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Herald and News: Klamath Falls, Oregon

Letter to the Editor:

Don't buy Barnes Ranch

I would like to give you my thoughts about the possibility of the Bureau of Reclamation's purchasing the Barnes Ranch in Fort Klamath for the purpose of storing 50,000 acre-feet of water.

To store that amount of water on 2,821 acres would require a dike around the property perimeter 25 feet in height. Considering the way peat ground subs (percolates water), raising a 2,818-acre lake is likely to create seepage and inundation of the adjacent ranches, one of which I own.

In the early spring, my ranch and two neighboring ranches pump water away from our ranches to lower the water table, so the land will grow the grass we need for our cattle to graze.

I would estimate the perimeter of 2,821 acres as being about nine miles. Has anyone estimated the cost of constructing nine miles of dikes? Dikes with the necessary riprap rock to combat all the wave action of the water caused by the frequent winds that blow across the Fort Klamath valley?

It is my guess that the initial cost of purchasing the ranch is just the beginning of money that will need to be spent to hold back 50,000 acre-feet of water.

As you know, the owners of the Barnes Ranch are asking $9.1 million for this property they purchased for approximately $1.6 million about 10 years ago.

According to an editorial in the Klamath Falls Herald and News, the Bureau appraised the ranch at $4.55 million. The American Land Conservancy has come up with an appraisal of $7 million. That type of discrepancy in land value appraisal is beyond making any sense.

Considering the purchase price of the Barnes Ranch and the potential cost of construction and maintaining the dikes and the likely problems this project will create for the adjacent ranches, I can see no cost-effectiveness and few positive benefits from this proposed taxpayer-funded project.

I am of the opinion that the federal government has bought enough land that is then removed from the local tax roll. This project should not go forward.

Lewis M. Mathis

Fort Klamath

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