Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Rangeland Trust Thomas comes to Tulelake
July 28, 2003, KBC
Last week at Mike and Wandas Restaurant, a meeting by Kurt Thomas of Rangeland Trust was hosted by Tulelake Growers Association. Thomas and Jim Root are the business partners, and Root's daughter, hydrologist Chrysten Lambert, helped present the water-saving plan. Jacob Kahn is the biologist.
Thomas explained that they have owned Agency Ranch (not Agency Lake Ranch) since '81. It is the pasture portion of a reservation. He said that it gets 2-3 acre feet (AF) consumptive use, so he provides a voluntary demand reduction program. In 2002 they had 3100 acres, and 9000 acres this year. BOR, USFWS, Dept of Ag, and EPA fund their endeavor.
This is the plan. They lease ground from 'willing leasers' for $200/acre. They get paid $300/acre. There is an 80% reduction in the cattle herd--they have 1 3/4 steer per acre...650 this year.
"What was the water return this year?" asked farmer/rancher Gary Wright. "We don't know yet," responded Lambert.
Rob Crawford expressed concern that they employ Jacob Kahn as their biologist. He is not credible in the ag community...professionals like Dr Ken Rykbost, of OSU extension office, recognize his flawed science.
Marty Macy, farmer and President of Tulelake Growers Association, reminded that the NAS committee, in their interum report, said Kahn said nothing in his data that made any sense. Kahn was instrumental in shutting down the Klamath Project in 2001.
Thomas promoted his concept of 'reducing demand', and Macy expressed his opposition to 'more downsizing'.
Doug Whitsett, local water user and retired veterinarian, explained how the 'downsizing' by taking Wood River out of ag land and making wetland, turned 100,000 acres of wood river, @ 3AF, a user of 300,000 AF water. It has tripled the amount of water that is taken from the system.
There is great concern that the water that Rangeland professed to be saving may not be accurate. This will put an additional demand on Klamath water users.
Irrigators expressed interest in having more water available for the Klamath Project...guaranteed, if they are indeed saving the amount of water that they claim to be saving. So far, water conservation measures by the Project have gone out of the community and down the river.
For the Oregonian's opinion, go to HERE.
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