Klamath: 10 Years Later -
Part 3, Farmers Hurt by ESA Face Water Quality Challenge, Aug 17, 2011. "The TMDL for uplands in the Upper Klamath Lake watershed calls for a reduction of 18% in external phosphorous loading. But just 4% of total external loads come from agriculture pumping; this drives fears that the burden to improve water quality could fall disproportionately on agriculture's shoulders."
Klamath: 10 Years Later -
Part 2 Agriculture Faces Higher Electricity Costs, Progressive Farmer 8/16/11"There has been a massive push for federal funding to help project irrigators be more efficient with water, by installing high-pressure sprinkler systems and other equipment, since 2001. Such systems use less water, but require more electricity; there is an increasing need for energy at a time when dams are likely to be removed. Without the dams, power supplies become scarce, Addington said, putting upward pressure on prices....One of the criticisms of the KBRA is that it establishes water rights in the project although basin-wide adjudication is ongoing, Addington said."
Klamath: 10 Years Later -
Part 1: Northwest Agriculture Remains Divided on Water Resources, Progressive Farmer 8/15/11.
Ore. (DTN) -- Although Corn Belt
farmers scarcely face the
consequences of the Endangered
Species Act up close, Klamath Basin
farmers in Oregon and California say
the agriculture industry in other
parts of the country should take
notice and get organized before a
farmers learned the hard way how a
crisis can help unite farmers or
in the Klamath Basin -- southern
Oregon and northern California --
can track the beginning of
government involvement in deciding
water use back to the National
Reclamation Act in 1902. The act led
to reclaiming wetlands and turning
them into dams, canals and ditches
that encouraged irrigated fields.
Veterans from the two World Wars
were able to get plots of land
within the Klamath Project, which
eventually grew to 1,400 farms with
210,000 cultivated acres in 2000.
2001, in response to the Endangered
Species Act and court actions to
protect three endangered species of
fish, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
shut off water almost immediately to
project irrigators in the Klamath
farmers lost crops and property.
Many off-project farmers rushed in
to help any way they could. Beatty,
Ore., farmer Thomas Mallams brought
water, hay and money.
Mallams saw it was too little, too
late, and he realized farmers
shouldn't wait for a crisis before
they spring to action.
may be too late," Mallams said. "We
came to an unpleasant reality check
long ago that dealing with ESA and
other such issues is nothing more
than part of normal challenges
facing agriculture each and every
day -- much like the weather and
costs of doing business going up.
difference is, we can and will make
a difference here with how we
farmers in the Klamath Basin openly
accuse the federal government and
non-governmental organizations of
encroaching on their Constitutional
rights to own property -- most
notably water -- through the power
of the ESA.
while they struggled to survive when
their precious water was shut off,
their responses to what happened in
Klamath show what can happen to any
community in the country when faced
with such big challenges.
basin farmers formed alliances, and
pulled together the brightest minds
from on the farm to the front lines.
water battle also created friction
in the agriculture community --
farmer vs. farmer in some cases.
Klamath irrigation project farmers
have more senior water rights than
other farmers. Yet, project
irrigators are not allowed to
irrigate at times while many
off-project irrigators face no
sleeping giant was awakened in 2001
-- a spark of outrage among farmers
Valley, Calif., rancher Mark Baird
plans to stand up for as long as it
takes -- until he's left alone, or
even thrown in jail.
wardens show up on his property
unannounced and have threatened to
shut off his water, claiming he
needs a permit to divert water from
a nearby stream for irrigation.
said he finds evidence of
unauthorized visits on his land --
gates are left wide open and his
Friesian horses let free.
tired," he said. "I don't make a
dime on my ranch. We have no money
to the shutoff, Tulelake, Calif.,
farmer Jacqui Krizo said producers
mostly kept to themselves. The
subsequent Klamath Basin Restoration
Agreement in 2010 (see "Klamath: 10
Years Later - 2" in Recent Feature
Articles) that directs the use of
water, pitted project irrigators and
off-project irrigators against each
other. Farmers and ranchers
responded by forming alliances.
crime was I had never gone to an
irrigation district meeting," Krizo
not know who my congressmen and
senators were. I just knew that
whoever was involved in politics was
looking out for my best interests.
This is the crime that has happened
all over the world, because we
farmers don't want to be involved or
go to meetings or make calls. We
just want to farm and live a private
life and be left alone."
non-government organizations, land
conservancies, tribes and federal
agencies negotiated the KBRA, she
said she became suspicious at
farmers' limited representation at
the table. Groups who were at the
negotiating table only represented
10% of farmers from the Klamath
they weren't all involved in the
agreement that affects what happens
to their water, basin farmers have
familiarized themselves with the
Clean Water Act, the ESA, and try to
influence proposed legislation in
the state legislature and in
Following the water shutoff in 2001,
basin producers stood together in
protest. Thousands of people formed
a mile-long 'bucket brigade' line on
the streets of Klamath Falls, Ore.
was life prior to the KBRA in 2010.
whatever you do, don't, allow the
agencies and NGOs to convince you to
alienate your neighboring resource
users," Krizo said. "Here, our farm
leaders have the water fees of the
constituents to make deals with the
agencies and NGOs, against the
wishes of the majority of the
Addington, executive director of the
Klamath Water Users Association, a
group that represented project
irrigators at the KBRA table, said
the agreement was just the
think we have to be vigilant
constantly," he said. "What is the
time frame? At what point does
someone say, 'nice try, you guys.'
If they don't implement this
agreement, they can't say it didn't
work. I think it was naive
originally thinking there would be a
consensus. It was way more of a
process than it was an event, and it
will not go as planned."
County, Calif., Supervisor Marcia
Armstrong said anything short of
repealing the ESA isn't enough to
turn the tide in the region.
"Suddenly, private property must
satisfy the public interests of
species well-being before the
property can be used by its owner,"
rights of farmers to irrigate have
existed for decades, Armstrong said.
But now basin farmers must first
satisfy public in-stream flow needs
of endangered fish. The right to
harvest private woodlands for timber
must bend to set asides for
protected owl habitat, she said.
land or water rights owner left with
a valueless resource that he can not
economically develop for his
family's benefit is told that this
is not a property taking by the
public and that there will be no
just compensation for the value of
lost use," Armstrong said.
courts seem unsympathetic to the
owner's empty ditches, hands and
pockets. The legislatures appear
oblivious to the negative social and
economic consequences being felt by
families and communities from this
result, Armstrong said, farmers and
others have been "disheartened and
disenfranchised." This has led them
to "make bad bargains with their
freedoms and sell out their
neighbor's interests to survive,"
farmers that speak up, whether for
themselves or to support their
neighbors, it isn't easy.
said farmers realize that by
speaking up, their lives are then
under a microscope. She said that's
why farmers across the country
should conduct their business as if
the world is watching.
farming as efficiently and
environmentally friendly as you
can," she said. "Your methods must
be above reproach."
Neeley can be reached at