Skip to comments.Klamath Lease Threat Fails
Posted on 07/19/2002 8:42:40 AM PDT by forest
Washington D.C. News
Effort to limit Klamath Basin farming fails
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House on Wednesday rebuffed an effort by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., to limit planting of commercial crops in two Klamath Basin wildlife refuges, but not before the proposal fanned an argument over urban and rural priorities.
Blumenauer, who represents the Portland area, proposed ending production of alfalfa and row crops such as onions, potatoes or sugar beets on 2,000 acres of leased lands, saying the ban would cut water consumption, trim use of pesticides and protect wildlife.
"I think as you review the 100-year history of the Klamath Basin, the people who are reckless and damaging are those who feel we don't need any changes, that somehow we can continue to ignore the demands of the overall environment," Blumenauer said on the House floor.
Although Blumenauer's amendment to the Interior Department spending bill faced long odds from the start, it irked colleagues who represent the farming-dependent region. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said that cities such as Portland do greater damage to waterways and the environment than farmers do, but Congress often ignores their problems.
"In the city of Portland, 3.4 billion gallons of storm water and sewage flow in at 55 locations into the Columbia Slough and the Willamette River," Walden said. "They flush it, and it flows right into where the endangered salmon are, right over where there are toxic dumps of Superfund sites in the Willamette River."
The debate over Blumenauer's proposal was the latest turn in the saga of the tortured Klamath Basin, where drought has reduced water supplies and forced federal officials to choose among farmers, tribes and wildlife.
It also highlighted an enduring ideological conflict that has prevented Congress from solving the region's woes: While some members seek to protect the rights of farmers, others say government has promised more water than it can deliver reliably and should lower expectations gradually.
"We should lose no opportunity to make incremental improvements," Blumenauer said. "I think this is close to a no-brainer for objective observers."
At issue is an exemption to federal law that allows commercial farming in the Lower Klamath and Tule Lake national wildlife refuges. Under Blumenauer's proposal, 17 leases set to expire in October would be extended only to farmers who agree not to grow alfalfa and row crops that consume large amounts of water and are sprayed with pesticides.
Blumenauer said the new limits on farming would help the refuges comply with a 1997 law stating that conservation is the top goal of the national refuge system and any farming in refuges should support that goal.
But Walden said Blumenauer had failed to produce evidence that farming and wildlife conservation were in conflict. He cited studies showing that some migrating birds fed from row crops and that the refuges had not suffered adverse effects from pesticides.
"My feet are not stuck in concrete," Walden said. "But I want to do it in a way that works in the basin for the farmers and the fish and the fowl with science-based decisions. The rest is the rhetoric."
Although the amendment was defeated 223-201, Blumenauer said it served to remind Congress that the Klamath Basin will remain perched on the verge of crisis until farming and wildlife conservation are brought into balance.
"It does raise broader policy questions that I want people to think about," he said. "We cannot take care of all the demands, and I want us to take a big step back and be aware of that dynamic."
You can reach Jim Barnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voice message at 503-294-7604.
We won this one, but the vote was close. In glaring and trumpeting silence, not one word is mentioned of the blatant unconstitutionality of these actions. Both Blumenauer and Walden received notice of this fact, accompanied with ample documentation.
Many thanks to those of you that helped.
(Walden is mentioned 3 times by name, and quoted twice.)
Yep. How many millions of gallons of water apiece do the estates of all those enviro-zealot zillionaires like Bill Gates use? He build one in Oregon a couple of years ago, didn't he? I read about it at leat two years ago, on the web...Google searches aren't helping...does anyone remember about the water usage of those huge estates "out in the country" in Oregon?
No kidding, I'm surprise that they didn't refer to Walden as "what's his name" in the few instances they mentioned him at all.
But hey, just ask Phil Donahue, the lefties are ignored by the media.
"Calvin Dooley was the only Democrat from California that opposed the Blumenauer amendment to eliminate row crops and funding for administration of new leases in 2003. (342 thousand administrative costs in 2000 compared to 1.5 to 2.0 million in lease revenue generated annually). This amendment could have devastated the Tulelake community, the hunting program and eliminated a large portion of the food source and habitat for migrating waterfowl and other wildlife species.
"All of the Republicans supported Walden and Herger on this vote. The amendment failed 223 to 201.
"I plan to send letters to both those who support and those that oppose the Lease Land Farm Program. Representatives such as Farr, Capps, Condit and others who claim to be "pro agriculture" should not have supported this amendment. I have no idea why Thompson is becoming so involved ."
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