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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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People don’t listen, and that’s a problem

Herald and News Letter to the Editor February 14, 2009, Nell Kuonen, Klamath Falls, former County Commissioner

More than 25 years ago, County Commissioners Alvin Cheyne, Floyd Wynne and I became aware of the infestation of the gypsy moth and later the pine beetle. There were knowledgeable, experienced men who suggested solutions.

Unfortunately, those with final authority disagreed. In some cases, they just needed to “study the issue” more. Neither moths nor beetles objected to more studies. They just continued to infest the forests.

Now a quarter of a century later, it has been determined the trees were indeed infected and will die. Some already have and are perfect fuel for wildfires — danger for people and wildlife. Too bad smart men weren’t listened to.

On another equally frustrating issue — water: Had the authorities listened and acted 50 years ago, we would have off-stream storage today.

That issue has also been studied and studied and studied. No action was taken, so our farmers are again at the mercy of those who probably never farmed or even seem to care.

If Jim Kerns and others with similar knowledge of Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River had been listened to half a century ago, we wouldn’t wonder now if farmers will have water. When farmers don’t grow crops, not only people, but wildlife suffers. Deer, antelope and geese — all wildlife — have no food.

Don’t those who worry about fish also worry about all the other forms of life? Don’t people wonder why farmers leave rows of grain in the fields? To feed the wildlife!

An agreement was reached by Oregon and California and ratified by Congress in April 1957 assuring farmers of agriculture water. It seems agreements can be broken much easier than made. Too bad.

No, I’m not a farmer, but my folks were. Like most people, I like to eat meat, potatoes and gravy in addition to fish.

Nell Kuonen

Klamath Falls
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