Wyden, Merkley Statement on Klamath Basin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley released the following statement today on the Klamath Basin:

“For more than a decade, the irrigators, tribes and conservationists of the Klamath Basin have worked tirelessly to craft agreements that can break a century-long deadlock over water rights. The Oregon delegation shares the goal of working together for the success of the basin, and all of the state. 

Today we took a step forward towards legislation that can make Klamath Basin agreements a reality. We are gratified that Rep. Greg Walden released a draft of House legislation related to achieving the Klamath agreements.  

While we appreciate this step, the draft House legislation falls short of implementing the carefully-negotiated agreement of the Basin stakeholders. The giveaway of federal lands to counties is a known non-starter in the Senate. It also eliminates a provision on dam removal that is central to the bargain worked out over years with blood, sweat, and tears.  

Nevertheless, having a House bill on the table is a constructive step, and we will do whatever it takes to work with our colleagues in the House on something that reflects the stakeholders’ vision and can actually pass.  

The farmers, ranchers, tribes, and advocates put partisanship and ideology aside to develop a plan that works for the Klamath Basin, and that’s exactly what we need to do. Federal implementation of the agreements will provide greater water supplies for the region’s agricultural economy and sorely needed certainty for ranchers, tribes and conservationists alike. Oregon and the basin deserve nothing less.”