Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
On October 2, 2002, after salmon had been dying in the lower river for two weeks, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, the Wilderness Society, Trout Unlimited, the Yurok tribe, and Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) held a press conference outside the Interior Department building in Washington, D.C., to announce their lawsuit against BuRec and the NMFS for violating the Endangered Species Act. Thompson had the Yuroks ship out 500 pounds of dead salmon with which he and his fellow plaintiffs festooned the park across from the Interior building. So rancid was the shipment that Federal Express at first refused to deliver it. "It was amazing how quickly the flies found those fish," recalls the Wilderness Society's Pete Rafle. "I now understand why the theory of spontaneous generation held sway. I've got a pair of shoes that I'm going to have to resole or burn. I wasn't expecting puddles."
July 17, 2003 Congressional Record:
AMENDMENT NO. 14 OFFERED BY MR. BLUMENAUER Mr.
BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
Amendment No. 14 offered by Mr. BLUMENAUER: Add at the end, before the short title, the following new section: SEC. ll. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to enter into any new commercial agricultural lease on the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges in the States of Oregon and California that permits the growing of row crops or alfalfa.
Mr. Chairman, it has been over a year since we last considered
this amendment. In that period of time we have come right back
to an era of water shortage. Actually, we had a little rain, but
the controversy continues. Last year, after the amendment was
voted on, we saw an unprecedented
Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman,
will the gentleman yield? Mr. BLUMENAUER. I yield to the
gentleman from North Carolina. Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina. Mr.
Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that all debate on this
amendment and all amendments thereto to be limited to 30 minutes
to be divided as follows:
Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I am
happy to accommodate the recommendation of the chairman of the
subcommittee. My point, Mr. Chairman, was that the Federal
Government right now, today, can make a small but significant
improvement by reducing millions of gallons of peak summer
demand. Teddy Roosevelt helped designate one of these wildlife
refuges as the first waterfowl refuge in 1908. We continue to
lease water within these refuges for intensive agricultural
uses. The amendment today would be an important step to stop
making the problem worse. If the amendment were approved, we
would be limiting the leases that expired this year, which are
Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I
yield myself such time as I may consume. H7044 CONGRESSIONAL
RECORD.HOUSE July 17, 2003 I rise in opposition to this
amendment. The Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife
refuges were established with the expressed intent that
agriculture uses of certain lands within the refuge should be
continued. Under the law, not more than 25 percent of the total
leased lands may be planted in row crops. The agricultural
activities must be consistent with proper waterfowl management.
Now, we should step back and allow the process to work. The
amendment can only serve to further complicate a very complex
and touchy situation. I urge my colleagues to join me in voting
ee no ff on this amendment. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the
balance of my time. Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes
to the gentleman from California
Mr. THOMPSON of California.
Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS)
for yielding me this time and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr.
BLUMENAUER) for bringing forward this amendment. I rise in
support of this amendment, and I want to emphasize that this
amendment is not anti-agriculture. This amendment is pro-water
conservation. The water situation in the Klamath Basin is in bad
straits. We are oversubscribed in the Klamath Basin and, as a
result, last year some 38,000 salmon, adult-spawning salmon in
the lower Klamath Basin, were killed because of the
oversubscription, the drought, and the extreme water problems
that impact the entire Klamath Basin. This amendment will
provide more water for fish without harming agriculture. The
Klamath Basin water problems are not insurmountable. We can fix
them. But it is going to require that all parties take a seat at
the table and show a willingness to work towards a solution. I
would encourage all, those who are opposed to this and those who
are in support of it, to come together, finally come together,
join forces and attempt to fix this problem. I think this
amendment is a step in that direction. It frees up a lot of
water that can be used to mitigate the environmental problem
that led to the death of some
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, let me address this issue of the fish kill last year, because the science is really in dispute. Dave Vogel says, In 1988, and he is a scientist who has studied this carefully, a run totaling 215,322 salmon occurred on the Klamath River with identical flow conditions: 2,130 cfs in 1988; 2,129 cfs in 2002, but no fish dieoff occurred. In 2002, there were 132,000 salmon and 33,000 died. But why? Two dramatic and uncharacteristic cooling and warming trends occurred during late August and September where the Upper Klamath River was still naturally unsuitably warm that probably both attracted fish into the lower river and then exposed the fish to chronically and cumulatively stressful conditions. The point being, in 1988 we had nearly double the number of salmon coming back, there was no fish kill, and we had the same amount of water as in 2002 where we had about half the run coming back and we did lose fish. None of us wants to see a fish kill. We are all trying to work together; and I would welcome the opportunity to work with my colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. THOMPSON), to find a global solution. But this is not it. This is not the solution. I have to raise an issue that was raised on this floor last night by my colleague and friend, the gentleman from Oregon, when