on ways to create
There are examples of positive and meaningful
holistic resource management as well. The
relationship between the wildlife refuge
management and the food producing family farmers
is better today than it was just six years ago.
Willingness to create flexibility by people like
Ron Cole and David Mauser has resulted in a
successful Walking Wetlands program. This is a
partnership program that works.
I do compliment the Klamath ERO office of Fish and
Wildlife as well as the Klamath Reclamation
project office for developing better working
relationship this last year. This has resulted in
a flexible implementation of the Biological
Opinion for Suckers and Coho. Unfortunately this
seems to be headed to the court system.
At upper ends of the Klamath basin we see Interior
to continue in its land acquisition goals. This
direction is contrary to constructive
conservation. Over the past 25 years, close to
30,000 acres of productive private irrigated
ground has been acquired by Interior. Besides
reducing our county tax base, the result has been
to dismantle a very important infrastructure for
interstate and international commerce.
The irrigated pasture of the upper marsh and
ranches like Wood River Ranch, Agency Lake Ranch
and now The Barnes Ranch has been some of the most
productive pasture in the world. Cattle producers
depend on pasture in the Klamath basin to
complement winter-feeding cycles in northern
California. The Klamath feeder-stockman can
produce beef that is finished in Washington,
Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas or Iowa. The end
product is sold as far away as Japan and Korea.
We have meaningful collaboration by some Fish and
Wildlife managers. But, Interior is also playing a
destructive role in the dismantling of our natural
resource production. From the purchase of Wood
River Ranch by BLM to Reclamations acquisition of
Agency Lake Ranch, the agricultural community has
been told that the transferred ownership and
management will result in water supply certainty.
Instead we have more stringent Biological Opinions
that are interpreted to reduce our water supply
Today, Interior should not be surprised that there
is little support for the acquisition of The
Barnes Ranch. We do not believe claims that it
will be managed for water supply certainty. The
only certainty that this direction has given us is
certainly less irrigated production for our local
and national economy.
The one direction that Interior could take to
build its relationships with private land managers
is to get out of the land acquisition business.
The federal government needs to reduce its land
holdings. Instead of buying up private productive
irrigated pasture in the Klamath basin, Interior
should lead the federal family towards land
dispersal. Promote constructive conservation with
neighbors by developing trust. Develop trust by
getting off the land acquisition track. There are
many examples set by the Bureau of Reclamation on
how transfer of project ownership has benefited
Interior, the stakeholders and the environment.
Project transfer continues to be an advocacy of
The Family Farm Alliance.
Looking to the forests of our watershed opens the
eyes. Private lands like those managed by the
Thomas Shaw family produce a sustainable harvest
with little danger of catastrophic forest fires.
Yet these same lands are surrounded by national
forest that has no management, no harvest and fuel
loads waiting to burn the earth beyond recognition
and destroy what the Shaw family has managed for
excellence. Like many of the departments of
Interior, the U.S. Forest Service has been
castrated by inflexible implementation of NEPA,
ESA and CWA. The forest can be managed as a
holistic resource when it is owned by our state or
a private land manager like the Shaw family.
The short term and immediate direction for
Interior to follow is in regards to interpretation
and implementation of the ESA. There can be
flexible and responsible use of the ESA. This
includes requiring current and new listings to
have a recovery plan. Plans should be reviewed
every five years. There should be measurable goals
and objectives. The primary objective should be to
de-list a species.
Science used for listing and delisting a species
should not just be the “best available”, it should
stand up to peer review.
Nowhere are cooperative relationships more
important than in regard to NEPA. Administrative
action to make the ESA a successful tool needs to
address NEPA as well. All of the suggestions
listed below become workable when landowners are
included as applicants in the process.
1. NEPA analyses should require that value be
assigned to continued agricultural production in a
2. Impacts of drought and continuing water demands
must be assessed and built into the NEPA process.
3. Anything that can be done to streamline the
overall permitting process (NEPA, ESA, Clean Water
Act, etc.) should be encouraged.
