A conservation group that has worked to solve water problems in the Klamath Basin since 2002 has joined forces with the nation's oldest and largest organization dedicated to saving trout and salmon.
The Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust, founded by Sabroso President Jim Root and cattle rancher Kurt Thomas, has merged with Trout Unlimited, the two groups announced this week.
KBRT launched a successful federal water bank program in 2002 that paid cattle ranchers not to irrigate their land so there would be more water available in creeks for endangered fish and farmers downstream. The nonprofit group has been working with ranches, farms and agencies to address water needs for both the environment and agriculture in the Upper Klamath Basin ever since.
"This merger will better enable KBRT to sustain and expand this vital work, and will help TU achieve its fishery conservation goals in the third most productive watershed for salmon and steelhead on the West Coast," said Root's daughter, Chrysten Lambert, in a news release. Lambert, formerly of KBRT, is now TU's Oregon Water Project director.
Trout Unlimited will maintain the current KBRT office in Klamath Falls at 700 Main St. The phone number will remain the same at 541-273-2189.
The two groups were recently awarded $7.6 million by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve water quality and flows, irrigation efficiency and drought resilience in the Upper Klamath Basin over the next five years.
Lambert said the money will be used to fund already existing NRCS programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and wetland reserve initiatives.
More than 83 percent of the grant funds will be directly contracted from NRCS to agricultural producers to implement such conservation measures as improving irrigation efficiency, managing pasture nutrients, restoring wetlands and using streamside riparian buffers.
— From local and Herald and News reports