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River gets financial boost
$100,000 water grant goes to Sprague River
By STEVE KADEL H&N Staff Writer May 19, 2006

   Efforts to improve water quality in the Sprague River have gotten a financial boost.
   A $100,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be used to reduce erosion into the river and for riparian habitat health. The money for the Klamath Watershed Council is earmarked for grazing management practices beginning this summer.
   An overall goal of the project is to benefit suckers in Upper Klamath Lake, said Ron Hathaway of the Oregon State University Extension Service.
   He said the grant is another step in a long effort to improve the Sprague River by minimizing effects of cattle grazing. Ranchers in the Sprague River valley are increasingly supportive of the movement, Hathaway said.
   “If we looked back two years we’d never gotten that response. It was not a relationship of trust. But the community has really stepped up for what they can do on their land.”
   Changing attitudes
   Dave Ross, restoration manager for Fish and Wildlife, agrees that ranchers’ attitudes have changed toward grazing issues.
   “We have more support and interest from those ranchers than I ever dreamed of,” Ross said. “Our relationship with them has never been better. We want the ranchers to stay there and we want to work with them.”
   Techniques will vary from ranch to ranch, he said. Some ranchers will rotate stock from one grazing area to another while others might opt to open new pastures with additional fencing, Ross said. Still others will choose to fence off wetlands.
   The accumulated effect will be less nitrogen and phosphorous going into the Sprague River.
   “When you have excessive amounts of streambank and soil erosion, the earth washed into the stream gets released and that gives rise to algae, which uses up oxygen and kills fish,” Ross said.
   As part of the program, Klamath Watershed Council coordinator Danette Watson will move from an office in Klamath Falls to a site in the Sprague River valley. That’s intended to make communication with ranchers easier and more effective.
   Hathaway noted that Watson has had to drive 90 minutes round trip to visit Sprague River farmers in the past.
   The Klamath County commissioners accepted the grant at their weekly meeting Tuesday, and also authorized receipt of a separate $20,000 Fish and Wildlife grant to fund, among other things, hiring of part-time employee Jill Estenson as Watson’s assistant.



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