Thursday, April 22, 2004

For Immediate Release

Walden Announces $7.3 Million in Conservation Funding for the Klamath Basin

Bush Administration funding part of $50 million for Klamath Basin backed by Walden in 2002 Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will release $7.3 million in conservation funding to assist farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin of southern Oregon and northern California. The funding represents a portion of the $50 million fund for the Klamath Basin made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill. Today’s release of funding follows an earlier release of $11.7 million out of the EQIP program that was delivered in January 2004.

"Given the degree to which federal policies have been responsible for much of the Klamath Basin water crisis, it’s fitting that the federal government should assist in implementing local conservation projects that will help resolve the crisis in the long-term," said Walden. "By channeling funds directly to the producers on the ground who know best how to improve water quality and water quantity, the EQIP program is playing a critical role in sustaining agriculture in the Basin and supporting the important goal of species protection. President Bush’s steadfast dedication to the Klamath Basin has been critical to this progress. I’m grateful for the leadership President Bush, Secretary Veneman and other officials within the Administration continue to provide for all parties in the Klamath Basin."

Eligible producers will receive financial and technical assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve the efficiency of irrigation systems and implement additional projects designed to improve ground and surface water conservation. Conservation practices funded under the EQIP program will result in net savings in groundwater or surface water resources, which will benefit farmers, fish and waterfowl.

Commenting on today’s funding announcement, USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman highlighted the practical value of investing in Klamath Basin conservation projects.

"USDA is working to assist farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin," Veneman said. "The additional funds will help more producers accelerate implementation of practical, common sense conservation practices on the ground."

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Resources. Walden was recently named Chairman of the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health.