The Bald Eagle Conference had Dan Keppen, executive
director of Klamath Water Users Association, Andy Kerr, representing
Oregon Natural Resources Council, Bob Davison from Wildlife Management
Institute of Bend, and Kristen Berry, regional director of the National
Audubon Society, as panel speakers Saturday Feb.15, at Mills Elementary
School. Each speaker presented their views to over 70 people
regarding the Endangered Species Act, then the panel was asked questions.
Davidson and Barry both felt that the
endangered species act needed to be strengthened. Davidson also advocated
more communication and partnerships with landowners, getting facts and
plans exposed to the public. He stressed using the 'best available
science', and was critical of the National Academy of Science taking 1 1/2
years and costing $600,000. Not knowing cause-and-effect of water levels
and habitat on listed species, he feels it is prudent to use governmental
agencys' opinions of 'best available science', "When you don't know, you
got to err on the side of species."
Barry said that "Water, nature's lifeblood, has been
drained away" by agriculture, and felt that 2001 was the first victory for
the ESA concerning suckers, coho and tribes. He criticized the
Bureau of Reclamation for creating farmland in the Klamath Basin, and
said, "The carnage of last year's fish kill is more than a warning sign
that we are on the verge of ecological disaster," inferring that the
Klamath Basin killed the Klamath River fish last summer.
Dan Keppen explained, "In the last 10 years, since
the two sucker species were listed as endangered and coho salmon were
listed under the threatened species act, BO's rendered by USFW and Nymphs
for suckers, and NMFS for coho salmon, have increasingly emphasized
the reallocation of water in the Klamath Project as the sole means of
avoiding jeopardizing these fish." This resulted in the water
shut-off of 2001, which harmed farmers, the whole community, waterfowl
that feed on our crops and eagles which eat the waterfowl. Banks
aren't loaning money with no guarantee of irrigation water, and the potato
chip company may leave with no guarantee of water for our crops. The NAS
said there is not sufficient science to shut off water, yet the USFWS and
environmental groups still demand lake level management. The single
species recovery plan to protect 3 species has greatly harmed many of the
other 430 species of wildlife here in the basin.
Keppen went on to describe how the Klamath Project
was built and paid for by farmers to store water to irrigate farms.
The lake was rerouted for irrigation needs. The project represents
only 2% of the watershed going to the ocean, 200 miles away, however the
project is currently targeted as the sole means of restoring coho and
suckers. In 2001, with thousands of acres shut off from water and
grain, the wildlife was greatly harmed. He brought to our attention how
'chillingly prophetic' Governor Kitzhaber's insight was in 1998 that with
the recommended project plan on a dry water year, all project water
would be stopped.
Freezing litigation and putting dollars into a
long-term solution for the ecosystem seemed the prudent beginning to our
farm and species problems. Keppen's list of required principles
would include being "affordable, equitable, implemental, durable, and
reducing major conflicts". "Look at the whole watershed, not just
the 2% from the Klamath Project" We have spent thousands of
volunteer hours in processes of environmental restoration within the
project. Keppen asked what benefits are there with lake-level management:
water quality? certainty for farmers? more sucker fish in the lake? more
coho from dumping warm water into the river late in the summer? 500,000
acre feet of water is diverted into the Trinity River, which is more than
the project uses, but we farmers are being forced to bare sole
Andy Kerr ceaselessly criticized the farmers.
He said that their corn, soybeans, and barley get huge subsidies,"they get
subsidized electrical power,"and Farmers love the lifestyle so much that
they are economically irrational." Keppen explained that we have no
major subsidies in the Klamath Basin. We do not grow corn or soybeans, and
alfalfa, potatoes, horseradish, and mint have no subsidies.
Occasionally there are small grain subsidies. He explained that our
current power rate is not a subsidy, but it was a business contract.
Kerr listed globalization, limited crop demand and growing season,
cheaper Canadian wheat and Chinese onions, better paying jobs in town,
global warming, more tribal and ESA demands, Reclamation doesn't work
anymore, farmers addiction to a lifestyle, and 33,000 dead salmon,
as reasons that farmers should willingly sell out and leave. He said that
idling farmland and flooding leaselands and recreating more wetlands would
put more water in the system. (Dan explained to Kerr and the
audience that farmland uses approximately 2 1/2 acre feet of water
compared to over 3 acre feet for wetlands...creating wetlands does not
save water. idling land will cause it to blow away, make a dust
bowl, and impact the entire community--farms and businesses dependant on
the farms. "By saying we are going to retire land now, you're jumping to
the conclusion that the project is the curse of all the problems in the
Klamath Basin and that's a pretty drastic solution to undertake before
having a pretty good sense of how all these other things are factored in."
He also added that in the last 10 yrs, USFWS is using historically more
water than before). Kerr stated, "Farmers farm land and the
government... . It's a great place to grow horseradish, but you know
how many people have a jar of horseradish in their refrigerator and it's
been there for about 18 years.' (fact from KBC--the Klamath Basin
produces over 1000 acres of horseradish, which is over 30% of that grown
in the United States! Keppen explained to him that many areas also demand
Klamath Basin potatoes and alfalfa because of our fertile soil and
weather, the produce is exceptionally rich). Kerr said that
2002 was a horrible year for Klamath Basin crops at the expense of 33,000
dead salmon. .(Dan replied, "It was a good year (for crops and
prices), that isn't a correct statement.")
Farming in the Klamath Basin is viable, stated
Keppen, but the litigation is affecting the farmers. Outside
interests are trying to get farmers off their land. "Farmers provide
60% of feed that waterfowl in the refuge use"
The farmers appreciated being invited to the forum to
share their knowledge and species recovery ideas with the public.
For more about the Oregon Natural Resources Council
(ONRC), that Andy Kerr represents,
here's the link:
The Wildlands Project History
It also describes it's links with the United Nations, and plans of rural
cleansing, using the ESA.
The central office of the Wildlands project is located in Tucson, Arizona
and serves as a clearinghouse and coordination point for implementing the
project. Funds for the project are obtained through solicitations,
advertisements and from grant-makers such as the Bullett Foundation.
For example, in 1993 and 1994 the Bullett Foundation gave the Wildlands
Project member, Oregon Natural Resources Council $95,000 alone for
"advocacy work based on good science, agency monitoring and appeals."
In their spring 1996 newsletter, Friends of the Bow/Biodiversity
Associates acknowledged thanks for the grants it received from the
Foundation for Deep Ecology, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, National
Rivers Coalition, Fund for Wild Nature, Harder Foundation, and Reraam
Foundation. Donations from Patagonia and New Belgium Brewing Company are