farmers in the Klamath Basin are interested in selling their land
to federal agencies and thereby freeing up water, not only for
endangered fish, but also for their neighbors - although you
wouldn't know it from listening to their elected officials.
This spring, the Klamath Water Users Association
helped kill an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have freed up
$125 million in federal funds to buy land in the Klamath Basin
(HCN, 3/4/02: Klamath Basin II: The saga
Then, in June, 50 of the basin's
1,400 farmers sent a letter to the association, stating that
selling land and water easements is an important option for
troubled farmers, and challenging the association to put issues to
a vote before taking a public stand.
"We had no
idea there was this supposed discontent in the basin," says Dan
Keppen, the association's executive director. He believes some of
the signatures were forged and that the American Lands Conservancy
prompted the letter. "They misled folks who signed the letter, and
are trying to split the community."
Fahner, a landowner who drafted the letter, says the signatures
were legitimate and that the letter was an effort by frustrated
landowners to find solutions to the ongoing water crisis. "We need
to establish a means by which we can get a firm water supply in
this basin. Right now, we're just shooting from the