Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, August 05, 2022, Page 2, Image 2

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Friday, August 5, 2022
People & Places
Washington irrigation district leader
promotes alternative to water wars
Capital Press
Established 1928
Capital Press Managers
Joe Beach ..................... Editor & Publisher
Anne Long ................. Advertising Director
— Kittitas Reclamation Dis-
trict manager Urban Eber-
hart promotes the Yakima
River Basin water plan like
a man who’s seen the futility
of water wars.
The basin covers 6,000
square miles in south-cen-
tral Washington and in one
year yields crops worth $4.5
billion. The basin has 48 fish
species, including two that
are federally protected.
Once upon a time, Eber-
hart recalls, seasoned adver-
saries, equally matched,
fought like crazy over water.
Sides lawyered up and
stopped talking. “The legal
folks were always afraid
we might say something
wrong,” he said.
Nevertheless, people did
start talking in a “collabo-
rative process,” the opposite
of fighting words.
From the talks sprang a
30-year, $4 billion plan sup-
ported by irrigation districts,
the Yakama Nation, the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation and
the Washington Department
of Ecology.
The plan has several ele-
ments: conserving and stor-
ing water, removing fish bar-
riers and restoring habitat,
improving irrigation equip-
ment and operations, and
water banking.
The timeline and dol-
lar estimates are rough.
The plan has been under-
way for more than a decade
and has decades to go and
depends on public funding,
primarily from the federal
At the request of state leg-
islators, Washington State
University in 2014 analyzed
the costs and benefits of each
project. As insurance against
drought, the irrigation proj-
ects didn’t pencil out, the
report concluded.
The plan’s backers, includ-
Carl Sampson .................. Managing Editor
Samantha Stinnett .....Circulation Manager
Entire contents copyright © 2022
EO Media Group
dba Capital Press
Urban Eberhart
Age: 61
Position: Kittitas Recla-
mation District manager
since 2015; reclamation
district board member
1986 to 2015; farmer and
Don Jenkins/Capital Press
Education: Attended
Central Washington
Kittitas Reclamation District manager Urban Eberhart beside a newly lined irrigation
canal in Central Washington. Lining canals will conserve water, an element of the Ya-
kima Basin Integrated Plan.
ing Ecology, said the plan
can’t be picked apart that way.
Each element depends on the
other. If one is short-changed,
the enterprise collapses.
It should be a model for
others, says Eberhart.
“What we are doing in this
basin can be, and I predict
will be, replicated in other
parts of the United States
and arguably the world,” he
said in a 2020 TED Talk in
Eberhart, 61, was a high
schooler growing up on the
family farm during the severe
1977 drought that intensified
the basin’s battle over water.
His father, Dee Eberhart,
who died this year at the age
of 97, was an orchardist and
a geography professor at
Central Washington Univer-
sity. He testified in Olympia
that year on the basin’s water
“My introduction to the
legislative process was watch-
ing my dad,” Eberhart said.
To pre-empt a federal law-
suit over tribal water rights,
the Washington Department
of Ecology filed for adjudica-
tion in Yakima County Supe-
rior Court in 1977. Adjudica-
tion prioritizes water rights.
Ecology’s director said
adjudication might go on for
seven to 10 years. Last year,
the state Supreme Court ruled
on a few final disputes, com-
pleting adjudication in 44
Long before then, it was
apparent adjudication wasn’t
going to keep the basin from
suffering water shortages,
especially if snowpacks are
smaller and melt earlier, Eber-
hart said.
“Adjudication just tells
you what you have. It doesn’t
solve emerging problems in a
rapidly changing climate,” he
With the Yakima adjudi-
cation done, Ecology plans to
adjudicate water rights in the
Nooksack Basin in northwest
Adjudication will set water
rights for the Lummi Nation
and Nooksack Indian Tribe,
according to Ecology. Begin-
ning next year, the department
will take water users to court.
Lawmakers granted Ecol-
ogy’s request for money to
begin adjudication. They
also gave Whatcom County
money to hire ex-Ecology
directors Jay Manning and
Maia Bellon to lead separate,
collaborative talks.
“The model that we’re pro-
posing to copy is the Yakima
Basin Integrated Plan,” Man-
ning said last spring. “It is
balanced and is designed to
achieve the interests of all in
the basin.
“We think it’s entirely rep-
licable here in the Nooksack
Basin,” he said.