he told the House that he would offer an amendment today, and I quote from his words last night: eeThat would reduce water-intensive agriculture in one of the wildlife refuges in the United States where there is unregulated agriculture practicing on leased land dealing with the Klamath Basin.ff I would suggest that that was a misstatement. It is a misstatement because, first of all, these lands are governed by the Kuchel Act passed in 1964 that says: eeSuch lands shall be administered by the Secretary of the Interior for the purpose of major waterfowl management, but with full consideration to optimum agricultural use that is consistent therein.ff The leases, and I have a copy here of the draft leases, these are what the farmers have to agree to. And it includes information relating to the previous yearfs operations which include a report of planting date, cultivar variety, seed and seed piece treatment, crop yield, and units of tons by acre, and harvest date; on and on, including what pesticides are used, irrigation, tillage, burning, fertilizers on each crop. This is regulated, I would suggest, more than the Chinese regulate their agriculture. Finally, these farmers work very hard to reduce pesticide use, and every year they are evaluated and they enter into probably the most progressive activity when it comes to limiting and reducing pesticide use that we have, and that is the integrated pest management concept. Time and again, they have entered into these agreements; and time and again, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and even the courts have found that these lands are being used in a compatible way. Now, it is important to understand as well that even if we could find the water that was freed up by limiting crop restrictions on these 2,250 acres, it would not go to the refuges. It would go to other uses having higher priority, which could include private farmland. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service realized this in their determination made in 2002. Environmental groups sued on that determination and were unsuccessful. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also found that based on a USGS study that if you did not irrigate, I mean if you took irrigation completely off of these leased lands, at all, only a minor amount of water would be freed up because there would be a substantial consumptive use of water by the weeds. Now, their amendment basically tells farmers in my district, and 62 percent of my folks have these leases, that they cannot grow onions, potatoes or alfalfa. They can only grow grain crops. And somehow, that is going to solve the problem or a part of the problem. What my colleagues may not understand is that onions use 1.88 acre feet of water per acre. Potatoes, the villain from last year, consume 1.73 acre feet of water per acre. The very grain crops that you want them to only be able to grow consume 1.87 acre feet of water per acre, more than the potatoes use, equal to what the onions grow. Now, sure, maybe alfalfa consumes more water. But do my colleagues know what? If we just turned this over to wetlands, wetlands themselves consume 21.2 to 31.2 times the amount of water that potatoes and onions consume. So if you turned this over to the noxious weeds, they will drink up more than these farmers will. Finally, these people have been devastated economically down there as farmers, and they have done enormous work to try and solve this problem. We spent $16 million putting in a new sophisticated fish screen in the canal that now routes nearly a million sucker larva down to three-eighths of an inch back into the river or into the lake. That would have languished forever. We got it done. In conclusion, we are making efforts through the EQIP money that my colleague from Oregon voted against when he voted against the farm bill to do water reduction efforts to have more efficient irrigation systems. That farm bill, too, which the gentleman voted against, included the study, the 1-year study for removal of Chiloquin Dam, which has now been completed which we restored access to 95 percent of the habitat for suckers on the Sprague River. It was a principal blockage and reason why the suckers were limited in the first place. My point is, we are taking action to try and solve the problem. This does not help.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. THOMPSON) to respond to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. WALDEN).
Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Washington for yielding me this time. July 17, 2003 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.HOUSE H7045 I just want to make a couple of observations, and this has come from someone who voted for the farm bill and someone who actually farms. Again, this is not an antifarming amendment; it is a pro-water conservation amendment. That is what is needed in the Klamath Basin. I just want to raise the issue that the low flows that we were talking about, this last year when 38,000 adult-spawning salmon were killed, this was the lowest water flows ever recorded since they have been recording the flows out of Irongate, the lowest flows ever during the migration period of the salmon. The other thing I want to mention is that we can argue science all day, but there is one thing that is not arguable, and that is, fish need water. This is a good amendment. It is not antiagriculture. It does not have anything at all to do with the farm bill. There is nothing in it about chemicals or chemicals used in agriculture. This is water conservation. It will save fish. It will help farmers on both ends of the Klamath Basin. I ask for my colleaguesf eeayeff vote.
Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. HERGER).
Mr. HERGER. Mr.
Chairman, so this amendment seeks to save the wildlife refuges
of the Klamath Basin. From what, Mr. Chairman? Farming in the
refuge of the Klamath Basin has occurred since they were created
nearly 100 years ago. Today it continues to represent a shining
example of how agriculture and wildlife cannot only coexist, but
thrive together. And as if the farmers I represent in this area
of Northern California have not suffered enough, it would cause
them even more economic harm. And not unlike the disastrous
decision that shut off 100 percent of their water just
b 1215 Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina. Mr.
