Kimberly DeVall, public affairs officer for Klamath National Forest sent out disappointing information on Friday. (Remember, it isn’t her fault!) As the Forest Service employees measured the snowpack around Scott Valley, they found an “extreme plunge” in the snowpack levels. Warm weather and lack of additional snowfall along with high-elevation rain storms drastically affected the snow that was up at the 5,000 to 6,000 foot levels.DeVall said that the early-May survey showed the snowpack is at 21 percent of the historic average and the water equivalent is at 18 percent. This was found at all the survey areas from Scott Mt., to the Boulders and on Salmon Mt. behind Etna. So this is bad news.
Then on May 10, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an expanded “drought emergency proclamation” for 41 of the 58 California counties, citing above-average temperatures and dry conditions for April and May. I see where the state government is now asking California residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 10 percent. Personally, I think urbanites are going to be hit hard on water reduction – sooner than later.
Klamath farmers hit even harder
After the federal Bureau of Reclamation announced, in April, there would be a huge reduction of legally-stored water available for the Klamath Project farmers, on May 12, 2021, Reclamation sent a letter to the many irrigation districts stating the A canal would not supply any water from Upper Klamath Lake to the project. This is the same A canal that did not receive any water back in 2001 and is the life-blood to the intricate irrigation infrastructure.
Boy, this is another huge blow to the 1,200 farmers and the wildlife refuges.
Klamath Basin farmer, Rodney Cheyne, wrote this response on his Facebook page: “You know in America there are programs to end hunger. Especially for children, school lunch programs so kids don’t go hungry during school day. Summer lunch programs so kids can get at least one meal a day. Food banks to help the needy and hungry who can’t afford food. My question now is how in the hell is the rest of America and other countries going to feed themselves let alone the needy? When you shut the water off to the farmers who put that stored water to beneficial use to do what? You guessed it – grow crops that help feed you, me, the needy, the kids, the tribes that claim the salmon and suckers are their staple in their diet.
“How are people so far removed from reality? No water, no farmer, no jobs, no crops, no processing, no trucking, etc, all resulting in a raw food shortage!”
Rodney then pointedly suggested that all the people that do not support agriculture should stop eating!
He finished: “The American farmer is the most efficient effective producer on the planet earth. Stop biting the hand that feeds! And stop bitching with your mouth full!”
Boy, do I agree with Rodney.
In last week’s column, I told you about our Siskiyou County supervisors coordinating with Modoc and Klamath Counties to put pressure on the federal government and Biden administration regarding this terrible situation. California District 1 Congressman, Doug LaMalfa, is also putting pressure on the powers that be. For years, he has worked to implement an effective water management plan for the Klamath Basin to no avail.
LaMalfa said on Friday that the Reclamation’s newest decree was a “shocking decision to forbid delivery of Klamath Project water to our water-starved farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin and it underscores the almost total failure of the existing water management plan.”
He added that the farmers and ranchers have paid and continue to pay for the canal system and dams that store water and that court decisions have repeatedly recognized the stored project water in the lake belongs to the farmers.
“Reclamation will again seize what they do not own, without compensation, to comply with questionable Endangered Species Act requirements.” He finished by saying that he will be working with every possible partner to bring relief to the basin.
Unfortunately, it looks like there will be added long-lasting devastation from this government-made drought! Such a tragedy.
Last Tuesday, my grandson, Bryce Bowen, and granddaughter, Lexie Bowen, helped me after school in the garden. We dug up the soil and added manure for the six tomato plants, cantaloupe and giant pumpkin seeds. The soil is very dry, so I added water several times to get it to soak-in. Then we planted the Early Girl tomatoes and then the seeds and, yep, we were worn-out. It was warm last week! I sure do appreciate their help. On Friday morning, I planted cucumber and zucchini seeds. And that is it for vegetable planting.
The garlic are looking better. A month ago, I gave them a shot of sulfate- of-potash and then two weeks later a good granule fertilizer; and I have been irrigating them every other day. Throughout April, several of their long leaves tended to look dry, but they are finally looking happier. There about 20 plants and they should be ready for harvest in late June.
Looks like it will be cooling off today (Wednesday) for a few days. Yep, it could do more than just frost, but may freeze, too. So, I have cardboard boxes ready to cover the tomato plants for several nights for protection. This is why I try not to plant too early in May, cuz there is always this threat. The date I planted the vegetable seeds last year was May 23, so I did plant earlier this year. Hope I won’t be sorry.
May peace and calm be with you this week. Smile – just cuz it makes you feel better!
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 can be found at: lizwriteslife.blogspot.com. Call her at 530-467-3515.