June 10, 2013
he Klamath Tribes and the federal government called their water rights in southern Oregon’s Klamath Basin for the first time Monday, likely cutting off irrigation water to hundreds of cattle ranchers and farmers in the upper basin this summer.
The historic calls come after Oregon set water rights priorities earlier this year in the basin, home to one of the nation’s most persistent water wars. Drought has cut water flows in upper basin rivers to 40 percent of normal.
“This is a devastating day,” said Becky Hyde, a longtime cattle rancher in the upper basin’s Sprague River Valley. “This is such a core piece of our economy. It’s not like we can lean back on tourism and things can be OK.”