Greg Walden Applauds Trump Administration for Fulfilling Water Commitment to Klamath Basin Farmers

June 9, 2020
Press Release

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Click here or on the image above to hear an additional statement from Rep. Walden.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) commended the Trump Administration on today’s announcement by the Department of Interior that made good on an April commitment to deliver 140,000 acre feet of water for farmers in the Klamath Basin.  Walden, who participated in the rally in the Klamath Basin at the end of May that attracted thousands of participants, has been working with White House officials and the Secretary of Interior on the water delivery issue for over a month.

“The Administration heard our pleas loud and clear and were able to fulfill the allocation of water that was forecast in April.  While this will help most farmers get through this crop year, I’m doubling down on my efforts to get a longer-term fix for the Basin.  As I said at the rally, it’s time for a reset.  Despite every effort, the government’s schemes to save the sucker fish have not improved the survival of the sucker fish, but have harmed farmers.  Every year we go through the same fights and get the same outcomes.  Enough is enough.  This strategy is a failure,” said Walden.

Farms in the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California have faced uncertainty in their water supply for decades due to burdensome federal regulations from multiple agencies. It is something Walden has worked on tirelessly for more than two decades including helping to put fish screens in canals, removing the Chiloquin Dam to improve access to fish spawning habitat, and providing additional funding to improve water efficiency and reduce water use in the basin.

 “I’m also working closely with our senators to pass legislation providing for immediate drought relief.  We’re clearly in a drought year in the Basin. Farmers in a normal year would receive more than double the water they’re getting this year. We’re going to suffer some losses, and we need to make sure the Department of Interior has all the legal tools they need to help those who are harmed,” said Walden.

Last Friday, Walden traveled aboard Air Force One with President Trump and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt where he continued to advocate for the farmers and community in the Klamath Basin. He gave the President a letter and urged President Trump to convene a multi-agency task force, including the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture, to collaborate and find a solution for Klamath Basin farmers. 

“We’ve done just about all there is we can do. And yet the government and courts always tell us it is not enough. Science shows that the plans and government regulations are just not working.  Farmers are worse off than before. And fish populations are not improving. No one seems to know how many fish there are, how many there were, or how many there should be. We must do better. We need a fresh look at this whole system, and you can help accomplish that,” Walden wrote in the letter.

In the letter, Walden highlighted that this year’s drought has made the situation in the Klamath Basin worse than usual.

“Farmers are the backbone of our great nation. In the West, water is life. Without it we cannot raise the crops we need for our communities to survive economically. We’ve faced droughts before, but this year things are worse than usual. Crops were planted before water allocations were reduced as farmers watched water released to help salmon downstream flow past dying crops,” Walden wrote in the letter.

Walden concluded the letter urging the President to convene a multi-agency task force to help find a solution for the farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Basin. He also suggested holding a summit, something he called for last week, to bring together officials to find the best path forward. 

“We can’t wait another two decades to make positive change. We need it right now,” Walden wrote in the letter.

Walden also released a video statement on both today's Klamath Basin announcement and about asking President Trump to convene a task force.  Watch the video statement from Walden here.

Read the full letter to President Trump  here and below:

President Donald J. Trump 

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW 

Washington, DC  20500 


Dear President Trump, 


Family farms in the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California have faced uncertainty in their water supply for decades due to burdensome federal regulations from multiple agencies that favor fish over farmers. Upper Klamath Lake covers an area three times the size of Manhattan, but most of the water is managed for fish, leaving farmers as the last in line to receive water in droughts like they face this year. Farmers have done their part over the years, reducing water usage, improving access to fish habitat, and more, yet they get little credit for their efforts. They are getting a raw deal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With your help in convening a multi-agency task force to look at the competing issues across the Klamath Basin, we can find a solution that provides water certainty to our family farms and ranches.  

This issue is something I and others in the Klamath Basin have worked on tirelessly for more than two decades. Over the years, we’ve put fish screens in canals, we’ve removed the Chiloquin Dam to improve access to fish spawning habitat. We’ve provided funding and taken land out of production. We’ve talked to scientists. We’ve done just about all there is we can do. And yet the government and courts always tell us it is not enough. Science shows that the plans and government regulations are just not working.  Farmers are worse off than before. And fish populations are not improving. No one seems to know how many fish there are, how many there were, or how many there should be. We must do better. We need a fresh look at this whole system, and you can help accomplish that. 

Farmers in Oregon and Northern California have had enough. Last week, I attended a rally in Klamath Falls where thousands of fed up farmers, ranchers and their neighbors showed up and took a stand. A convoy of roughly 2,200 tractors, combines, trucks and more traveled across the basin in a line that would have stretched across Manhattan from top to bottom. About 4,000 individuals showed up throughout the day to make their support for our farmers and ranchers known. Farmers are the backbone of our great nation. In the West, water is life. Without it we cannot raise the crops we need for our communities to survive economically. We’ve faced droughts before, but this year things are worse than usual. Crops were planted before water allocations were reduced as farmers watched water released to help salmon downstream flow past dying crops.  

I know you and your administration care greatly about America’s farmers and ranchers and you can help solve this decades old problem.  I encourage you to convene a multi-agency task force, including the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture, to collaborate and find a solution. It would be highly beneficial to bring together the right people within your administration at a summit in Oregon and find a path to water certainty for farmers and ranchers in the basin. We can’t wait another two decades to make positive change. We need it right now.   

Sincerely, 

Congressman Greg Walden 

Oregon’s Second Congressional District 


cc: Secretary David Bernhardt, Department of Interior