Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Basin Restoration Agreement will destroy Klamath County Cattle
Roger Nicholson, President of Resource Conservancy and Fort
Klamath Critical Habitat Landowners,
October 25, 2009
In a recent Herald and News story, Senator Whitsett pointed out the devastating effect the Restoration Agreement and dam removal agreements would have on the Klamath cattle industry. Several days later Becky Hyde dismissed the Senator’s statement by questioning his perception.
The Senator was merely stating the obvious, the Restoration Agreement advocated retiring tens of thousands of acres outside the Klamath Project, which would devastate the Klamath County cattle industry.
The vast majority of the cattle numbers in Klamath County are pastured in Off-Project areas. Ranches, like ours, are responsible for making Klamath County the sixty-ninth largest cow county and eighty-seventh largest stocker cattle county in the nation. The cattle industry is the number one agricultural industry in Klamath County and in the State of Oregon. Even as impressive as these numbers are, slippage in cattle numbers is noticeable in the last several years. The main reason slippage has occurred is the purchase and agricultural retirement of 100,000 acres of land by the US Government and The Nature Conservancy. To our knowledge, not one acre of Project Land has been retired. The Restoration Agreement sets in motion retirement of an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water, as well as a process to idle most of the remainder of the Upper Basin. When is enough, enough?
The local Klamath County Cattlemen’s Association, the state-wide Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, and Water for Life have seen the destructive nature of the Restoration Agreement and have taken an active stand against its unfair anti-cattle industry provisions.
It was confusing to many why Becky Hyde and Karl Scronce formed an organization, “Upper Klamath Water Users Association” (UKWA), when the role seemed to be duplicative to existing representation, provided by Resource Conservancy. Resource Conservancy has represented all active contestants in the Upper Basin in the present adjudication, as well as most of the irrigated landowners in the Upper Basin. It later became apparent that most of the time positions taken by Ms. Hyde and Mr. Scronce’s new group “have been against those of Resource Conservancy” and adversarial in nature. It was hard to understand why some of these positions were taken until research was completed.
Sustainable Northwest, a non-profit group from Portland, Oregon, helped Ms. Hyde fund her ranch in Beatty, Oregon through outside investors and a grant from Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) that provided $225,000 of public monies. Coincidentally, on the OWEB Board was a Board Member of Sustainable Northwest. A conservation easement on Ms. Hyde’s property was then deeded to the Klamath Tribes. The Klamath Tribes then became a partner of Ms. Hyde in this real estate venture.
The Restoration Agreement negotiating group refused to allow Resource Conservancy a seat at the negotiating table to represent Upper Basin irrigators. However, Ms. Hyde and the UKWA were recently granted a seat at the Restoration Agreement negotiating table to represent the Off-Project water community. Ms. Hyde gained access to the negotiating table as a consultant to Sustainable Northwest, which in turn gained access by being a consultant to the Klamath Tribes. The Klamath Tribes are claiming virtually all of the water. At the same time, Ms. Hyde is supposedly representing the ranch lands from which the Tribes are trying to take the water. This, in our opinion, is an actual conflict of interest.
Even more disturbing, Sustainable Northwest’s latest tax return shows Ms. Hyde was paid $63,835, as a consultant to Sustainable Northwest, which further emphasizes her conflict of interest, in our opinion.
Ms. Hyde’s Co-Director of the UKWA, Karl Scronce, sold his Off-Project property for $2 million dollars on September 20, 2008. On October 13, 2008, he became a director of the newly formed UKWA. At the same time, Mr. Scronce is a Board Member of the Klamath Water Users Association, which represents Project water users. The Klamath Water Users Association has signed papers, which state that the Klamath Tribes own virtually all of the water in Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River. Even a casual observer can recognize the conflict of interest in this situation.
The Restoration Agreement is cultural genocide to ranchers and their families in Klamath County. An attempt has been made to discredit the Upper Basin representational organizations and replace them with individuals and organizations with conflicted ulterior motives. Our people stand united with Senator Whitsett in seeking a fair and equitable solution for all.
Roger Nicholson, President of Resource Conservancy and Fort Klamath Critical Habitat Landowners
Garrett Roseberry, President of Resource Conservancy and Sprague River Water Resource Foundation
Page Updated: Thursday March 15, 2018 07:11 PM Pacific
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