Project Tour hosted by the Bureau of
Reclamation for Humboldt University

#10

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At Harpold Dam
o   Description of Horsefly District and history
o   Crops, yield and markets
o   Endangered fish
o   Clear Lake Dam

Description of Horsefly District and history 

Bruce McCoy, Horsefly Irrigation District Manager: I donít know if you guys got the map, the Bureau maps? The main supply comes from Clear Lake and Gerber Reservoir. Lost River comes through Bonanza and hooks back around and goes into Tule Lake and actually ends up fairly close to where it started. There is no natural connection between Lost River and Klamath River, however I am sure they'll show you the diversion channel here in a little bit.  The diversion channel takes the excess water out.

The original dam was put in at Clear Lake to actually drain Tule Lake to hold the water back so they wouldnít flood down there.  Itís where the water would naturally collect. Then Horsefly in Langell Valley came in and developed the irrigation districts. My district's got about 10,000 acres.  We have a convoluted water supply.  We get some out of Clear Lake.  We get water thatís runoff water from Langell Valley out of Gerber. Weíve got a couple wells.  Weíve got some springs at Bonanza and just wherever else we can get a little bit here and there, we kind of get by.

Right now the river is running pretty high and pretty fast. We had a rain event out here on Tuesday and had about an inch and two tenths at my house, and thatís a big rain for out here. We're on the dry end of the valley. So my farmers, being really sweet people, they canít go out and irrigate in the rain cause theyíll melt, so they all shut off and send the water down the river, and thatís why we're flushing all this vegetation out. Normally what youíd do, you wouldnít hardly be able to see the flow on a typical day without a rain and people shutting down, Iíd be sending about 20 to 25 CFS through Harpold. This morning Iím pumping about 200 just trying to get it cleared out so we can get the water level back down.

Langell Valley runs about 16,000 acres out of the two reservoirs. I donít think they have any wells, a few private wells, and we have another 15,000 like I said, so weíve got a small portion of the entire Project that we think is pretty important. Weíve got several dairies in the area so we grow a lot of alfalfa to supply those dairies, and some cereal grains and potatoes, pastureland.  Typically we start irrigation in the middle of April, run thru the end of September, also depending on the weather. This year we didnít start until well into May because we had some pretty good rain. We're kind of winding up now, once it got hot, the moisture we got from the rains really made things come on pretty fast.  Most people are either cutting or about to cut their third cutting alfalfa and thatís about all their going to get. Some of the dairies are going to cut their fourth cutting. Any questions, anything else I can explain?

Crops, yield and markets

QUESTION: What do you make the most money growing here?

McCoy: Alfalfa is a consistent crop. Potatoes make more money generally. You can have some pretty bad years. John could probably tell you a little more about growing potatoes then I can, but the advent of the sprinklers helped a lot because everybody solid sets their sprinklers so when we get the frosty days after they come up and start to grow real nice we can protect them from frost.

Deb Crisp, Executive Director Tulelake Growers Association: Market conditions have a lot to do with that. We grow a lot of fresh potatoes.  I would say that our high dollar profits are the potatoes, onions, and alfalfa. Those are the three, and mint.

Crawford: The lease lands are a real classic example of that production ability because the lease lands....on the Tulelake side, there are no row crops produced on the lease lands of Lower Klamath, there are row crops produced only on 25% of the acres, 75% are in cereal grains at any given time, but that 25% the competition in that bidding process creates about twice as much revenue per acre as the Lower Klamath side which is in pasture and in cereal grains.

McCoy: Sugar beets looked like thereís going to be a real crop and for two years about they did real well, growth swelled here, good production, good sugar content, but then the processing plants moved so far away that it just became impossible to ship.

Crawford:  We went from 7000 acres of beets one year to zero.

McCoy: There are some of these guys whoíve got a lot of equipment that sits each year that doesnít do much. Some of my potato growers are not growing potatoes this year for one reason or another, but they've got a huge investment in sprinklers, potato processing equipment, thatís just sitting this year.

Crisp: We can grow a number of different potato varieties so, because of our different soil, it depends on what we plant: Yukon gold, Norkotas, Burbank, red potatoes. We can grow a lot of different varieties because of good soils and good climatic conditions.

McCoy: Dan Chin this year is growing some little potatoes for a specialty market.

 


Debra Crisp, Tulelake Growers Association director---center

Dr. Ken Rykbost, Oregon State University Experiment Station: One of the most devastating things about 2001 was our potato growers had been through about five consecutive years of very poor market prices for fresh market potatoes and in 2001, not because of our lack of potatoes here, but because of North America wide shortage of potatoes, they could have enjoyed eight dollar a hundred weight price for potatoes all year through and maybe more then that in late summer, and they didnít have any potatoes to sale. A year before we had sold our crop for about a dollar and a quarter per hundred.

Crisp: And it cost about 1500 to 2000 dollars an acre to plant.

McCoy: Thereís been years when they send them to the processing plant and get a bill instead of a check.

QUESTIONS: Which of those crops uses the most water?

Rykbost: Alfalfa.

QUESTION: And you can make money on alfalfa? You sale it to the dairy people?

Crisp:  A lot of our alfalfa goes to the California dairies, some to the coastal dairies. It tests very high in protein so it enhances milk production and  it is very desirable for dairy hay. Some of it also goes to the press up in Aliceburg and is shipped overseas.

Rykbost: Our climate with warm sunny days and cool nights gives us some quality advantages in a number of crops. Alfalfa grows shorter inner nodes with more leaf and less stem, grain crops grow high bushel weights; 48 pounds is standard for barley.  We frequently see 56-pound barley, to 40-pound oats as opposed to 32 pounds standard. When we had sugar beets we had some of the highest sugar contents grown in the county, and it is because of these warm sunny days and cool nights.

