Klamath Water Users Association today urged that supporters of agriculture stop intimidating and inappropriate behaviors immediately.
Reports say that names and addresses of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation employees have been published on social media, inviting that anger be directed toward those public servants, and there have been other inappropriate communications. “Stop it,” said KWUA President Ben DuVal. “It is completely out of line. It will hurt Klamath Project agriculture.”
Reclamation is not driving the decisions that are depriving irrigators of desperately needed water. “Reclamation is the messenger for bad news, but rarely the cause of that bad news,” said KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons. “Blaming them for our problems reflects a lack of understanding, and will get no more results than blaming President Nixon for signing the Endangered Species Act.”
This year, for the first time in 1907, there will be zero water diverted through the A Canal, the source of water for well over 100,000 acres of farmland. There will be terrible impacts to family farms, the regional economy, and wildlife.
Yesterday, Representatives Doug LaMalfa and Cliff Bentz spoke for thirty minutes on the floor of the House of Representatives regarding the dire situation and announced that they will introduce legislation to provide essential relief to Klamath basin communities and wildlife. They, and the four Senators from Oregon and California, are working diligently on behalf of irrigators and the basin.
“In this country, we take our grievances to courts and to the political process,” said DuVal. “We interact with the Bureau of Reclamation daily. When we have complaints, and we do, we raise them in a civil and respectful way.”
“The personal health and safety of every individual and their families is paramount,” added KWUA Vice President Ry Kliewer. “I will protest, I will demonstrate, but I will be peaceful. And I will respect others the way I expect them to respect me and my family.”
There is concern that there could be action this summer that is both inappropriate and damaging to irrigators’ cause. There are rumors that people are being recruited from other parts of the country to participate in demonstrations. In the past, persons threatening property have represented a tiny fraction of the irrigated acreage in the Klamath Project.
DuVal participated in last year’s Shut Down, Fed Up Rally, that drew national attention with its twenty-nine mile-mile long motorcade of tractors, farm equipment, and trucks. He said there is growing public awareness of the problems and wrongs affecting the agricultural community, but there is a long way to go. “Help us get the facts out, but when it comes to people, stay focused on your family and neighbors,” said DuVal.