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News Release

USDA continues to support Oregon’s Upper Klamath Basin, helps landowners conserve water

Contact:
Sarah Maxwell
(202) 720-0623


WASHINGTON, May 2, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $11 million to assist agricultural producers in water conservation and water quality efforts in Oregon’s Upper Klamath basin over the next five years.

“Landowners, conservation partners and tribes have taken a proactive approach to water resource issues in the basin, and USDA has a great opportunity to support their efforts,” NRCS Chief Jason Weller said. “We have a suite of conservation activities to help private landowners voluntarily take steps to conserve the quantity and improve the quality of water.”

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.

NRCS’ five-year investment is part of a larger partnership effort to help address water and natural resource issues in the Klamath Basin. The assistance will be targeted primarily to landowners who wish to participate in The Upper Klamath Basin Comprehensive Agreement developed by the Klamath Tribes, U.S. Department of the Interior, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and agricultural irrigators in the basin.

This investment builds upon the more than $81 million in NRCS funds used to conserve water, improve riparian and wetland areas, and enhance water quality in Upper Klamath Basin since 2002 and is designed to meet water conservation and ecosystem restoration goals developed collaboratively by Klamath tribal leadership and leaders in the ranching community.

“This strategy strengthens our efforts to provide landowners the resources and assistance to keep their agricultural lands viable,” said Ron Alvarado, NRCS state conservationist in Oregon.

NRCS is making this additional assistance available to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners who want to voluntarily install conservation measures that conserve water and establish and enhance riparian buffers. Practices include prescribed grazing, fencing, access control and no-till. They carry multiple benefits, including trapping sediment and nutrients, as well as conserving water to increase downstream flows, and will result in cleaner and increased amounts of water flowing to tributaries above the Upper Klamath Lake.

NRCS conservationists in Oregon will release information on application dates once they are established.

These efforts build upon President Obama’s commitment to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change and drought while maintaining agricultural productivity. Through the creation of the National Drought Resilience Partnership, launched as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are working closely with states, tribes and local government to develop a coordinated response to drought.

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