QUESTION: Why did the processing plants leave?

ANSWER: The whole sugar industry in the country was upset by importing a lot more sugar from foreign countries. Canada was putting sugar into molasses and exporting it into the US, taking the sugar out and sending the molasses back and doing it again.

Crawford: With the advent of NAFTA you had Cuban sugar coming in to Mexico and finding its way into the United States. There was no avenue for that sugar to be competitive with American sugar previous to that.

Rykbost:: Plus the sugar company bought up a bunch of companies and got themselves into deep debt that they couldnít get out of when the price of sugar fell.

QUESTION: Are your potatoes competitive with Idaho potatoes?

Crisp: They're better.

Crawford: The basic price difference is, we're closer to the market; we're closer than Idaho.

QUESTION: Cause I heard stories that Simplot took over all of the potato market and made it economically unviable to grow potatoes here? Itís not true huh?

Rykbost: One of the biggest problems for the potato industry is that we're importing more frozen french fries from Canada then we're exporting to the rest of the world. Canada with our strong dollar and their weak dollar has taken advantage of that situation and not just with potatoes but with other crops as well. But that it is one of our big problems in the potato industry, and they have expanded their acreage dramatically in Western Canada in the last five years.

Crawford: The shame of it is that the producers in Canada, the on-the-farm producers, are not able to take advantage of NAFTA and its circumstances because they're selling their product to a processor that came from America and built a plant for Canadian dollars and then it is that processor that is using that cheap dollar verses the high priced dollar to make 25 to 30%.  If there is no efficiency at all in his operation, he is making that on the conversion of that dollar, and the same goes certainly for the tremendous amounts of Canadian grain. Canadian grain farmers are not any happier with NAFTA then are American farmers.

Crisp: They aren't heavily subsidized. We hear a lot about how we are subsidized by the government, but there are very few subsidies available for this area just because of the crops we grow.

Endangered fish

Crawford: The one thing that Bruce perhaps neglected to mention is his endangered fish on the east side. In Clear Lake Reservoir and Gerber Reservoir there are healthy populations of endangered suckers.  There are very diverse year types, they successfully spawned in '92 and in '94, and those year classes are present out there, perhaps some of the healthiest populations in the Klamath Basin. And when Curt talked about this year's class development and stuff,  I think he was focusing on the Upper Klamath Lake, because there are five populations of suckers in the basin and each of those populations has itís own dynamics and certainly circumstances are a lot different. A lot of the things we strive to achieve in Upper Klamath Lake donít occur in Clear Lake, particularly when it comes to edge line vegetation and the use by larvae and juvenile fish of that vegetation, because there is no vegetation in Clear Lake at all, or shoreline vegetation.  The water is murky and perhaps that provides protection from predators, but certainly we have good populations of fish in Clear Lake. I donít think we know enough about those populations either except that we know they are there.

Mullis, Thatís true, we think that they are healthy but those estimates, or that idea, is based on a lot less information then we have on Upper Klamath.

McCoy:  I mentioned the springs at Bonanza that these are fairly large springs that have been rated as high as 90 CFS come out right at the town, and thatís a pretty healthy population right there around the springs and you know I hear stories from people who have been here all their lives, they're in their 70's, that they used to drive a wagon into the river and just take a pitch fork and load a wagon load full (of sucker fish). But I know that they're still there; thereís lots of fish. I put in dam boards, vertical boards in my dams in the spring to start backing the water up and I stopped one spring with a board in my hand and watched a big fish about this long go between my legs and back and I waited for her to decided which side of the dam she wanted to be on before I put the board in, but you know they're right there at the springs.  We know they spawn heavily right at the springs, good area for them.  If the springs are consistent they stay in there.

Clear Lake Dam

QUESTION: And there are no lake level requirements on Clear Lake?

McCoy: Yes, yes there are. According to Bob he thinks that we're close to it, but we donít think that we are because we donít think they know how to read the gauge. Itís partly to do with the new dam and we want to thank all you tax payers for helping pay for a new dam that wasnít necessary.

QUESTION: Is the dam finished?

McCoy: Well the contractor/s gone. Now whether itís done or not I have no idea because they are up there repairing it a couple months ago and itís just been last spring they finished it. The old dam was doing fine as far as I can see, but anyway, we had to spend some of your money and we thank you very much for it. Part of the old dam is still in and I think thatís part of the problem.  Weíve got this void in between them and I think thatís what going on. A dam that is designed to carry 525 thousand, I think it says that in this little sheet here, I donít think it will carry that much now because itís soaked it up quite a bit, but has never filled, never gone over the spill area so we had to put in a new one that is a little higher, with higher spill rates to make sure it will never go over the spill area.

Crawford: Clear Lake has never, never filled since 1911.

Comment: 1910 it went into service.

McCoy: And they put it in with horses and fresnos, and you know I think it is absolutely the best way to build a dam. You run horses across there, I mean if you go walk across a horse pasture you know there is nothing harder in the world then the damn horse pasture. They just pounded that thing to the point where it was never going to go out.

Rykbost: One other economic fact that might be interesting for these folks, our farm gate value of our crops produced in the Project averages about one hundred million dollars a year. And that contrasts with the farm gate equivalent for all of Oregonís fisheries including shellfish and everything else, is about 77 million the last numbers I saw. So this is not an insignificant economic situation here.
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#11   o   Cattle and dairies
        
o   Tulelake Irrigation District (TID) wells/water bank
         o   Tule Lake historical depth and quantity and evaporation
         o   Homesteaders
         o   Canal lining, pros and cons

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