testify to their losses, Trial results could be wide-ranging
by Holly Dillemuth, Herald and
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Klamath Basin irrigator Luther Horsley
has a name for April 6, 2001.
refer personally to it as Black Friday,” Horsley said.
Horsley is talking about the day he and many others found
out that irrigation water would be shutoff for the
preservation of the endangered sucker and coho salmon. The
decision stems from biological opinions issued by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries
Service officials in 2001.
Although he said many such as row crop farmers were affected
far worse, Horsley was still visibly shaken by the events of
that day, and those which followed.
personally regret that I took too much of the stress home to
the dinner table,” Horsley said.
also recalls how hard it was on his wife to sell off their
cattle herd as the family ran out of feed for the livestock.
uncertainty of it was so stressful,” Horsley said.
Testimony in the co-called “takings” case wrapped up for the
first week of trial Friday afternoon at the United States
Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.
plaintiffs in the case — Klamath Irrigation District et al —
brought various witnesses to the stand to testify, while a
full gallery looked on. The case could have wide-ranging
ramifications on how the federal government decides when to
curb water to irrigators (called a takings) versus
protecting endangered fish downstream.
the farmers and ranchers are seeking up to $30 million in
compensation for loss of income in 2001, to many observers,
the more important issue is forcing the Bureau of
Reclamation to weigh the cost to irrigators across the West
when it decides to limit water.
Long, who arrived earlier in the week, testified to what he
called the “alleged” taking of irrigation water in the
Klamath Reclamation Project.
as a singular event but an ongoing event,” Long said. “We
see impacts in our community today that resulted. Thou shalt
not steal,” he added, citing the biblical commandments.
Richard Howitt, an agricultural economist for 40 years, also
testified Friday about the value of the water. He determined
the price of $84.95 per acre foot of water for the fair
market value of the irrigation water referred to in the
multiplying $84.95 by 336,500 acre feet of water, Howitt
said he determined the average value of the water to be more
than $28 million. He explained his methods for his
conclusion in lengthy testimony Friday.
calculation isn’t one as to the amount due the individual
farmer,” stated the plaintiff’s attorney Roger Marzulla, of
Marzulla Law, “rather it is the average amount that would
have been paid to purchase the amount of water taken in
trial could last well into February. Special counsel for the
plaintiff, Bill Ganong of Klamath Falls, who has followed
the case for more than a decade, declined to comment on the
United States as a defendant may call the following
individuals as witnesses over the course of the remainder of
trial, in addition to others: former Klamath Basin Area
Office manager for the Bureau of Reclamation Karl Wirkus;
Deputy Area Manager of the Klamath Project Jason Cameron;
Moss Driscoll, senior water and lands specialist for the
Klamath Basin Area Office of the BOR; Ron Larson, a former
United States Fish & Wildlife Service employee; and Michael
Green, natural resources specialist and leaseland program
manager for the U.S. BOR in Klamath Falls.
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