Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Ridin' Point
by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County District 5
UCE Farm & Ranch Advisor, 4-H

Siskiyou County is fortunate in partnering with the University of California, Davis - Cooperative Extension (U.C.E.) to support the local Farm Advisors (Steve Orloff and Dr. Harry Carlson,) Ranch Advisor (Dr. Dan Drake) and 4-H advisor (Jacki Zediker.) with office space and clerical staff. In Yreka, U.C.E. is located on Main Street. In Tulelake, the Farm Advisor budget is supported by both Modoc and Siskiyou County and is located at the Intermountain Research Extension Station on the border of Modoc and Siskiyou Counties.

According to the 2005 Siskiyou County Crop and Livestock Report, annual agricultural production values in the county top $147,638,371 ($195,205,386 with timber.) UCE provides scientific and technological support to this important local industry.

In the past few years, the Yreka UCE office had many accomplishments. Here are a few highlights:

A Hi-4-H program to provide leadership and citizenship opportunities for high-school aged youth was established. In 2005, this group designed and formally presented Siskiyou County with its own flag. In addition to doing many community service projects, members participate in Youth Adult Partnerships and Youth in Governance programs. During the past two years, among other subjects, members have learned about domestic violence and the legal system.

There are currently 12-15 local 4-H clubs with 125 adult volunteers working with approximately 400 young people. Groups have served their community through various projects such as cemetery cleanup, fund raising, and trail projects.

Dr. Lisa Thompson, UC Davis Fisheries Biologist, has worked in a collaborative nature to develop a better understanding of coho salmon habitat and its abundance in the Shasta River. Minnow traps and electronic tags implanted in captured juvenile fish are used to track their movement through the Shasta system.

Farm Advisor Steve Orloff has worked on research projects leading to soil moisture monitoring with sensors to improve water conservation and efficient irrigation management for alfalfa cropland and pasture. An educational video short course has also been developed. In addition, research on “deficit irrigation” of alfalfa and pasture land was conducted to measure the impact of the loss of water on the yield and forage quality of these perennial crops. This information will be particularly useful if a grower wants to voluntarily transfer ag water use to instream uses in critically dry years or in the late summer when salmon migration barriers exist – such as under the proposed Scott Valley Water Bank.     

U.C.E. has also conducted educational workshops on the proposed National Animal Identification System; genetic selection of cattle; alfalfa and small grains variety selection; alfalfa weevil management; and Roundup Ready Alfalfa – the first genetically engineered commercial perennial crop introduced in Siskiyou County in 2005.

In Tulelake at the Intermountain Research Extension Station, Dr. Carlson works with a staff of U.C. scientists on research and development of crops for the Klamath Basin area. In the area of research, peppermint is one of the newest crops and an experimental mini distillery allows for expanded research on its potential. In addition, the station has recently developed a new variety of potato having the quality of a European “new potato” or “baby potato.” The highly valued variety and development of value-added products will help with profitability of local farming operations.  Following the irrigation water cut-off in the Klamath Basin in 2001, another area of focus has been irrigation efficiency and conservation.      

Agriculture is a huge component of Siskiyou County’s economy. We are fortunate to be able to partner with UCE in this supportive work.

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