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Keppen did outstanding job in water battles

 December 14, 2004

Dan Keppen was the right guy at the right time for the Klamath Water Users Association. He became the organization's executive director in November of 2001, in the bitter aftermath of the federal government's decision to cut off much of the water to the Klamath Reclamation Project so that more water could be used for threatened and endangered fish species.

In the spring of 2001, the word came down from the Department of Interior that, for the first time in the Klamath Project's history, no water would be released for irrigation because of the needs of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act. Later in the summer, the Bush administration did release some water.

But it was a bitterly divisive time for not just the irrigators, but the whole community. The fallout from it continues today.

Keppen was hired in November of 2001 and became a strong, intelligent voice for irrigators. He worked well with people at all levels including those in Washington D. C., whose help was vital to the Basin. Now he's given notice that he'll leave the position Jan. 30.

Keppen was a highly visible leader in a battle to preserve agriculture in the Klamath Basin, often doing battle with those bent on destroying farms and farmers in the Basin, while at the same looking for some common ground.

It's never easy during contentious times representing the wishes of an organization whose own members undoubtedly held a variety of views, but he did an outstanding job in a difficult position of great importance to the Basin.

He's hasn't decided yet what he'll be doing next, but he plans on staying in the Klamath Basin. That's to the Basin's benefit. He'll be hard to replace.

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