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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
 

Dear Mr. Amato:

(from Steve Cheyne 11/25/05, response to Fish vs farmers)

 
I find that I have to say something about the piece published in your magazine, Salmon, Trout, Steelheader.  As you are no doubt aware, this piece was written by a man named Don Roberts.  I am a man who was born and has lived all of his life in the Klamath Basin.  I have been involved all of my life with agriculture.  My Great grandfather came here in the early 1900s.  My life was changed forever with the water shutoff of 2001.  Alas, I am not the only person in this position.  I realize full well that times do change, and that agriculture in the Klamath Basin will, in the future, wear a different face.  The shape of the change that we face will ultimately have to be formed from factual information based on good data.  Unfortunately, there has been precious little of that to be found in the debate over the Klamath River.  It has been said that either you can be part of the problem, or be part of the solution.  Mr. Roberts, in my estimation, has decided to be part of the problem, as have you, by choosing to publish what he wrote.
 
I want you to understand that I do not care whether Mr. Roberts has an opinion which is different from mine.  The problem I have lies in the fact that too many people tend to believe what they read.  And too much has been written in the vein of Mr. Roberts diatribe, that at some point, verbiage such as this becomes clothed in a veil of "truth."
 
I originally thought that this piece of vitriol was best ignored.  However, since someone published it, I felt ultimately bound to comment on it.  Be advised, that a proper response requires a word for word rebuttal of what was written, and this is not the place for that, although, I could, rest assured. There is nothing factually correct in this piece of journalism.  The author does not even make it through the first paragraph before he states the problem occurred in 2000.  The water shut off was in 2001.  This entire piece was taken from environmental group website talking points.  I felt like I was reading the ONRC homepage!  However, even ONRC has the year right!
 
He gets into the old saw that the government has promised too much water to too many people.  This evidently makes good press, because it has been thrown out in the road so many times, that you'd think it would have been run over by now.  Never is there a mention that the conflicting Biological opinions of the NOAA Fisheries, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service can't balance the water in the system in eight out of ten years with NO water for agriculture.  Nowhere is there mention that the water claims of the Klamath Tribe exceed any amount of water there has ever been in the Klamath Basin.  Just realize there are other things that need examination.
 
The report by the National Academy of Science is downgraded by the author as being the result of the work of the Bush Administration.  No administration places the members on the council.  The National Research Council, is an arm of the Academy, and the same men and women would have reviewed this mess even if the Clinton Administration would have asked for it.  It seems that the author tries valiantly to shoot the messenger here.  He also tries to elevate the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to some exalted status above the NRC, in spite of obvious flaws with the CDFW reporting.
 
He also takes up the flow problems by trying to say that agricultural diversions remove some 30+% of the river flow in the summer months.  Just remember that this irrigation water was stored in the winter months so that it would be there in the summer.  If the Link River Dam wasn't there, that water would be long gone, and not even be available for argument. 
 
Enough.  My blood pressure gets too high thinking about biased verbiage like this.
 
I am sorry for Mr. Roberts, in that he has no more respect for himself than to write something like this, and I am truly sorry that you saw fit to publish it.  You both have done far more harm than good. 
 
Steve Cheyne



 

 

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