Chairman, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California
Mr. Chairman, this Klamath Basin is represented by three
Members, the gentleman from Oregon
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, how much time remains? The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Oregon (Mr. BLUMENAUER) has 6 minutes remaining. The gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. TAYLOR) has 1 minute remaining. The gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS) has 21.2 minutes remaining). Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. FARR).
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I did not come to the floor to speak on this amendment, but after hearing the debate I must rise. Because this is not a debate about farming versus the environment. This is a debate about economics versus economics. It is about coastal economics, where the majority of the population of the people in California live, versus interior economics. It is an issue that cries outs for a solution to both parties. H7046 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.HOUSE July 17, 2003 There is not a win-win here. Without this amendment, you have a win-lose. You have the entire tourism industry which is dependent on where this stream comes into the ocean which is dependent on that fish coming into the stream. There is an economic survival, both in the tourism and the fisherman there versus the farmers. Alfalfa is one of the most water-intensive crops that we grow in the United States. Certainly the farmers through best management practices can do with less water. We do that in our area all the time. We are always struggling to have it. What this problem cries out for is a solution for a win-win. In order to do that, somebody has to give up something. Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time. The CHAIRMAN. The Chair was incorrect earlier. The gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. TAYLOR) has 2 minutes remaining.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time. Mr. Chairman, I agree with the gentleman from California (Mr. FARR) on this amendment, that this really does cry out for compromise. We have had some of the most bitter environmental battles in the Pacific Northwest over the spotted owl, the marbled murrelet, salmon, and in most of these instances we have been able to sit down and work out a compromise on these important issues. What happened last year, and there may be a multitude of reasons, the death of these fish, I think, caused a tremendous impact not only in the Northwest but across the country; and we have a scientific study that will look into and give us the reasons for the loss of this fish. But the gentleman from Oregonfs (Mr. BLUMENAUER) amendment I think is an attempt to try and deal with the basic underlying issue, that is, the allocation of water. We have the same problems in the State of Washington. We have to work out agreements between farmers and fishermen. And we work on these things, and it is not easy to accomplish. But the last thing we need to do is to end the dialogue. I heard my friends, the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. WALDEN) and the gentleman from California (Mr. FARR), say they were prepared to enter into a dialogue. I think there ought to be a dialogue with the Members and the agencies. But the one thing you have to do with situations like this is to rely on science. This cannot be done on emotion. We just heard a very emotional appeal. This has to be done on good science.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield? Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from Oregon.
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Chairman, I fully concur with the gentleman about basing this on science. In fact, when we had the National Academy of Sciences review the biological opinions that set up the water cut-off in 2001, the initial findings came back and said the decisions by the government were not backed up by science, and we are waiting for the final review now. This bill is a rifle shot at a very tiny piece of a huge problem. And as I mentioned in my comments, fixing the fish screen on the A canal, dealing with fish passage at Chiloquin, which will probably result in removal of that dam which I will support if that is what the consensus is, those are the things we can deal with. Mr. DICKS. Was water temperature here an issue? Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Ambient temperature as much as water temperature are both issues. I will be happy to discuss this further with the gentleman. Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. The gentleman raised a point that we stated in the beginning. I oppose this amendment because it will disrupt the very technical amendment that has been worked out.
Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. GOODLATTE).
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time and his opposition to this amendment. As the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, I want to rise in strong opposition to this amendment as well. I would say to the gentleman from Washington (Mr. DICKS) that compromise is certainly needed and sound science is certainly needed, but the sound science has not been put forward today, and this is not the place to be doing it. This is barely inside not being struck for being authorized on an appropriations bill, because all you are doing is limiting expenditures for specific crops. I would say that this is exactly the wrong place, and the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. BLUMENAUER) ought to withdraw his amendment and work with the appropriate authorizing committees that are involved and interested in this as well as with the gentleman from North Carolina (Chairman TAYLOR) to come up with a solution that works and not try to not compromise, which is exactly what you are doing here. You are trying to stuff this issue down the throats of the citizens of Eastern Oregon, and I would strongly oppose the amendment. The amendment would sacrifice farming families in the Klamath Basin by restricting the acres planted and restricting the options of families farming under the false premise of providing water for wildlife. You cannot replace some of the crops that you want to replace them with the crops that are being planted now because they are not as profitable. The farmers cannot make a living by having the government dictate to them what they should be doing. This is the wrong place with the wrong solution. In reality, the Blumenauer amendment would provide less food and water for the millions of waterfowl that use the Klamath National Wildlife Complex in California and Oregon each year. Congress itself has recognized the dual benefits of the leased lands, and I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, how much time remains? The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Oregon (Mr. BLUMENAUER) is the only Member with time remaining, and he has 5 minutes.