4. Agency work on biological opinions should be
required to keep pace with development of NEPA
5. Congress should consider legislation that would
allow the state’s legislative and planning process
to be considered in establishing purpose and need
for construction of dam and reservoir projects.
6. Developing a reasonable range of alternatives
is also very important in project planning and the
NEPA process. Alternatives must meet the need and
purpose for the project and must be capable of
being implemented. It is important to use the NEPA
process to help determine the most appropriate
alternative from the set of reasonable
7. Cooperative efforts are important for moving
projects through the NEPA and permitting
processes. State and local sponsors should become
cooperating agencies in the NEPA process if
possible and if not, should be allowed to serve on
the project EIS interdisciplinary team.
Planning for the future
Today we see changes in our lives dramatically
affect what we live for. Today we grow crops to
produce power as well as food and fiber.
Interior must recognize the slippery path that we
are in danger of going down in relation to our
national security. We cannot afford to risk our
secure ability to produce our own food and fiber
In the Klamath basin issue we have had tremendous
participation in discussions revolving around FERC
licensing of hydroelectricity. With the leadership
of people like Steve Thompson, a small group of
people has forged through discussions diverse and
contentious. I am hopeful that this process will
recognize collaborative choices that will result
in healthy wildlife, communities and economies. We
must look at all our choices and not let a
minority inject their personal agendas to
Dismantling our power capacity on the Klamath
River is one symptom of a very serious problem we
are starting to recognize in this nation. We have
ignored the basic needs of maintaining our
infrastructures. We have dike failure in
Louisiana, California and Oregon. Our power
production is dependent on imported oil and gas.
Our power grid cannot feed hungry air conditioners
in Sacramento. As you read this, the demand for
water in the western United States, including the
Klamath River, has increased.
I believe we can have modern hydropower with
effective fish passage and modern hatchery
management. We can have vibrant fisheries up and
down the Pacific coast. Renewable power can
A few people in our nation are willing to see our
roads; schools, reservoirs and our power
production crumble from lack of maintenance and
lack of planning for the future. In the case of
the four big dams on the Klamath River, we see
advocacy to deliberately dismantle our power
At the fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City
last March one concern was that a majority of
Africans lack regular electricity, preventing them
from operating pumps to extract water from wells.
Some at the Forum pointed out that
hydroelectricity could help.
"Investment in hydroelectric infrastructure is not
a choice anymore for Africa, it is a must," Jamal
Shagir, the World Bank's director of water and
energy, said in a report
While we are talking about removing hydroelectric
capacity that is directly linked to the
development of our irrigated crop production, the
World Bank recognizes the importance of
hydroelectricity to bring people out of poverty
and away from dependence on other nations.
While we continue to see our infrastructure of
irrigated agriculture ignored and dismantled,
third world nations in Africa, the Americas and
Asia are trying to build what we have had for over
Are we willing to move towards an insecure poverty
or do we value the importance of hydroelectricy?
Do we want to import our food fiber and power or
do we believe in the security of domestic capacity
Interior has an important direction to take in the
next few years. Experience of people like those of
you at this listening session is about to retire.
As the land mangers who have built collaboration
go fishing, Interior hires more biologists and GIS
specialists that do not have a clue where the
water will flow after 5:00 PM on Friday afternoon.
Interior needs to replace those that innovate and
care for the relationships created today with
individuals capable and dedicated to our nation’s
needs. This is a difficult task before you.
I use to have four or five high school students
ask for summer jobs on my ranch. Today, I compete
with the house construction business for reliable
Hispanic workers. The president of The Family Farm
Alliance, Pat O’Toole, hires shepherds from Peru
to care for his livestock on the Continental
divide because there are not willing, qualified
shepherds in the United States.
Interior has played a vital role in the
development of the West. That development goes on
today at an unprecedented rate, and is placing
significant pressure on all our resources. We are
better off with our cooperative conservation and
the incentives we present each other throughout
The Family Farm Alliance will continue to advocate
for taking care of the infrastructure and resource
development that includes new water supplies and
healthy wildlife habitat. We look forward to our
improving relations the United States Department
Thank you for your time and attention.
William D. Kennedy
Chairman of the Board
The Family Farm Alliance