Letter from the Director
The past two years saw some impressive steps forward for KBRT. Our instream flow focus expanded significantly, including the development of a program to oversee permanent transfers of water rights instream, and KBRT enjoyed continued success in our restoration work across the Upper Klamath Lake Watershed. We have also been attuned to the current developments around the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) and the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).
Over 2,000 new acres of land were enrolled in the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, which KBRT uses to give landowners the opportunity to experiment with dryland or reduced irrigation production. These included properties through the Sprague River Valley and down the east and west sides of Upper Klamath Lake. We now have over 12,000 acres of previously irrigated ground enrolled in our programs, with almost 40,000 acre-feet of water left instream under temporary agreements. And there were two significant gains in KBRT’s efforts to make the increased instream flows permanent: first was the development of our Water Transactions Program under the Director for Water Transactions, Chrysten Lambert, which will enable KBRT to facilitate the legal transfer of irrigation water rights to instream use. Second was the development of the first two agreements to transfer private irrigation water rights instream in the Upper Klamath Basin. These are huge steps forward!
Jared Bottcher, our Restoration Director, kept busy with a full slate of restoration projects in 2011. While you will read about some select projects in our Annual Reports, choice highlights include the restoration of over a mile of Fourmile Creek into a functional channel from an irrigation diversion, restoring over 200 acres of the surrounding wetland. Additionally, KBRT facilitated the enrollment of over 700 acres of wetlands into permanent easements.
Passage of the KHSA and KBRA has the potential to open new doors in the path towards balance in the Klamath Basin. The agreements include provisions not only to return salmon to the Upper Klamath Lake watershed, but to permanently increase flows to the lake by 30,000 acre-feet and protect riparian areas, both of which KBRT has already been working towards.
As KBRT has been doing more work through the Sprague basin and other areas of the watershed, I have continually been more and more impressed at the quality of people in our agricultural community; their pioneering spirit, willingness to try new things, and never-ending patience as they teach us about their innovative approaches to ranching in the Basin.
Thanks for your support.