Klamath, OR, County Extension Agent Kerry Locke, writing in the Oregon Potato Commission June Newsletter, calls the action taken by the U.S. government to take water from growers to protect two sucker fish and a coho salmon run nothing more than betrayal.
Locke says homesteaders were encouraged by this same government to develop the Klamath Basin with the promise water for crops and livestock would be plentiful.
The Klamath Project was developed during a time when the importance of agriculture to the country was obvious and understood. The government understood its role in opening up the west and making it available to anyone willing to work to improve the land to the benefit of themselves and our country.
Locke says the Klamath Basin was transformed into a productive, fertile farmland while providing refuges and habitat for wildlife. The Projects cover 220,000 acres in Oregon and California. Today, coupled with the Pacific Northwest drought, it is becoming a dust bowl.
Potato production has been declining over the years from over 20,000 acres 10 years ago to about 1,000 acres today. The only potatoes grown this year will be under well water.