Merkley and Wyden Announce $11 Million for Upper Klamath Basin

Washington DC – Today Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest up to $11 million in the Upper Klamath Basin over the next five years for water conservation, water quality, and fish habitat restoration efforts. This funding is designed to help with current drought conditions and will also support ranchers and farmers in the Klamath Basin with implementing commitments they have made as part of the historic Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement signed with the Klamath Tribes last month. The Agreement is designed to meet water conservation and ecosystem restoration goals developed collaboratively by Klamath tribal leadership and leaders in the ranching community.

“This is spectacular news for the Upper Klamath Basin community,” said Senator Merkley. “From addressing the current drought to conserving water into the future, these funds will produce a stronger economy and healthier rivers, helping to meet the economic and environmental goals of both the agriculture community and the Klamath Tribes. This award recognizes the hard work of stakeholders to create a vibrant vision for the future of the entire Klamath Basin.”

“This is a great example of how the federal government can be a constructive partner to the people of the Klamath Basin,” said Senator Wyden. “This funding will provide a short-term safety net to farmers and ranchers who need it the most, while I work with my colleagues to pass a long-term solution for the basin into law.”

The USDA will make available up to $4.5 million this year to help farmers and ranchers plan and install water conserving practices on their operations.  The goals of this targeted project in the Klamath Basin are two-fold: to help ensure the long-term viability and success of agriculture and to improve the overall availability of water for all users and the environment. This funding is designed to be consistent with the water agreements ranchers have entered into with the Klamath Tribes, and will support work to implement the Tribes’ water conservation and habitat restoration priorities for the Williamson, Wood and Sprague River basins.

This five-year investment is part of a larger partnership effort to help address water and natural resource issues in the Klamath Basin. This funding will both help keep more water in the river and restore river ecosystems, as well as help support a sustainable agriculture community.