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Bob Gasser: Involved in irrigation politics again
by Steve Kadel, Herald and News 3/14/08



Bob Gasser supplies fertilizer to irrigators and is on the board of directors for the Klamath Water Users Association.

   Bob Gasser isn’t an irrigator, but he suffered along with farmers and ranchers when the water was turned off in 2001. 

   The lifelong Klamath Basin resident and his brother-inlaw Chris Moudry own Basin Fertilizer and Chemicals, and 75 percent of their customers were on-Project irrigators whose fields suddenly didn’t need fertilizing. 

   “We hauled water to cattle troughs, we painted the swimming pool in Malin, we kept busy every way we could,” Gasser says. He was one of the Bucket Brigade organizers, and became accustomed to speaking in front of television news crews. Meanwhile, Gasser’s company kept its employees on the payroll and, like most irrigators, weathered the storm. 

   “What’s kept me here is I love what I do,” Gasser says, adding that he was grateful to hit the fields again after the water crisis ended. 

   At the same time, Gasser is in the middle of the politics of irrigation once again. He is a member of the board of directors for the Klamath Water Users Association, which represented more than a dozen irrigation and improvement districts during the past two years of Klamath water settlement talks. 

   He acknowledges that some Upper Basin irrigators aren’t happy with the settlement plan, which calls on them to idle 30,000 acre-feet of water. Gasser says they’ve made concessions before, taking about 90,000 acres out of production — the Barnes, Wood and Agency ranches along with other land — and weren’t rewarded with stable river flows and lake levels. 

   “We sold out our neighbors,” Gasser says. “That land should still be in production. I understand why the Upper Basin is upset.”
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