The family farms and ranches in the Klamath Project face unimaginable hardship. This year may be the worst ever for Klamath Project producers. They are saddled with a severe lack of irrigation water, cruel uncertainty, and COVID-19 impacts on themselves, the workforce and markets. They are chastised and regulated based on frightening misunderstandings of who they are and what they do. Rural producers do not draw salaries. They work extremely hard to produce food, while stewarding land, water, and wildlife.
Today is the 115th anniversary of the authorization of the Klamath Project under the National Reclamation Act, which was adopted to promote western settlement and feed a hungry nation and world. The Project incorporated and borrowed from the plans of visionaries in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and went on to support hardy settlers and homesteaders who built communities that carry on a noble way of life.
The reclamation and agricultural development of the Project did not cause rivers to dry up. Use of water on fertile farm ground today is no greater than it was a thousand years ago when there were vast open lakes and marsh vegetation on the now-productive land. This year, Klamath Project storage will subsidize Klamath River flows by over 150,000 acre-feet.
The Klamath Project is known world-wide for the quality of its ag products. This year, farm families and the jobs, businesses, and culture that depend on agriculture will be struck a severe blow. And the wildlife that depends on our land our water will go missing.
Basin communities are tough. We welcome renewed attention from decision-makers committed to solve problems rationally and relieve the burdens on rural communities.
As bad and unfair as the current situation is, we pause, look back and look forward. We are proud to be part of the Klamath Project heritage, and remain committed to reclaiming our strong agricultural tradition.