Klamath Basin Water Shutoff – Leaving Livestock to Die, Basin to Burn

Klamath Basin Water Shutoff – Leaving Livestock to Die, Basin to Burn (FarmWars, July 1, 2013):

Barb’s Note: Klamath county, Oregon water shutoff – The Klamath Tribes, in collusion with the Federal government and corrupt Oregon officials have started turning off water to farms and ranches. Since the tribe has first water rights, it has claimed those rights and is requiring that all other users with dates later than theirs be shut off. This is everyone else. Read it and weep. Not only will livestock and crops start dying, but this leaves us wide open to rampant wildfires that have the potential to decimate the basin. The following is a communication from Flying T Salers, the best, in my opinion, cattle rancher in the area.

Flying T Salers

This last week has been a busy week. It started last week when we started hearing that people were having their water turned off in the Bly area and were wanting to get the word out as the paper was not saying much. Then Friday our water was shut off, which started drying out our fall pasture.

A few days later we got that impressive storm that did a good job of getting everything wet.  That storm probably saved the ducklings that I have been watching as it kept the ditchs full for an extra 5 days while the young figured out how to fly. Now with the high temperatures in the 90′s everything is starting to dry out fast. I expect to start seeing some fields with dead grass in the Sprague River basin here pretty soon.

If a person reads the paper they may not grasp who is getting turned off when we say that everyone above Klamath lake is getting turned off. Modoc irrigation district got turned off a few days ago. Most of Sprague has already been turned off, any that are still using surface water will soon be. All of Fort Klamath area will be turned off. It is not just irrigators either. I hear that Chiloquin School will have the water turned off that irrigates their grass lawns. I am hearing that even Crater Lake National Park is in the same boat as the rest of us and will be turned off.

This really is a big deal, then to make things even worse the water master has been breaking state law and is not turning the water off by date. Instead he has been picking the areas where the people who have been fighting this the hardest are and has been turning those areas off and leaving areas where the people have been keeping their heads down or supporting the Tribe alone to be turned off last, even if they have the latest dates in the whole system. The end result has been that while on the ranch we have the oldest water right in the whole basin, second to the Tribes, others with 1950s water rights and later will be irrigating for 2-3 weeks longer than we are with our 1864 water rights.

Where do we go from here? Monday is the rally and then Tuesday a judge in town will start deciding if we can get a stay, which would allow us to irrigate while the high Government/Tribal claims are fought in the local court system. If he is quick about it and we get water back on the dry fields soon we may be able to save our fall feed. That said most of the ranchers, ourselves included have either been selling livestock or moving them out of the area. For us, we were able to move them to a different drainage in the county, but still expect to be short on feed especially this fall.  Most people did not have more grass in the county and are shipping the cattle and the revenue and jobs that go with them to other states now.

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