Klamath water decisions will cause farms to
DuVal of Ben DuVal Farms, commentary for Herald and News
No one likes to fail. But anyone who has been successful in life
is going to tell you that failure is part of a learning curve
necessary to be successful.
Yet to repeat failure is the definition of insanity. However,
that is exactly what is occurring on the Klamath Project right
now. We are taking 20+ years of bad decisions, based on poor
science, and doubling down on them.
Unfortunately, farms and ranches of the Klamath Basin are going
to fail as a result. Itís not because of bad business, poor work
ethic, or anything in our control. Rather, we are going to lose
farms and ranches this year because of insane approaches to
water management that are embedded in agency cultures.
An approach hell bent on destroying multi-generational
businesses is disturbing in its own right, but the foolishness
of the reasoning is even worse.
While it looks like the Klamath Project will only get as little
as 55,000 acre-feet in a year that irrigation demand would be
approximately 400,000 acre-feet, we are going to send a minimum
152,000 acre-feet of stored water from Upper Klamath Lake down
the Klamath River. Thatís 152,000 acre-feet, or more, of water
that never, under any circumstances, would have been provided by
nature. The only reason itís even available is the reservoirs
that were built for a single purpose ó storing irrigation water
for the Klamath farmers. How does a legitimate Biological
Opinion include water that naturally would have never even
Letís not forget that in natural conditions, prior to the
construction of the Klamath Project in the early 1900ís, there
were two large lakes here that evaporated over 2 acre-feet per
acre. The Project reclaimed that land, and allowed the water to
be stored behind dams and managed for beneficial uses. My farm,
like many on the Project, was developed on land that was under
10í or more of water until that time. Now, we are told that
there isnít even 0.5 acre-foot available for that same acre.
The Lower Klamath River isnít the only place there are
irrational decisions being made. Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) is
being held at a higher level than necessary, purportedly to
allow sucker populations in UKL to access spawning habitat.
Unfortunately, for the past 20 years, agency-imposed higher and
higher UKL levels have contributed to a whopping 0%
survivability. You read that right. Not 0.01% or 0.001%. ZERO.
Does it seem rational to continue to ruin the economic base of
the Klamath Basin in order to save zero fish?
The salmon of the Lower Klamath River and the suckers in UKL are
in bad shape. Iím not denying that it is a dire situation that
we need to address. Klamath Project farmers have always tried to
find ways to help the communities that depend on those
fisheries. We know firsthand what itís like to see a ruined
community. It happened in 2001 to our communities, and
unfortunately itís going to happen again in 2020. But,
continuing to double down on what HASNíT worked doesnít seem
like a solution to me.
Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing
over and over and expecting a different result. Truly, we are
living in insane times. I hope and believe that the Trump
Administration is coming to understand what a mess it inherited.
We urgently need a fix.
People who are concerned about the repercussions of bad
government policy and the failure of the ESA, are urged to join
farmers, ranchers, and businesses from across the west in a
Convoy for Change on May 29. Starting in Merrill, Ore. at 10
a.m., and moving through Klamath Falls, Ore., the convoy will
protest the shut down of the Klamath Irrigation Project.
Protesters are taking part to show a united stand for
agriculture, what it means to the economy of the Klamath Basin
and the rural west. Please join us and show support for the
farmers and ranchers of the Klamath Project who are Shut Down,
and Fed Up. Today, itís the Klamath Project being shut down.
Tomorrow, it could be your community.
For more information, please visit https://shutdownfedup.org/ or www.facebook.com/shutdownfedup/.
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