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Interior to provide $2 million to Basin 
Funding will be used for land idling 
by ELON GLUCKLICH, Herald and News 4/30/10
     The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Thursday it would provide $2 million for land idling in the Klamath Basin.
   The funding would help the Klamath Water and Power Agency fulf ill its pledge to assist farmers who choose not to irrigate parts of their land.
   Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the funding — on top of more than $5 million already released this year — to help conserve water ahead of the anticipated drought this year.
   Land idling is a process by which farmers cut back on water use by choosing not to utilize all of their crop space. The practice is often seen in years when water inf low is expected to be below seasonal averages.  
   U. S . Sen . Jeff Merkley, D- Ore., and U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., applauded the release of funds as a necessary stop-gap measure to help Basin farmers stay financially afloat.
   “While there’s no substitute for the water to keep farming, this money will go a long way to help water users make it through the season without losing their farms and livelihoods,” Merkley said in a news release.
   The decision to release the funds comes a month af ter Walden sent a joint letter to the U.S. Agriculture and Interior Departments, requesting emergency funds to help with the upcoming drought.           
   Hollie Cannon, executive director of Klamath Water and Power Agency (KWAPA) welcomed the additional money, saying it would be used to help support area irrigators who have chosen to implement land idling.
   “ It is tremendous help for what we had already committed to do,” he said.  
   One-third of funding
   Cannon said state and federal funding has brought KWAPA up to one-third of its total estimated funding needed to utilize land idling at a rate that will address the Basin-wide water shortage.
   With current funding totals, Cannon said, about 18,300 acres of land can be idled. He hopes additional funding from the federal government can bring the total to around 54,000 acres.
   “We’re working with Sen. Merkley’s office and Rep. Walden’s office to get the other two-thirds of funds,” he said.
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