As part of the 2021 state budget, Assemblywoman Megan Dahle (R-Bieber) and Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) negotiated a $10 million emergency appropriation for Tulelake Irrigation District to protect food production, domestic wells, and critical waterfowl habitat threatened by the drought and shut-off of water from the Klamath Reclamation Project. There have been no surface water deliveries to the Tulelake Irrigation District, Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge or the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in 2021 as the Bureau of Reclamation complies with two biological opinions that have left farms and refuges void of water.
After receiving approval from the Legislature and receiving the governor’s signature, $10 million will be sent to the Tulelake Irrigation District for Klamath River Basin habitat and ecosystem protection, along with waterfowl morbidity prevention. This victory is the direct result of bipartisan partnership between the Assembly and Senate.
“I’m thankful to my colleagues for recognizing the importance of the Klamath Basin to the North State,” said Assemblywoman Dahle. “Over the last several months, we have worked with the Tulelake stakeholders and family farmers to lay the groundwork for meaningful and sustainable solutions. I’ve been in constant contact with them to identify ways to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts as much as possible. This emergency appropriation is critical to ongoing efforts to survive this crisis.”
The Klamath Basin currently has no stored water being provided to irrigators or their communities to meet their minimal needs. As a result, many farmers find themselves wondering if they will have to forfeit their generational farms. The land tells the historical narrative of their great-grandparents and pioneers alike who believed that sweat equity could attain the American Dream. Their dreams built a better tomorrow for their children and their communities.
Moreover, the basin is a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway for migratory waterfowl. Water levels are perilously low, which in the past has caused massive die-offs of birds caused by pathogens that activate in warm shallow water. This funding will offset drought-related response costs, allowing emergency wells to be drilled, protecting soils from erosion and maintaining water conveyance infrastructure.
“The crisis is at a breaking point and this funding will provide immediate relief,” said Senator Dahle. “An environmental disaster in the Klamath Basin would impact the food supply chain of the United States. Many of the legislative members we sought help from have been to my district and I appreciate their efforts on our behalf. I’m pleased to see this funding made available to head off an even more costly disaster.”
“Our region has been plagued by drought and water shut-offs,” said John Crawford, president of Tulelake Irrigation District. “This funding is essential, and will allow us to provide for wildlife habitat mitigation and agricultural sustainability in the basin and beyond. We are very grateful to Assemblywoman and Senator Dahle for their tenacious budget negotiations and months of work that made this possible.”
Assemblywoman Megan Dahle represents the 1st Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Butte and Placer counties, along with Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, and Siskiyou counties.