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume. Mr. Chairman, first two factual observations: One, the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Agriculture suggested that we were going to be flinging these farmers off the 2,000 acres that are leased and denying them a way to earn a living. There are people in the Basin who are trying to lease their own private land right now. I have heard from them. In fact, they were in the gentleman from Californiafs (Mr. HERGER) office yesterday. They have land to lease, but they are undercut in their efforts to lease their land because the Federal Government is leasing land at below-market rates. Now if there is a dramatic demand to grow water-intensive crops, there are private lands that are available to be leased. Nobody has made the argument that there is not. I have heard from farmers down there who have land ready to lease and wonder why we are competing with them. Second, several of my colleagues have said you are not saving any water because some of the things that you would permit to grow, if this amendment were enacted, actually consume more water. But what my friends did not tell you and, in fact, again, I had a farmer from the Basin yesterday in my office explaining why it is a savings of water, because they can take the water in the winter, charge the ground, do winter irrigation and the water is available for these serial crops in the summer. They do not have to irrigate during the summer when we do not have the water available. So it is a net gain because it takes the water when it is plentiful, put into the ground, store it up for the summer. It helps recharge the groundwater, and it uses less water when the fish need it, when the Native Americans need it, when it is needed for recreation activities that are far more valuable than just the agricultural interests alone. I agree with the gentleman from California (Mr. DOOLITTLE) that the Federal Government is the culprit. Absolutely. We have promised more water to the Native Americans, to the farmers, to the needs of endangered species July 17, 2003 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.HOUSE H7047 and wildlife, and it is time to stop pretending that we can blame it on somebody else. I have watched people play politics in the basin. I have watched the sad spectacle when law enforcement officials said they could not enforce the law. And people play to inflame the attitudes and emotions. I think that is wrong. I think that is sad. The problem in the basin is that the Federal Government has committed more than nature can produce, and for us to stop the nonsense of assuming that we can just be business as usual is the first step. I commend my friend, the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. WALDEN) who has been working on this for years. I commend many of the issues that he wants to move forward in terms of dam removal and fish screens. I will support him. I will support major Federal investment to buy out willing sellers to reduce the water demand. Because unless and until we come face to face with the fact that we have promised more than we can deliver, we will be in this mess year after year after year. This amendment will not throw any farmers off the land. In fact, the farmers in the district of the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. WALDEN) in the wildlife refuge do not irrigate. It will not affect the farmers in his district in the wildlife refuge. I wanted to make the point that it is not going to affect the farmers in the wildlife refuge in his district. The farmers that are in the Tule Lake area can go ahead. They can lease land if they want. But for the land that the Federal Government provides, it is time for us to face reality, limit the use away from water-intensive agriculture. b 1230 This is not trying to play the blame game. It is for the Federal Government to lead by example and stop leasing lands for water-intensive agriculture, allow the water to be used at a time when it is most plentiful. They can continue like they have in the other part of the refuge. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote on a path towards a more sustainable future in the basin, cooperate where we can, but do not make it any worse by continuing to lease land in the refuge for water-intensive agriculture.
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Chairman, this amendment proposes that the House of Representatives arbitrarily declare what crops a farmer can and cannot grow. I am concerned that this amendment is being sponsored by those who do not represent the areas affected.members who are from urban areas. This amendment is opposed by those who represent the communities that will be affected, those people who are closest to the land, and those who care the most for the land because it is where they live and where they raise their children. This amendment is targeted at the Klamath Basin.an area that has seen its farmers and entire economy devastated by actions taken by the federal government. I have traveled to the Klamath Basin and seen the effects firsthand. I also represent two very large reclamation projects.including one of the largest in the country.and the success of these farmers comes from their hard work, the care they give the land and diversity of their crops. Passage of this amendment would set a very bad precedent of the government stating what crops can be grown and which canft. The impacts of the amendment would directly harm farmers and communities. The precedent it is sets would be far-reaching and very detrimental. I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment
offered by the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. BLUMENAUER). The
question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes
appeared to have it. Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I demand a
recorded vote. The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII,
further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman
from Oregon (Mr. BLUMENAUER) will be postponed. Mr. TAYLOR of
North Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee do now
rise. The motion was agreed to. Accordingly, the Committee rose;
and the Speaker pro tempore (Mr. HERGER) having assumed the
chair, Mr. LATOURETTE, Chairman of the Committee of the Whole
House on the State of the Union, reported that that Committee,
having had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2691) making
appropriations for the Department of the Interior and related
agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2004, and for
other purposes, had come to no resolution thereon. f LIMITATION
ON AMENDMENTS DURING FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 2691,
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS
ACT, 2004 Mr. TAYLOR of North Carolina.
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