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Herald and News, Letters to the editor

 November 5, 2004

Wyden helpful

While we may not always agree with Sen. Ron Wyden on water issues, I do feel it is important to clarify a statement made in a letter to the editor ("Dirty Politics") that appeared in the Oct. 18 Herald and News. In that letter, Wyden was criticized for his involvement in water issues in 2001 after irrigation supplies were cut off.

For the record, on July 12, 2001, Sen. Gordon Smith offered an amendment to H.R. 2217 (the fiscal year 2002 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act) to take certain actions for the recovery of the Lost River sucker and the shortnose sucker and to clarify the operations of the Klamath Reclamation Project in Oregon and California. A motion was made to table the amendment, which was passed by a vote of 52 to 48. Wyden was the sole Democrat in the Senate who voted against the motion to table, thus allowing consideration of the Klamath amendment.

Later that year, our association did oppose other legislation introduced by Wyden. However, in the past two years, we have developed an improved relationship with Wyden and his staff.

In that time, Wyden, along with Smith, pushed for legislation in the Senate that complemented a companion bill authored by Rep. Greg Walden, which ultimately led to the reimbursement of more than $2 million to Klamath Project irrigators earlier this year. Those irrigators were required by law to pay canal operation and maintenance fees during the 2001 water year, despite receiving virtually no water.

Wyden, Smith and Walden all played key roles to help restore fairness in the Basin after the federal government's disastrous water shutoff of 2001.

Dan Keppen
Executive Director
Klamath Water Users Association





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