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Oregon’s 1010 wrap stirs controversy

By TAM MOORE Oregon Staff Writer

Seven years into an agriculture water quality plan for the Klamath Basin’s Lost River drainage, ranchers Bill Kennedy, left, and Glenn Barrett. Last week the co-chairmen of the Lost River local advisory commission asked for additional time to negotiate rules acceptable to farmers distrustful of the government.

MEDFORD, Ore. — Agricultural water quality plans for Oregon came full circle last week, back to Medford where in 1996 the Oregon Board of Agriculture approved its first pollution-limiting plan under a 1993 law called Senate Bill 1010.

When the ag board returned to Medford it wasn’t a pretty picture of cooperation with landowners. The state is in the final stretch of adopting the final four regional water plans, and the ag board indicated it will override local wishes to make a court-ordered deadline.

Rancher Tom Mallams, chairman of the Klamath headwaters local advisory committee, told the board his committee “didn’t feel very comfortable with what came back from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.”

The ag board ordered the plan adopted anyway.

It also turned aside two requests for more negotiations between local advisory committees on the Lost River, also part of the Klamath Basin, and Curry County areas west of the Coast Range Mountains.

“It appears we are just going ahead with them,” ODA spokesman Bruce Pokarney said after the March 4 meeting adjourned.

The other outstanding ag water quality plans, covering the Lower John Day and Crooked River basins, are in their final stages of public comment and should be ready for ag board consideration in June.

In the controversy-ripe Klamath Basin, where in 2001 the federal government cut off irrigation water to 1,100 farms in its Klamath Reclamation Project, distrust of government continues. For 1010 plans it focuses on ODA insistence that reference to Oregon Revised Statutes 468B be included in rules.

“We are asked to trust a state agency that they would do right by us,” said Mallams.

Technically, he said it appears that the state could construe leaves falling from a willow planted as part of streamside restoration as pollution because the source is the result of a landowner’s action.

“We take the stance that 468B is dictated by the other department (of Environmental Quality) ... We pledge to help you if you see problems,” said Ken Bailey of The Dalles, an ag board member. Bailey was chairman of his local advisory committee.

The Lost River advisory committee co-chairmen Bill Kennedy and Glenn Barrett told the ag board they felt so strongly about the 468B issue they hired a private attorney. After legal advice, they concluded the state doesn’t have enforcement authority unless it cites “an antiquated law that can get you in trouble with definitions.”

In Curry County on Oregon’s far South Coast, the issue is which streams are subject to ag water quality plans. Local Advisory Committee Chairman Ted Fitzgerald said his associates read the 1010 law, and determined it covers only those streams the state listed as out of compliance with water quality standards. ODA takes the position that all streams, except those short coastal streams blocked from the ocean by beach sands, are regulated.

“This is overbroad, to include non-listed watersheds,” Fitzgerald told the ag board.

ODA apparently told the committee its work was finished. The committee, which met March 2 anyway, instructed Fitzgerald to say it wants to continue involvement. Ray Jaindl, the ODA 1010 coordinator, said he would forward public comments being taken until March 15.

Jaindl said the department substituted a rule adopted a couple of years ago for the Coquille Basin when it reached what it considered an impasse with the Coastal Curry local advisory committee.

Tam Moore is based in Medford, Ore. His e-mail address is cappress@charter.net.






Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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