Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Suckers hang around restored wetland Former cow pasture near Modoc Point now sucker habitat --
KBC commentary regarding the Herald and News Wetland article
Last year KBC and dozens of people went on a tour of the Upper Klamath Basin (HERE for tour). As far a you could see was water---ranches acquired by our federal government and/or The Nature Conservancy. So far, over 94 THOUSAND acres (HERE for breakdown of acquisitions) of farms and ranches have been bought by the agencies and environmental groups in the guise of storage, and now they compliment their 'wetlands', 'sucker habitat', and "restoration".
What is wrong with this scenario?
Most of this land was acquired with the stated purpose of promising irrigators "more storage water for irrigation."
They tell people that retiring farmland will 'save water'. Wetlands use twice the amount of water as agricultural irrigation.
According to the Upper Basin tour last year, besides evaporating much coveted water, the water quality became worse in many instances.
According to David Vogel, fisheries scientist, at the July 17th Congressional Hearing in Klamath Falls regarding the ESA, when the suckers were listed as endangered, only a few thousand were counted. Now they know that there are tens of thousands, and they would not have been listed if they had counted these fish before listing them. And agriculture, according to past studies, had nothing to do with sucker decline.
Over 95% of sucker habitat is blocked by the Chiloquin Dam. It was unanimously voted by local government agencies and tribes and irrigators to remove the dam to restore the habitat. At that time no funds had been allotted by the Department of the Interior to count the suckers. To this date, the dam blocks 95% of sucker habitat, there is no count of how many suckers there were, are, or should be, and our government continues to take our land in the guise of sucker habitat, and 'storage' which we can't use because it gets branded for 'endangered sucker habitat'. They dawdle on removing the dam so they have reason to keep taking land from farmers and ranchers. They have decimated our ranching economy already.
According to Dr. William Lewis from the National Academy of Science who peer-reviewed our Klamath "science", he said that no matter how many wetlands we make, we will never 'fix' the water quality of the vast Klamath Lake. And "he explained that Clear Lake does not have the habitat that scientists are trying to create in the Upper Basin for suckers, yet Clear Lake has stable populations of healthy suckers... These (in Clear Lake) have all the characteristics we want in recovered population." (from February 3, 2004 science workshop)
Compounded with the government and Nature Conservancy taking over 94,000 acres of our land and flooding and evaporating twice that number of acre feet of water, they are demanding irrigators to retire over 100,000 acre feet of water next year. If we don't sell our water or land use 'voluntarily', we have been told that the Project will probably be shut down---that's what they said in 2003 and 2004. This is downsizing our ag community by 50,000 acres of irrigated land. Rangeland Trust has gotten a monopoly in the Upper Basin on selling water to the government, retiring thousands of acres of agriculture land. The Department of the Interior wants to buy the Barnes Ranch for storage and wetlands for suckers......? If it has suckers, how can it be used for storage? For more on Barnes, go HERE. For the point of view of a neighbor of Barnes Property, Paul Little, go HERE.
The more land they take in the Upper Basin, the less water and agriculture and economy. The more water they send downstream, the less water and agriculture and economy. And since they have done all of this--the water bank, the 'storage' land acquisitions, the wetlands, we now have less assurance of getting water for our farms than we ever have had in the past 100 years.
And for the solutions that would make more water here, Long Lake storage, and produce more 'suckers', remove the Chiloquin Dam, those projects have been disregarded while the land acquisition and water acquisition goes on and on and on. The peer-reviewed science is being disregarded too.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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