The effort floundered, or
at least stalled for this year,
because tribes objected to
water-users meeting until
Ecology files for adjudication.
Eberhart said he doesn’t
have a comment on adjudi-
cation in the Nooksack, other
than he endorses what Man-
ning and Bellon are trying to
“I do support them in their
attempt to at least see if it’s
possible,” he said.
The Kittitas Reclamation
District serves irrigators in the
Upper Yakima River Basin.
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The district has a goal of con-
serving 100,118 acre-feet
through projects that will cost
a total of $387 million. “I’m
very confident it is possible in
the reasonable future,” Eber-
hart said.
So far, the district has con-
served 6,843 acre-feet. Cot-
tonwood trees that flourished
beside earthen canals are dry-
ing up now that the canals are
lined with fabric and concrete.
The irrigation district and
other agencies also rerouted
water to keep fish-bear-
ing Manastash Creek flow-
ing year-round instead of
going dry in the summer. “We
achieved, I think, more than
anyone thought we could,”
Kittitas County Conserva-
tion District project manager
Sherry Swanson said.
Standing beside flowing
Manastash Creek, Eberhart
said the project was a creative
alternative to being sued.
“Before the collaborative
process, this would be dry
and embroiled in lawsuits,”
he said. “We can be creative
if we aren’t in litigation. With
litigation we crawl back in our
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Douglas County Livestock Association helps young ranchers get started
For the Capital Press
The Douglas County Live-
stock Association’s Heifer
Replacement Program is
in its 10th year of helping
young people get started in
the cattle business.
The purpose of the pro-
gram is to not only present
4-H and FFA kids with heif-
ers, but to encourage them to
continue in the cattle busi-
ness and in agriculture.
“We want to give these
young people a jumpstart
in the business,” said Veril
Nelson who owns Nel-
son’s Red Angus Ranch
east of Sutherlin, Ore., and
who helped establish the
heifer program. “The live-
stock association recognizes
the value of educating kids
about agriculture. The best
way to go about that is to
have an agricultural project.
Giving kids this experience
bridges that gap to agricul-
ture and might inspire them
to be involved in agriculture
in their future.”
Nelson said not every kid
who received a heifer over
the past 10 years has worked
to build a herd, but over-
all “the program has been
successful and the experi-
ences have been good for
Craig Reed/For the Capital Press
Molly Kenagy of Oakland, Ore., with the cow she re-
ceived as a heifer in 2019 from the Douglas County Live-
stock Association. The cow has had two calves.
the kids.”
The program has pro-
vided an average of two
heifers per year to kids in the
county. About 15 livestock
producers have provided the
heifers. The producers are
reimbursed 80% of the ani-
mal’s value by the livestock
association and they donate
the other 20%. The heifers
are valued at about $1,000.
Nelson said it hasn’t been
difficult to get a couple pro-
ducers to donate one of their
heifers each year.
Kids grades 5 through
11 are eligible to apply for
a heifer if they have previ-
ously shown a livestock ani-
mal in at least one jackpot
show or fair, have a suitable
location to keep the heifer
and can provide feed for it.
Cyrus Holcomb of Elk-
ton, Ore., and Tyler Ring of
Roseburg were two of the
first kids to receive heifers.
Holcomb was 13 when he
received a heifer from Nel-
son’s herd in 2011.
Ring was also 13 when
he got his heifer from ranch-
ers Brian and Cheryl Arp of
Days Creek, Ore.
Both Holcomb and Ring
still have their respective
heifers who became mother
cows. Holcomb’s cow had
its 10th calf this spring. That
cow’s first calf was a heifer
and it had its eighth calf this
Several of Holcomb’s and
Ring’s heifers haven’t been
sold, but have been kept and
have become mothers, help-
ing to slowly expand each
Holcomb and Ring
are now 23 and are fully
involved in ranching.
“The biggest thing I took
away from the heifer pro-
gram was the responsibility
you have for your animals
and for stewardship of the
land,” said Holcomb, who is
now partners with his father,
Roger Holcomb, in the cat-
tle business. “The program
taught me some skills and
gave me the encouragement
to take this career path.”
Ring said his livestock
goal is to raise good com-
mercial cattle and to sell a
few show steers back into
the community to 4-H and
FFA kids, helping them to
have the same livestock
experiences he had as a
Paige Edmonson of
Sutherlin was selected to
receive a heifer from rancher
Linda Sherman of Canyon-
ville, Ore., in 2019. That
heifer gave birth to a heifer
calf and the latter animal
has given birth to two heif-
ers, expanding Edmonson’s
small herd.
