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Lake County participates in Klamath water rally

Ranchers, farmers and other supporters of agriculture in the Klamath Basin gathered for a large-scale rally on Monday, July 1, in Klamath Falls.

The rally, which featured a processional of dozens upon dozens of cattle trucks, logs trucks, farm equipment and more, served to bring awareness to those impacted by a loss of irrigation water.

In June, the watermaster began turning off water following a March final order of determination for enforcement of water adjudication law, which calls for first-in-time, first-in-right prioritization. The Klamath Tribes and irrigators on the Klamath Project made calls for water in June, according to stories printed last week in the Herald and News.

Numerous ranchers and farmers of the upper Klamath basin received the order to cease irrigation diversions for their pastures and crops, which could leave their cattle without feed for late summer or winter.

The rally was designed to bring awareness to the larger-scale issue of the vast number of individuals affected by the issue. The procession started at the Klamath County Fairgrounds and traveled downtown to the Klamath County government center.

Supporters from Lake County participated in the rally, showing their support for the cause. Among these was Janet Melsness, the interim accountant for Lake District Hospital. She and her husband, Hank, live in Bly and have a small 40-acre operation raising horses.

Hank also drives a log truck, she said, and while they are not pumping out of an irrigation ditch at this point they fear for a potential loss of their existing well.

Janet noted that the participation was encouraging, and hopes that the rally’s message is heard in light of the large number of those potentially affected if a stay against adjudication enforcement is not issued by the court.

“The participation was tremendous,” she said, noting 225 agriculture vehicles in total participating in the rally. “Our intention was to show how this was going to hurt our community. Agriculture is a huge mainstay for the community of Klamath Falls, as well as a mainstay of Oregon.”

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