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

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KWUA in DC; Staunton to testify in Congress

April 9, 2024

WASHINGTON—This week, a Klamath Water Users Association delegation is in Washington, D.C., conducting meetings with key members of Congress and officials with the Department of Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Items of discussion include the 2024 irrigation water supply, uncertainties of ESA re-consultation and timelines, ESA alternatives to compliance, Klamath Project Drought Response Agency funding, infrastructure improvements, Klamath Irrigation District title transfer, and the implementation of the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement.

Marc Staunton Testimony

Marc Staunton will be testifying at a hearing on Capitol Hill on April 10, 2024. Staunton will speak before the Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries, regarding the impacts of USFWS’s proposed BIDEH rule.

In addition to the objectives above, we are privileged to have the insights of fourth-generation farmer and KWUA Board Member Marc Staunton. His extensive experience and deep understanding of the issues at hand will be invaluable as he testifies at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Staunton will speak before the Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries, regarding the impacts of USFWS’s proposed BIDEH rule.

The BIDEH rule (Biological Integrity, Diversity, and Environmental Health) proposes new regulations targeting agriculture by prohibiting farming practices in wildlife refuges.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal is an update of a policy issued during the last week of the Clinton Administration, and targets, and points to the elimination of longstanding and widespread agricultural practices on those public lands,” states Dan Keppen, Executive Director of Family Farm Alliance.

In his written testimony, Staunton states,

“I strongly believe that, done correctly, conservation and agriculture go hand in hand, and that belief is based on life experience. For example, it always fascinates me to watch as a freshly harvested field of potatoes is flooded. Waterfowl glean the nutrient-dense crops left behind by the harvester, and the leftover nutrients in the soil help stimulate the growth of native tule plants resulting in the potato field becoming a vibrate wetland in less than a year. Any time that our goal of feeding 330 million Americans has a symbiotic relationship with the local ecosystem, I believe we are headed in the right direction.”

According to the proposed BIDEH rule, agricultural practices will be prohibited unless they are determined necessary to meet statutory requirements, fulfill refuge purposes, and ensure biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health, and where we cannot achieve refuge management objectives through natural processes.

Staunton’s testimony continues,

“I am very concerned about the impacts of this rule on our refuge lease lands. If agricultural use were prohibited on lease lands, there would be very major negative impacts on my family, my community, and the environment. The KWUA Letter refers to the $30 million in crop value provided on Project lease lands and hundreds of jobs that are supported. The economic multiplier for agricultural crop value identified by Oregon State University is approximately two (dollars for each dollar of crop value). A more concerning economic factor would be the dramatic alteration of competitive private land in the basin. Eliminating 22,000 acres of current crop production would advance the all-to-common threat of consolidation to small or beginning farmers who have difficulty competing for access to land.”

Staunton believes agriculture has played a critical role in the idea, adoption, and implementation of projects that meet statutory requirements, fulfill refuge purposes, and ensure biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health.

“The heavy hand of government and new fodder for more litigation will not create a healthier, holistic ecosystem for your refuge systems. A community of local people, living with the land and ecosystem, understanding the unique challenges, developing the solutions as unique as the landscape are what a working land approach looks like and what I believe will continue to bring real, lasting benefits to our wildlife, our refuges, our food supply, our community, and our country,” concluded Staunton’s written testimony.

Staunton is scheduled to testify on April 10, 2024, at 10:45 a.m. (Eastern) 7:45 a.m. (Pacific) and can be watched live HERE.

 

KWUA DC Meetings

Beginning Tuesday and continuing through Thursday, the KWUA Delegation is scheduled to meet with many on Capitol Hill.

Today, the delegation connects with Senator Jeff Merkley, the House Natural Resources Committee, the House Agricultural Committee, Representative Cliff Bentz, Senator Ron Wyden, Katie Roberts (Professional Staff Member, Majority), Jack Holt (Professional Staff Member, Minority), and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

In addition to Staunton’s testimony on Wednesday, KWUA is scheduled to meet with National Marine Fisheries Services and NOAA Assistant Administrator Janet Coit.

On Thursday, KWUA will visit Bill Ball, Senior Policy Advisory Office of Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate AG Committee Callie Eideberg (Majority), and Coleman Garrison (Minority).

KWUA’s final visit will include meetings with Department of the Interior – Camille Touton, Commissioner – Mike Brain, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – John Watts, Senior Counselor – Mat Maucieri, Senior Advisor for Operations – Ankur Bhattacharya, CGB Liason.

The KWUA DC Delegation includes:
  • Tracey Liskey: Producer, President of the Klamath Water Users Association
  • Jeff Boyd: Producer, Vice President of the Klamath Water Users Association
  • Marc Staunton: Producer, President of the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency, Board Member of the Klamath Water Users Association, Klamath Project Lease Land Grower
  • Scott Seus: Seus Family Farms, Board Member of the Klamath Water Users Association, Board Member of the Tulelake Irrigation District
  • Derrick DeGroot: Klamath County Commissioner
  • Paul Simmons: Executive Director and Council of the Klamath Water Users Association
  • Mark Limbaugh, President, The Ferguson Group
  • Chris Kearney, Principal, The Ferguson Group

Attachments

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Cover photo caption: A deligation of representatives from KWUA are currently in Washington DC to meet with key members of Congress and officials with the Department of Interior and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. (US Capitol Building, Stock Photo)

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