Sen. Jeff Merkley visits Klamath Falls for annual Town Hall.
by Molly O'Brien, Herald and News 6/17/23
"Among his recent efforts,
Merkley noted the
$162 million attained
for the sake of improving water quality in Klamath
Our Country's Best Available Science: Dr William Lewis Jr., University
of Colorado, Chairman of the National Research
Council, "...was asked about
making more wetlands for suckers, and he responded
that there are 17,000 acres of restoration
already... we should not count on retiring
agricultural land land for saving suckers...When
asked if it would work to control the significant
part of the ph load, Lewis responded that the lake
is 140 square miles...that is not feasible to
Klamath County residents turned out in force for a chance to
talk to and hear from a U.S. senator this week.
On Friday, June 16, U.S. Sen. Jeff
Merkley (D-Ore.) hosted his annual Town Hall for Klamath
County, held at Oregon Tech. Every year, Merkley visits all
36 counties in Oregon.
Applauded for his commitment to rural
communities like those in Klamath Basin, Merkley welcomed
the input of his constituents, responding to pressing
concerns presented by residents.
During a media conference prior to the
Town Hall, Merkley told the Herald & News about some of the
items at the top of his list for Klamath County and rural
The senator also remarked upon the
upcoming change over from the F-15 to the F-35 fighter jets
for Kingsley Airbase, pointing out the positive economic
impacts of the switch.
Among his recent efforts, Merkley
noted the $162 million attained for the sake of improving
water quality in Klamath County lakes.
“If the lake is in better shape, it
makes it easier to share water for irrigation,” Merkley
said. “The amount of money we’re investing in the Koptu and
C’waam fish. If they’re better off, we can do a lot more.”
Merkley said the decreased
availability of water is an unfortunate but unavoidable
“The reality is that this year’s been
a good year — but they’re not all good years,” he said. “I’m
just going to keep trying to get as much financial support
for the basin as possible as we adjust to the new reality of
less rainfall and ss snowpack on average.”
During the Town Hall, community
members also brought up the topic of the changing climate.
Wendy Williams wanted to know if
President Joe Biden had any intention of declaring climate
change a national emergency.
Merkley assured Williams he is putting
the pressure on the Biden campaign to take the issue
seriously and act immediately.
Carl Andrews asked about the
proposition to build a new solar panel facility 25 miles
east of Klamath Falls.
“What do you think about that, and why
is it important in Klamath County?” Andrews asked.
“We are seeing a huge impact of carbon
accumulating in the atmosphere,” Merkley said. “It’s
produced our fire season. It’s produced more drought, less
snowpack, smaller warmer trout and salmon streams.”
Merkley said the rate of carbon
introduced into the atmosphere has more than tripled in the
past 30 years.
“I’d like to say we’ve turned the
corner, but we haven’t,” Merkley said. “We’re being hit in
forestry, farming and fishing, the three pillars of rural
economy. We have to pivot fast from carbon based to
The topic of Supreme Court
accountability also made its way to the floor, eliciting
strong disapproval from the senator.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
made recent headlines when ProPublica unveiled secret luxury
trips gifted to him by billionaire real estate developer
Harlan Crow for the past 20 years.
“In a republic, we depend on the
integrity of the ballot box,” Merkley said. “But the
structure is rigged for the powerful. It supports partisan
warfare, and it supports paralysis. We have got to reform
When students from Oregon Tech were
invited to ask the senator questions some asked about
efforts to increase federal funding for post-secondary
Merkley acknowledged the financial
struggle to afford higher education felt by many families
across the country.
“Students in other countries like
Germany don’t have to worry about taking on $80,000 in
debt,” Merkley said. “I’ve heard from parents who aren’t
sure they should encourage their children to go to college.
But I believe that the success of nations around the world
in this century is going to depend on our investment in
infrastructure and education,” Merkley said.
Merkley also congratulated Klamath
Community College for creating a commercial drivers
licensing program, funded by a federal grant of $200,000.
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