Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
High price for water
A land asset leasing program in the Klamath Basin was quietly put in effect by the Rangeland Trust (James Root and Kurt Thomas) in 2003 without any consultation with the water users of Klamath County.
Landowners have leased land for farming, fishing, timber production and hunting for many years.
Leasing water has been going on in Texas for several years. In 2003, the board of Rangeland Trust leased the water to its land to the federal government.
The board got the federal government to pay for water from 3,161 acres at a price three times the usual price for irrigated pasture ($300 per acre), plus a similar charge for water their fields did not soak up. Double payment.
They then ran cattle on their pastures drinking the water they had leased. Payment was made to the Rangeland Trust of $948,000. The federal and state government also paid James Root $250,000 more to restore streams near the Wood River. This work was never performed.
James Root's comment was "it's simply innovative, it's not nefarious."
The Rangeland Trust has made no attempt to represent local farmers - only itself.
The Nature Conservancy buys water rights, and lets the land go back to its primitive state.
The Rangeland Trust leases water from its water right. Leasing water keeps the land on the local tax roll, and keeps the land in private hands.
Kirk Rodgers, the Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific regional director, said he knows of no other cases when the government agreed to such a payment formula.
Dell Sparks, water master for the Oregon Water Resources Department, stated: "the government got taken."
People who are advising our Washington politicians are certainly ignorant concerning water and farming. The Long Lake Reservoir may be cheap in the long run.
On Jan. 20 the closed meeting of the Rangeland Trust consisted of tribal members, farmers, three trust members, and Dan Keppen, executive director of the Klamath Water Users Association. It must be stressful for Keppen to sit and listen to schemes that adversely affect the Basin property owners. People are using our tax dollars to carry out their own selfish plan.
The Klamath Tribes by treaty has only water for fishing, and it sold its ownership of the past reservation land, so why does it keep pushing, pushing, pushing and fabricating the truth of its history?
Some 1,310 Klamath Basin property owners signed a petition (taken to Washington) requesting that no part of the old reservation land be returned to the Klamath Tribes.
Some day the tribal people may choose to leave their community and find work. Many of their young people have already done so, the same as the youth in the Klamath Basin.
All of the people in our area need to continue to optimistically work together for solutions for the future.
Dr. Calvin L. Hunt
5605 Highway 97 South
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