Liz Writes Life, by Liz Bowen, weekly column published in
Siskiyou Daily News June 17, 2020
The saga of the government taking away legal water right
allocations to 1,200 farmers in the government-encouraged
Klamath Project continues. I attended many meetings in 2001 and
reported (for a Fort Jones newspaper) on the entire shut-off of
water to Klamath Project farmers and saw first-hand the
fraudulent government scientific information that was used to
justify the taking of irrigation water. It was excruciatingly
sad, humiliating and down-right wrong.
But, believe it or not, this year is even worse because the
Klamath Project farmers were told by federal agencies they would
receive at least some water – but less than half their legal
amount. Most farmers obtain loans to plant their crops, so they
plan accordingly. Now, their crops are in the ground and
growing. But, last month, federal agencies said the project’s
water allotments would be reduced – again – meaning no water for
July, August and September.
A rally called “Shut down and Fed Up” was held on May 29, 2020
with more than 2,000 people showing-up with tractors, log
trucks, hay trucks, pick-ups and cars rolling from Merrill, OR.
into Klamath Falls, OR. and down through the basin to Midland,
OR. It was over 20 miles long.
In 2001, well-over 15,000 supporters showed-up to the Bucket
Brigade Rally held on May 7th. I, and many Siskiyou Co.
agriculturists, attended. It was quite the peaceful rally.
The fight continues to be about water needed for the sucker fish
that are listed with the Endangered Species Act. Drought adds to
the lack of water. This is where the government’s science has
caused this huge problem. It has been proven the modeling and
science to improve the suckers’ numbers is wrong, yet the
federal bureaucrats turn a blind eye.
Last Thursday, June 11, 2020, a huge pulse of water was released
from the Upper Klamath Lake down the Klamath River with the
expectation of flushing out a parasite that can harm salmon –
not the suckers. This pulse was so large that it caused
flooding. The pulse was ramped-up for at least five days taking
the legally-stored water, which is the legal water-right to the
Klamath Project farmers. Such a waste! So this is creating
another federal government-made drought, which will destroy food
and farmers. Why?
Our Dist. 1 Congressman, Doug LaMalfa, has been seriously
engaged with other Oregon and California elected-officials,
including our Siskiyou Co. supervisors, to pressure the federal
bureaucrats and get the legal water back to the farmers. It is a
mountainous job. LaMalfa drove a tractor in the May 29th rally.
He and his staff have been attending meetings and explaining the
dire situation with U.S. President Donald Trump’s
Of the situation, LaMalfa said: “With the current uncertainly to
our nation’s food supply chain because of COVID-19, Klamath
Basin farmers play a key role in producing for their market
share of our nation’s food supply. They’ve worked for
generations to supply this country with their unique crops. The
federal government has, in this last-minute water grab, created
its own unnecessary disaster that threatens the entire Klamath
Basin’s 2020 crop year – its prosperity and way of life – only
compounding the ability to keep healthy food on our nation’s
supermarket shelves. Farmers typically contend with the
possibility of poor weather and crop prices in a given crop
years, but this year, atrocious forecasting and a mind-boggling
eleventh-hour water cut by federal bureaucrats have caused
potential for the greatest calamity the Basin has ever seen.”
The project farmers cultivate 210,000 acres of wheat, barley,
alfalfa, potatoes, onions, horseradish, sugar beets and other
crops. Hypocrisy and this destruction to farmers does not bode
well for the health and well-being of the United States’ people.
Next week, I will explain some history of this government-made
farming area, which is, ironically, under-siege by that same
Liz Bowen began writing ranch and farm
news, published in newspapers, in 1976. She is a native of
Siskiyou County and lives near Callahan. Columns from the past
year can be found at: lizwriteslife.blogspot.com. Call
her at 530-467-3515.
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