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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
 

Upper Klamath Lake Government Acquisitions

 97,160 acres of agricultural land has been converted into wetlands from ag as primary water usage
(above Klamath Lake).  
Wetlands use nearly 2ce as much water as ag lands.

Of nearly 150,000 acres above Upper Klamath Lake ag land previously irrigated by surface water, there are now only 50,000 acres left. The tribes, U.S. government, and environmental groups want it all.

The U.S. Government and The Nature Conservancy have taken nearly 100,000 acres of private farms and ranches, and converted them into wetlands. One ranch at a time, Government agencies and TNC promised that these farm and ranch acquisitions would save water, improve water quality, benefit fish, and store water for the rest of the irrigators and put more water into the Klamath River. The opposite is true. Scroll to bottom of page for science refuting those claims. Go here for audio of Barnes Ranch snow job. Go HERE for Bureau and Interior letter advocating for the snow job.

"The average consumptive use for the crop mix in the project is just about 2.0 Acre Feet/acre. Wetlands probably use about 3.0 to 3.5 AF/acre or maybe a little more for permanently flooded wetlands with cattails and tules. So it's a little less than twice but certainly well above the use for crops." Dr. Ken Rykbost. HERE for biography.

Evaporation documentation go HERE for Desert Resource Institute.
Report from Dr Rykbost, which used NOAA data, although they only measured May-Sept pan Evaporation. http://oregonstate.edu/dept/kes/ar01chpt01.pdf

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The following was submitted to KBC by Edward Bartell, Upper Klamath Basin rancher:

The following is a list of lands, which have been removed from agricultural production as the primary land management, above Upper Klamath Lake.
Cattle production peeked in the Upper Basin in 1960, the start of the major decline was when the Tribal Grazing lands at Klamath Marsh were converted to wetlands under the Management of US Fish and Wildlife in 1960.
The most dramatic increase in lands taken out of agricultural production and converted to wetlands has been past 1980.
*TNC Tulana Farms East (ADJ Claim 91) 4,600 Acres (TNC properties 1980s forward)
*TNC Goose Bay Farms (ADJ Claim 81)  - 2,187 Acres
*TNC Sycan Marsh (ADJ Claim 34) -  9,790 Acres
*TNC Brattain Ranch Inc. (ADJ Claim 23) 3,098 Acres
*TNC Sycan Marsh (ADJ Claim 36) 8,255 Acres
*NWR Klamath Marsh 38,766 Acres (1960 major additions in 1989-90)
*NWR Upper Klamath Lake 14,440 Acres (1928)
* Trout Creek Ranch 1,200 Acres
* Private WRP (NRCS) 1,480 Acres
* Wood River Ranch 3,000 Acres (1994)
* Agency Lake Ranch 7,123 Acres
* Runny Y Wetlands 550 Acres
*  Barnes Ranch 2671 Acres (2006)

Total Land changed to wetland from 97,160 Acres
Agricultural was primary water usage (above Klamath Lake)

"*TNC (The Nature Conservancy) land estimates are from the Klamath Adjudication process, TNC may have more irrigated lands that are not in the adjudication. The extent of agricultural use prior to Upper Klamath Lake NWR is unknown, the rest of the lands had extensive agricultural use prior to conversion. Agency Lake Ranch, Wood River Ranch, Lakeside Farms, and Running Y acres come from 2002 FWS draft Sucker BO. Trout Creek Ranch acres comes from the National Archives, not all in wetlands. WRP acres were provided by NRCS." Edward Bartell

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The phosphorus level has increased, not decreased, as a result of these actions. 

Power Point Presentation: Nutrient loading in the Klamath Basin: Agriculture and Natural Sources, Special Report 1023, , by K.A. Rykbost and B.A. Charlton, Oregon State University/Klamath Experiment Station. Posted 1/10/07
Report: Nutrient loading of surface waters in the Upper Klamath Basin: agricultural and natural sources, Rykbost and Charlton.
 

Project irrigators unlikely to be able to start over on water pact; off-Project irrigators in for changes with or without it, by DR. KENNETH A. RYKBOST, Guest Writer, H&N, posted to KBC 3/5/08. "Additional breaching in 2009 is planned that will reconnect 10,000 acres of Agency Lake and Barnes Ranch properties to the lake and add them to the wildlife refuge. While these actions are being promoted as beneficial by increasing lake storage, they will result in evaporation losses exceeding consumption by crops and pastures under agricultural management of these properties and no increase in net available stored water will be realized..."

From Senator Whitsett, posted 2/21/08. "...ranching and farming activities do not, and could not, cause these elevated phosphorous concentrations, and that steps to reduce fertilizer use or cattle grazing would have little or no impact on improving water quality in the Upper Klamath Basin."

***Go here for Barnes Ranch snow job, complete with audio, of American Land Conservancy Rich McIntyre on a tour of Barnes Ranch, promising irrigation water storage and water quality. Once acquired, contrary to the wishes of the community and elected officials, it was converted into a wildlife refuge, with no ag water storage.
 

Excerpts:
2/3/04: National Research Council Chairman Dr William Lewis Jr., University of Colorado, spoke regarding the NRC conclusions on suckers....Lewis explained that the suckers were listed since 1988 because of over harvest.  They stopped fishing in '87 but they did not recover. The lake has gone from 3' range under natural conditions to experiencing 6' deep in current dry years.
With charts and graphs he showed the habitat and water quality, algae and chlorophyll. He said that the committee looked extensively at water levels, and they find 'no hint of a relationship'. He also said that there was no relationship between lower water levels and extreme ph levels. And "the committee cannot support the idea that water levels effect algae growth.' "It can not be achieved by lake levels." '92 was the lowest water year, and they expected it to be the least favorable for fish. 'The lowest water year produced the same amount of larvae as other years."...

He said that fish kill information does not support that fish are dying by changing water level...

He cautioned how much faith we should put into wetlands regarding the suppression of algae...

He added that we should not count on retiring agricultural land land for saving suckers...

Lewis responded that the water is always ph loaded, "the increase doesn't matter if it's always been saturated."...

When asked if it would work to control the significant part of the ph load, Lewis responded that the lake is 140 square miles...that is not feasible to change....

Tribal biologist Larry Dunsmuir felt like lake level management was necessary for emergent vegetation, and Lewis responded that Clear Lake has no emergent vegetation yet production of larvae is not shut off in Clear Lake.

 

 

              Page Updated: Saturday October 10, 2009 03:15 AM  Pacific


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