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Over 70 Years of Representing the Farmers and Ranchers of Klamath Project

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2:19 pm, Jun 14, 2024
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Irrigation Leaders Meet with Merkley

June 8, 2024

Discussions included: infrastructure, opportunities, and immediate challenges.

KWUA was honored to host Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley for a meeting with irrigation leaders from the Klamath Project. Board members from KWUA and its constituent districts spoke with the Senator about priority issues affecting Klamath Basin agriculture.

“Senator Merkley has always been generous with his personal time with us, and he and his staff are quick to respond when they hear from us,” said KWUA Executive Director Paul Simmons.

The meeting focused on infrastructure and opportunities for rehydrating the basin for multiple benefits, the immediate challenge of grasshopper infestations damaging crops, and the current water year.

“Given the changes of climate and drought we are experiencing, if we don’t help the irrigators in the west we are going to lose a massive amount of agriculture,” said Senator Merkley.

KWUA Secretary, Mike McKoen (left) shakes the hand of Senator Jeff Merkley (right) during his visit with Klamath Project Farmers and Ranchers on June 8, 2024. (Image: KWUA)

KWUA leadership also described ongoing concerns about how the Endangered Species Act is administered in the Klamath Basin, and the need for a fair and open process.  These discussions echoed those at a meeting at KWUA in March 2023, when Senator Wyden escorted Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on a tour of the Klamath Basin.

“Senator Merkley is an energetic and effective champion for Klamath Basin farms, fish, and families,” said Tracey Liskey, President of the KWUA Board of Directors.  “We are very fortunate to have him in his position.”

Also, in attendance for the meeting, Dan Keppen, Executive Director of the Family Farm Alliance, said that Senator Merkley has been a strong advocate in support of funding for watershed programs that farmers in the Klamath Basin and other parts of the West utilize.

“The NRCS Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program has a strong track record of helping farmers, ranchers, and local water management agencies with efforts to modernize water systems across the West. Senator Merkley and his staff have been champions in the Senate, looking for creative ways to support this already over-subscribed program,” he said.

Additionally, Senator Merkley held a Klamath County Town Hall meeting at Oregon Tech, where he provided updates from Washington D.C. and answered questions from the public. The Senator also visited with a variety of groups during his visit to Klamath County.

Cover photo: On Saturday, June 8, 2024, Senator Jeff Merkley visited with Oregon farmers and ranchers of the Klamath Project. Discussions included infrastructure, rehydration, grasshoppers, and the current water year. (Image: KWUA)

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