Audubon stoops in attack on Basin agriculture

July 11, 2003

By Don Mausshardt

Guest columnist - Herald and News

Klamath Falls, Oregon

To submit a Letter to the Editor:

In reading the Herald and News for the past several weeks, the primary concern of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation appears to be focused on curtailing water to Klamath Reclamation Project water users.

This really makes little sense to me as a taxpayer.

This is an example of poor decisions that create impacts and probable devastation upon multiple sectors including wildlife, agriculture and the economy of the Basin.

This usually occurs when government bureaucrats make decisions based upon requirements that allow no consideration or rational base.

It is evident that special interests are choosing to create a hostile situation that can and will ultimately hurt many farm families.

The Audubon magazine in March 2003 published an article that told the nation "the farmers were wasting so much water that they were flooding the highways and disrupting traffic."

The article went on to allege that the farmers and the operation of the Klamath Reclamation Project pollute the Klamath River.

It further gave no recognition that it was the farmers who tried to protect the head gates, but the article implies that it was the farmers that attempted to sabotage the head gates.

What is really disturbing is that the facts used were [not only] wrong and the arguments presented have no scientific basis in the article, but [also] the author is attempting to lead the nation to the conclusion that agriculture in the Klamath Basin is responsible for all the woes of the entire Klamath River system.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is a form of biased reporting that makes the New York Times reporter who was fired for faking a report look really good.

It looks now as though the Audubon Society has stooped to the same level.

Coupling this article with the current posture of the Bureau of Reclamation creates concern and truly makes one wonder who is really managing the entire system.

Let's explore who manages the diversions of water out of the Klamath Basin.

I, for one, would like to know who is responsible for the diversion from Fourmile Lake to the Rogue Basin.

Again, I would also ask about the diversion of the Trinity River.

Who is responsible for that operation -- and why aren't they part of the solution to putting water back into the Klamath Basin?

A simple parallel to this issue is when faced with tight times -- be it water, cash, or any thing else -- we cut back.

In business, when cash gets short, we have to cut certain nonessential items.

The same holds true for all of us -- whether it means not going to a movie or eating out -- the concept is quite simple.

Why, in looking at our water situation, are we not attempting to recover the water that we have given away for export out of this basin?

We need to face reality here and stop exporting water until we understand all of the demands.

What becomes really interesting is the Audubon article noted that agriculture uses about 60,000 acre-feet of Klamath River water in the Upper Basin.

That happens to be about the same amount exported to the Rogue Valley.

I would ask why no one is doing anything to recover the water that is currently exported, rather than ask the farmers to further bear the burden for the entire Basin?