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Leave it alone

Herald and News 9/8/04 by the late Henry Christiansen, former Tulelake refuge manager.

Two recent articles in the Herald and News, one by Rep. Earl Blumenauer and one by Jim McCarty, plus several by various environmentalists in which they advocate stopping farming on the 22,000 acres of refuge farm land prompted me to write this letter.

It's hard for me to understand why anyone would want to change something that has worked so well for many years that the Klamath Basin was the show place, from a wildlife standpoint, not only in the United States, but the world as well.

What would happen if they stopped farming the refuge and let the 22,000 acres of farmland sit idle?

As you drive the refuges, it's not hard to envision 22,000 acres of weeds. This is in an area where the local farmers have spent hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars fighting weeds throughout the years.

What would happen if the farm area were flooded?

First, to put a minimum of 2 acre-feet of water over the area, would take 44,000 acre-feet of water. Then add evaporation (3.7 acre-feet per year). That would take another 81,400 acre-feet.

Then there is the underground water loss. No figures are available, but undoubtedly it would exceed the evaporation loss of 81,400 acre-feet per year, bringing this total acre of water used to at least 206,800 acre-feet.

Farmers on average using approximately 2 acre-feet of water per acre each year are using approximately 44,000 acre-feet per year on the 22,000 acres farmed on the refuges.

That means it would take 162,800 acre-feet more water to flood the farm area than it takes to farm it. At present, that amount of water isn't available and there isn't anything indicating it will ever be available.

So let's leave well enough alone.

Henry Christensen






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