Molly Kenagy of Oak-
land, Ore., also received a
heifer in 2019. Her animal
came from the Nelson ranch.
Her heifer has had two
calves, a bull and a heifer.
Ring said he appreci-
ates the livestock owners
donating heifers with “good
“The heifer I got was
extremely well built and
has been a good mother,” he
said. “I wouldn’t be able to
do this without the produc-
ers donating some of their
Edmonson said the heifer
program has taught her all
about the work that goes
into building a herd, includ-
ing tracing gestation periods
and studying such subjects
as genetics and nutrition.
Kenagy said it was a
privilege to be selected for
a heifer.
“It’s a great opportunity,”
she said. “These ranchers
want to help you, they want
to help you become involved
in the livestock industry.”
Holcomb said it’s great to
walk out his front door and
“to know this land and these
animals are your responsi-
bility. It’s all on you. It’s an
achievement that’s been fun
for me.”
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Capital Press ag media
Submit upcoming ag-related
events on or
by email to newsroom@capitalpress.
com. All times reflect the local time
zone unless otherwise noted.
AUG. 6-7
Great Oregon Steam-Up:
7 a.m.-6 p.m., Powerland Heri-
tage Park, 3995 Brooklake Road NE,
Brooks, Ore. Enjoy a steam-powered
day with train and trolley rides, a
parade, steam sawmilling, traditional
tractor pulling, machinery demos,
threshing, flour milling, fire appara-
tus demos, museum tours, kids pedal
tractor pulling and a youth passport
program. Website: www.antique- Phone:
Transitioning Your Ag Business to
the Next Chapter: 12:30-4 p.m. Paisley
Community Center, 705 Chewaucan St.,
Paisley, Ore. Farm and Ranch succession
counselor and accountant Diana Tour-
ney will prepare you for the human and
financial elements of succession plan-
ning. Easement specialist Marc Hud-
son will answer your questions about
working lands conservation easements
— what they are, what they aren’t, and
how they may be helpful in execut-
ing your agricultural business plans.
These in-person events are part of a free
6-workshop series in Lake, Harney and
Malheur counties. All are welcome, and
the events are free. RSVP for these or
any of OAT’s other events and refer any
questions about the event to diane@ 503-858-2683
Transitioning Your Ag Business
to the Next Chapter: 12:30-4 p.m. Lake
County Library, 26 South G St., Lakev-
iew, Ore. Farm and Ranch succession
counselor and accountant Diana Tour-
ney will prepare you for the human and
financial elements of succession plan-
ning. Easement specialist Marc Hud-
son will answer your questions about
working lands conservation easements
—what they are, what they aren’t, and
how they may be helpful in execut-
ing your agricultural business plans.
These in-person events are part of a free
6-workshop series in Lake, Harney and
Malheur counties. All are welcome, and
the events are free. RSVP for these or
any of OAT’s other events and refer any
questions about the event to diane@ 503-858-2683
AUG. 8-9
American Lamb Summit: Michi-
gan State University and East Lansing
Marriott East Lansing, Mich. The sum-
mit will focus on competitiveness,
production and quality of American
lamb. Website: https://www.lambre-
AUG. 11-12
Idaho Milk Processors Associ-
ation Annual Conference: Sun Val-
ley Resort, Sun Valley, Idaho. The con-
ference will focus on industry issues.
Family Forest Field Day —
Southwest Washington: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
L & H Family Tree Farm, 1309 King
Road, Winlock, Wash. Whether
you own a “home in the woods” or
many acres of land, this “out in the
woods” educational event is packed
with practical “how-to” informa-
tion that you need to know. Learn
more at
AUG. 13-14
Dufur Threshing Bee 2022:
6 a.m.-3 p.m. Main Street, Dufur, Ore.
Relive the good old days at the Dufur
Threshing Bee. Included will be black-
smiths, a one-room school house, the
Dufur Historical Society, petting zoo,
food booths and artists’ booths, tractor
pull, vintage car show, hometown din-
ner and a steam engine display. Con-
tact: Nancy Gibson, 541-993-3429.
Markets .................................................12
Opinion ...................................................6
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staff and to our readers.
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