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.

Congressman Greg Walden
February 14, 2007
Statement for the Record

Madam Speaker:

Today, the great state of Oregon turns 148 years old. Tomorrow will mark an occasion nearly as momentous when a highly-respected community leader in Oregon, Mr. Steve Kandra, steps down as the president of the Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA). I would like to draw my colleagues’ attention to the numerous contributions Steve has made to his community and his industry, for without them hundreds of farmers and ranchers in southern Oregon and northern California would have found the past two years a much greater challenge.

As many of us know, most folks would probably be surprised at what life as president of an organization is really like. Often, one is drafted into the position by colleagues to pick up heavy loads, to donate countless hours of time away from family and business, and to forge common ground on difficult issues. Being the president of KWUA is a particularly tough job; Steve heeded the call of his fellow farmers and ranchers for two full terms. As Steve’s infectious sense of humor would lead him to say, “If you don’t get it right the first time, try, try again.”

His fellow members at KWUA would tell you that they pleaded with him to lead the association because he is extremely smart, dedicated, experienced, respected, and sincere.  That’s an impressive combination of personal qualities, and they sum Steve Kandra up well.

The farmers and ranchers of the Klamath Basin are no strangers to serious challenges. When the federal government unjustly shut off their water from the Klamath Project in 2001, over 1,000 farming and ranching families’ livelihoods, and the community that depends on their well-being, faced disaster. The climb back for the agriculture community is by no means complete and has demanded smart and dedicated leadership. Steve Kandra provided just that. Steve spent countless hours attending meetings and hearings, leading tours of the Klamath Basin, granting interviews, and delivering compelling presentations. Hs duties as president often took precedence over family affairs and the demands of farming. Anyone who knows Steve knows he is a hands-on guy who will not be deterred when the tough issues require significant personal involvement, a substantial knowledge base, and a broad range of relationships.

The “Just Say No” campaign clearly did not resonate with Steve. He is also a past president of Tulelake Rotary, Klamath County Farm Bureau, Oregon Hay & Forage Association, Klamath Basin Hay Growers, Klamath County Chamber of Commerce, and Klamath Irrigation District. Steve is a board member of Klamath Basin Ecosystem Foundation and Shaw Historical Library Board of Governors, and an elder at Merrill First Presbyterian Church. Lest my colleagues think that is all Steve has managed to occupy his time with, amazingly there’s more. He has also been a board member of the Klamath County Economic Development Association, Upper Klamath Basin Working Group, Klamath Irrigation District, and Oregon Water Resources Congress, just to name a few volunteer activities.  I suppose the saying is true: If you need something done, ask a busy man.

While Steve and his lovely wife, Nancy, will both remain very engaged in the struggle to provide stability for agriculture in the Klamath Basin, I suspect that Nancy will be popping a bottle of champagne tomorrow night in celebration of Steve’s retirement as president of KWUA. Together they have successfully navigated a long and winding road, and a celebration of achievement is certainly in order.

Madam Speaker and my fellow House members, please join me in congratulating Steve Kandra, an outstanding community leader and family man who I am proud to call my friend. 

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