KLAMATH BASIN, Ore. -- Oregon's U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley used his poisiton to successfully fight for funding for bipartisan agricultural investments.
Representatives from the Klamath-area irrigation districts worked with Merkley to get the funding that will have a long lasting impact on the rural communities throughout Oregon. Siginificant investments were included in the 2019 spending bills that were recently passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.
Mason Terry, board member of Morocco Point Irrigation District, said Merkley has been working hard for Oregon's farms. Over the last three years, Merkley secured over $75 million with $25 million in the last year for irrigation and modernization.
“Stability for our farms, survival of the species and success of our community all hinge on addressing the issues in collaborative, creative ways,” said Tricia Hill, owner of Gold Dust & Walker Farms. “To have support of Senator Merkley not only helps to bring us together, it gives us the ability to actually come up with a long-term solution that benefits us all. Thank you, Senator.”
Merkley helped write the new Agriculture and Rural Development bill. In that bill, fundng to help address water resource issues in the Klamath Basin were included. Four million dollars was secured for local efforts for the Klamath Basin Water and Wildlife Conservation. Of that $4 million, $3.5 million is specifically for supporting strategies to restore fish habitat and scale ongoing USFWS and Klamath Tribes' efforts to restore healthy populations of shortnose and Lost River sucker fish.
Other aspects of the bill included funding for payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) - $500 million to fund vital services, like public safety, for rural communities; agricultural research - $300 million to fund cutting-edge research to improve productivity and sustainability; water conservation and habitat restoration - $150 million for irrigation didstricts that need to improve water efficiency; wildlife prevention - funding for increases for programs to prevent wildfire and reduce hazardous fuels; wildlife prevention - $2.5 billion for fire fire suppression (100 million more than last year); collaborative forest management - $40 million for the Forest Landscape Restoration Program; salmon management - $37 million to help management populations, hatcheries and the Pacific Salmon Treaty; salmon recovery - $65 million to address declining Pacific salmon and steelhead populations.
Merkley says he will continue to make sure agricultural communities across Oregon have all the resources they need to thrive.