That’s not rain in the distance. It’s dust caused by low moisture that has been kicked up by strong winds.The hazy view is a recent picture taken by Family Farm Alliance executive director Dan Keppen from Sheepy Ridge above the drought-induced, dust-filled vista of Tule Lake and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges.
The tour was organized by local farmers who brought members of the Western waterfowl conservation community to assess the drought conditions and discuss possible solutions t benefit local producers and waterfowl, in one of the most important areas of the Pacific Flyway. The tour also provided a grim, firsthand view of the consequences of moving hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water away from local farms and refuges due to single-species management for fish under the Endangered Species Act.
Yesterday, the Bureau of Reclamation’s allocation of 33,000 acre-feet to the Klamath Project received attention in local and national media, resurrecting memories for many of the catastrophic Klamath Project curtailment in 2001.
“We know that’s barely enough to charge some of the ditches,” said Ben DuVal, a Klamath Project farmer and President of the Klamath Water Users Association. “We know that’s less than we got in 2001. And that would be starting June 1st.”
For now, no Klamath Project water is serving local farmers and ranchers.
A Siskiyou Daily News story quoted local leaders, including the Family Farm Alliance. Mr. DuVal observes that current regulations will “create another dust bowl, destroy our farming communities, and decimate our wildlife.”
Capital Press called the allocation “a gut-punch to Klamath Project irrigators.” The story cites Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Touton who said, “We will continue to monitor the hydrology and look for opportunities for operational flexibility, provide assistance to Klamath Project water users and the tribes, and keep an open dialogue with our stakeholders, the states, and across the federal government to get through this water year together.”
Further south in the Golden State, farms are bearing the brunt of this year’s short water supply and have been forced to reduce the acreage of popular California crops, such as asparagus, melons, lettuce, rice, tomatoes, sweet corn, and others.
Water supply reductions mean fewer fresh fruits and vegetables for consumers, massive farm-related job losses, and billions in lost economic activity, impacts that go beyond rural and disadvantaged communities. View a map showing the extent of 2021 farm water supply cuts, prepared by the California Farm Water Coalition, here.