HERMISTON DELIVERS WATERMELONS, GOODWILL Page 10 Capital Press The West s Weekly FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2015 VOLUME 88, NUMBER 32 WWW.CAPITALPRESS.COM $2.00 Researchers use wild potatoes to develop better hybrids Large cultivated potatoes on the left are compared with smaller, wild potatoes on the right. Researchers collect native varieties to broaden gene pool for future hybrids By JOHN O’CONNELL Capital Press J ohn Bamberg has explored one of the nation’s most important American Indi- an archaeological sites, but instead of seeking clues to a past civilization, he was searching for solutions to many of the challenges facing the potato in- dustry. Bamberg, a proj- ect leader at the USDA Potato Intro- duction Station in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., has discovered that Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado is not only home to cliff-dwelling Ancestral Pueblos, but also to the nation’s most diverse population of a wild potato species. Bamberg’s facility maintains seed and tissue cultures of wild potato populations from around the world. To the researchers and breeders who request material from him, wild spuds represent a vast pool of genes that may allow them to transfer desirable traits such as disease and pest resistance to new potato varieties they devel- op. Bamberg speculates potatoes were a staple of the diet of Mesa Verde’s ancient inhabitants. The potatoes were likely obtained via a trade route extending into Central and South America, where they originated. “There’s an absolutely gigantic population (of potatoes) there,” Bamberg said. At Mesa Verde INTO THE WILD Turn to WILD, Page 12 491 CANYONS OF THE ANCIENTS NAT’L MON. Utah Colorado COLO. McPhee Res. 145 Area in detail Dolores Mesa Verde 184 Park National SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST Cortez Mancos 550 160 Durango 162 N 10 miles Ute Mountain Tribe 160 Ariz. 491 Colorado New Mexico 160 Southern Ute IndianTribe 550 Alan Kenaga/Capital Press Photos courtesy of John Bamberg: John Bamberg is the project leader at the Potato Introduction Station in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., which houses the U.S. collec- tion of wild potato material from through- out the world. “There are species you can look at and say, ‘Oh, that’s a potato.’ Others look very strange, with leaves almost like marigolds or African violets.” John Bamberg, project leader at the USDA Potato Introduction Station in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Army Corps memos disparage EPA over WOTUS By CAROL RYAN DUMAS Capital Press Internal memos from an Army Corps of Engineers top ofﬁ cial to the Environmental Protection Agency contend the draft ﬁ nal rule deﬁ ning waters of the Unit- ed States is indefensible in court, reduces the government’s jurisdic- tion over certain waters now cov- ered by the Clean Water Act, and will require the Corps to conduct an environmental impact state- ment before it can be implement- ed. The memos, written before the rule’s release by Maj. Gen. John Peabody, deputy commanding general for civil and emergency operations, charge that the EPA disregarded the Corps’ concerns. The memos were put on the re- cord by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. of the House Oversight and Gov- ernment Reform Committee. Peabody’s April 27 memo to Jo-Ellen Darby, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, states: “As we have discussed throughout the rulemaking process for WO- TUS over the last several months, the Corps of Engineers has serious concerns about certain aspects of the draft ﬁ nal rule.” The memo contends that a re- view of the draft ﬁ nal rule by the Corps’ legal and regulatory staff found the rule “continues to de- part signiﬁ cantly from the version provided for public comment, and that the Corps’ recommendations related to our most serious con- cerns have gone unaddressed. “The rule’s contradictions with legal principles generate multiple legal and technical consequenc- es that, in the view of the Corps, would be fatal to the rule in its current form.” The Corps’ legal analysis found that if “serious ﬂ aws” were not corrected, the rule would be “legally vulnerable, difﬁ cult to defend in court, difﬁ cult for the Corps to explain or justify, and challenging for the Corps to im- plement.” It further found the ﬁ nal rule abandoned “sound principles of science” in the proposed draft and “introduced indefensible provi- sions into the rule.” Turn to WOTUS, Page 12 Earlier drought planning needed, ag director says By DAN WHEAT Capital Press EAST WENATCHEE, Wash. — State agencies, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and major irrigation districts should start planning for drought next year as soon as this year’s irrigation season is over, the new director of the state Department of Agricul- ture says. Water will be a big issue and the state needs to be better prepared, Agriculture Director Derek Sandison told about 100 members of the Chelan-Doug- las Farm Bureau at their annu- al barbecue on Aug. 4. “In 2014, we came pretty close to drought but we caught up on snowpack late in the Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology Ofﬁ ce of Columbia River Director Derek Sandison stands on Pinto Dam in Grant County with Brook Lake in the background in this photo from July 2014 provided by the Washington Department of Ecology. Sandison, who has an extensive background in water issues, has been appointed state agriculture director. season. We dodged a bullet,” Sandison said. Last winter, everyone kept thinking there would be an- other “March Miracle,” but there wasn’t, he said. The rain didn’t turn into snow and “it caught us ﬂ at-footed in water leasing,” said Sandison, who was director of the state De- partment of Ecology’s Ofﬁ ce of the Columbia River at the time. Growers in the Roza Irri- gation District of the Yakima Valley had made planting deci- sions before Ecology approved leasing, he said. Then there were delays in appropriations of drought response funding, he said. With the high probability of another warm, dry winter, ev- eryone needs to be better pre- pared, Sandison said. Agencies need to work to improve water storage and Ecology, Agricul- ture, Reclamation and major irrigation districts should start talking about next year soon, he said. “The message for the long run is we can’t take our eye off the ball,” he said. U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., also mentioned wa- ter, forest management to pre- vent forest ﬁ res, food safety and other issues in brief re- marks. He said he’s still opti- mistic about immigration re- form and that he always seeks advice from the Farm Bureau. Newhouse, a Sunnyside grower, is a former director of the state Department of Agri- culture and a former state leg- islator. He and his father were both county Farm Bureau presidents.