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

Wildlife vs. potatoes

Re "Water turns to bad blood," July 6: Conservationists, fishermen and Native American tribes support restoring marsh on 22,000 commercially farmed acres (known as "the leaselands") on Tule Lake and Lower Klamath national wildlife refuges to recover critical waterfowl habitat and help correct the destructive water imbalance in the Klamath Basin. But the article was mistaken that the proposal would require a purchase of the lands.The public already owns these lands. Returning them to marsh would only require changing government policy to recognize that our national wildlife refuges are for protecting wildlife not raising potatoes.

A leaselands solution would help the Klamath's fish and wildlife by reducing summertime irrigation water demand while increasing natural water storage. It would also assist the local agricultural economy by shifting roughly $1.9 million in seasonal farmland rental business from federal government coffers to local private landowners, and reducing or eliminating the potentially astronomical costs of annually pumping water from the leaselands area after the Klamath irrigators' exclusive $10 million electricity subsidy expires in 2006.

 

- Jim McCarthy, Ashland, Ore.
Policy Analyst, Oregon Natural Resources Council

 



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