Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, March 11, 2022, Page 5, Image 5

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    Friday, March 11, 2022 5
Hearing focuses on balancing
water needs in Klamath Basin
Capital Press
— Federal offi cials say
they are determined to fi nd
“long-term, durable” solu-
tions to resolve the decades-
old water crisis in the Klam-
ath Basin, balancing diverse
priorities to sustain healthy
The House Subcommit-
tee on Water, Oceans and
Wildlife held a virtual hear-
ing March 8 to discuss the
basin, including testimony
from farmers, tribal mem-
bers and local government
leaders recounting how years
of drought and miscues are
now threatening local crops,
salmon and domestic wells.
Rep. Jared Huff man,
D-Calif., chaired the meeting
along with Rep. Cliff Bentz,
R-Ore. Together, their dis-
tricts span the entire basin
straddling both states.
“It is time to fi nd a path
forward that breaks the sta-
tus quo of litigation, risk and
uncertainty over water that
plagues all sides year after
year,” Huff man said.
The hearing came as the
Klamath Basin faces another
year of extreme drought.
One day earlier, Oregon
Gov. Kate Brown declared
a drought emergency for
Klamath County.
As of March 1, the Klam-
ath Basin had received just
69% of normal snowpack
and 75% of normal precipi-
tation for the 30-year period
from 1991 to 2020, accord-
ing to the USDA Natural
Resources Conservation Ser-
vice. Streamfl ows were pre-
George Plaven/Capital Press File
A portion of the 60-mile Lost River, which feeds Tule
Lake, was dry last summer because of drought in the
Klamath Basin.
dicted to be 43% to 93% of
normal from March through
Last year, no water was
allocated from Upper Klam-
ath Lake for irrigators in the
Klamath Project for the fi rst
time in more than a century as
water managers struggled to
maintain minimum lake lev-
els for C’waam and Koptu,
two species of endangered
native sucker fi sh.
That also meant no addi-
tional water was available to
send as “fl ushing fl ows” for
juvenile coho salmon down-
stream, leaving them vulner-
able to a fi sh-killing para-
site known as C. shasta that
thrives in warmer water.
“The drought is of pro-
portions, length and dura-
tion that I don’t think anyone
was aware of or feared when
many of the laws we’re now
dealing with were crafted,”
Bentz said. “Last year was
bad. This year, apparently,
sadly, is going to be perhaps
Amy Cordalis, coun-
sel for the Yurok Tribe in
Northern California, said just
1-3% of the Klamath Riv-
er’s iconic and once-abundant
salmon runs remain, thanks
to unsustainable water usage
in the basin that has brought
the aquatic ecosystem to its
“If these fl ows were
reduced any further, the
Klamath River would be
under threat of ecological col-
lapse,” she said. “We must ask
ourselves what is sustainable,
and let go of what no longer
serves us. ... People in the
basin cannot thrive until the
ecosystem is restored.”
Joe Davis, chairman of the
Hoopa Valley Tribe, said pro-
tecting fi sh is critical to the
tribe’s way of life.
“To have a meaningful
opportunity to heal the Klam-
ath Basin, numerous federal
agencies need to provide not
only funding but leadership in
consultation with tribal gov-
ernments to plan comprehen-
sive and basin-wide manage-
ment,” Davis stated in his
written testimony.
Agriculture is similarly
Washington lawmakers nix forced
buff ers, embrace conservation
Capital Press
OLYMPIA — Washing-
ton legislators, who rejected
mandatory riparian buff ers,
are moving to signifi cantly
increase spending on volun-
tary conservation programs.
While House and Sen-
ate budget proposals diff er in
details, both chambers sup-
port new funding for incen-
tive-based programs that rely
on cooperative farmers to
plant and maintain strips of
vegetation along rivers and
Washington State Dairy
Federation policy direc-
tor Jay Gordon on Monday
said opposition to the com-
pulsory buff er bill proposed
by Gov. Jay Inslee increased
interest in funding voluntary
“When life hands you a
lemon, make lemonade. The
buff er bill was a lemon,”
Gordon said. “Kudos to the
legislators who said, ‘OK, if
that’s not the way to do, what
Inslee’s bill threatened
landowners with $10,000-a-
day fi nes for not maintaining
riparian buff ers. Some tribal
offi cials and environmental
groups said voluntary con-
servation was not enough to
help salmon.
