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PRESS RELEASE: Oregon Senator Gordon Smith 10/2/07

Smith Fights to Protect Klamath Farmers’ Water

            Washington, D.C – In a recent letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee, Oregon Senator Gordon Smith urged 2007 Farm Bill writers to designate the Klamath Basin as a national priority watershed.  The newly proposed Regional Watershed Enhancement Program is geared toward working agricultural lands and would provide funding for large scale water conservation projects. 

            “There is nothing more important than water for those who make their living from the land,” Smith said.  “If the water dries up, so does a farmer’s livelihood.  We need to continue the stewardship by the Klamath Basin farmers, and keep agricultural lands in production.”

            The Klamath watershed was designated as a priority watershed in the 2002 Farm Bill.  In their letter Senator Smith and Senator Ron Wyden asked the Senate Agriculture Committee to again include the Klamath Basin as a crucial watershed.  The 2002 Farm Bill brought needed resources to the region to create, enhance and preserve 16,737 acres of wetlands.  Since 2002, 54,503 acres of irrigation systems have been improved saving water consumption by 30% per year.  In addition to irrigation systems and wetland improvement, 2,800 acres of fish and wildlife habitat have been preserved.

            The 2002 Farm Bill expired on September 30th. The House passed its version of the Farm Bill in July.  Despite continued pressure to pass a new Farm Bill, there has yet to be any action in the Senate.

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