Farmers led the opposi-
tion, arguing that the manda-
tory buff ers would be unnec-
essarily wide — up to 250
feet — and fi nancially dev-
astating. Inslee blamed his
proposal’s failure to indiff er-
ence toward salmon, further
aggravating farm groups.
During the debate over
mandatory buff ers, farm
groups told legislators that
voluntary conservation is
In preliminary budget
proposals, lawmakers have
increased support for those
programs. Meanwhile, the
state will continue to study
whether the programs work
and whether they should
be stiff ened by rules and
“I think the Legislature is
expressing their interest in
incentive programs, to work
with landowners,” Washing-
ton State Conservation Com-
mission policy director Ron
Shultz said Monday. “I don’t
think it’s to the exclusion of
The dairy federation,
Washington Farm Bureau
and The Nature Conser-
vancy sent a joint email to
legislators last week asking
them to increase spending
on existing programs and
fund new eff orts.
“Green corridors around
streams and rivers are import-
ant to habitat health, the
life within those waters and
communities that depend on
salmon,” the groups wrote.
suff ering deep cuts with-
out water to grow crops and
Tricia Hill, a fi fth-gen-
eration potato farmer based
in Malin, Ore., said the agri-
cultural community feels tar-
geted by policies that culmi-
nated in last year’s complete
shutdown of the A Canal
within the Klamath Project —
serving 175,000 acres of irri-
gated farmland.
Without water fl owing
through the Klamath Project,
Hill said, the Lower Klam-
ath and Tule Lake national
wildlife refuges also went
dry, aff ecting migratory birds
along the Pacifi c Flyway. Irri-
gators instead relied on lim-
ited groundwater supplies,
which were both costly to
pump and caused hundreds of
domestic wells to run dry.
“My community and
the environment is being
destroyed to no gain for any-
one,” Hill said.
Though Hill said farmers
were appreciative of $30 mil-
lion in drought aid from the
Bureau of Reclamation and
USDA, “the simple truth is
we need water to survive.”
“If this need is not satis-
fi ed, we will soon cease to
exist,” she said.
Farmer charged in
kickback scheme
Capital Press
have charged an Ore-
gon grass seed farmer
and wholesaler with wire
fraud for allegedly paying
kickbacks to a seed com-
pany representative.
The U.S. Department
of Justice claims that Greg
McCarthy, the owner of
Ground Zero Seeds in
Yamhill, Ore., paid more
than $190,000 in kick-
backs to his longtime
friend, Richard Dunham,
who oversaw warehous-
ing and order fulfi llment
for Jacklin Seed, based in
Liberty Lake, Wash.
McCarthy faces up to
20 years in federal prison,
three years probation and
a $380,000 fi ne if con-
victed of conspiracy to
commit wire fraud, a fel-
ony. He’s scheduled to be
arraigned by a U.S. mag-
istrate judge on March 15.
Capital Press was
unable to reach him for
According to the indict-
ment, McCarthy was paid
an extra 2 cents per pound
for grass seed and kicked
that money back to Dun-
ham in exchange for
being chosen as a supplier
for Jacklin Seed between
2015 and 2019.
“As a result of his posi-
tion, Dunham could cause
Jacklin to purchase grass
seed from certain growers
in Oregon rather than oth-
ers,” the indictment said,
with the alleged kickback
scheme defrauding Jack-
lin Seed and its previous
owner, the J.R. Simplot
to provide consulting
and brokering services
through a corporate entity
that actually served to
“conceal his receipt of
kickbacks,” which he
received from McCarthy
as well as “other Jacklin
suppliers,” the indictment
McCarthy and Dun-
ham discussed the scheme
in emails in which they
referred to the kickbacks
as “shoes” or as contribu-
tions to a “shoe fund,” the
indictment said.
The indictment marks
the third criminal case
brought by the federal
government related to
fraud by employees of
Jacklin Seed.
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