2002 Scorecard Vote
The Klamath Basin of Oregon and California hosts up to 80 percent of the Pacific flyway's waterfowl and the greatest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the continental United States. Salmon and other anadromous fish spawn in portions of the Klamath River and its tributaries, and the basin's six national wildlife refuges are among the most important migratory-bird habitat in the country.
Unfortunately, more than 20,000 acres of these refuges are leased for environmentally harmful commercial agriculture. Unlike other refuges that permit some form of farming in order to provide crop foods for wildlife, the Klamath Basin refuges allow purely commercial farming that makes use of 56 different pesticides, including several that are known carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disrupters.
Farming in the refuges also consumes vast amounts of scarce water supplies, and refuge marshes periodically go dry as water is diverted for irrigation. In addition, runoff from agricultural chemicals and erosion of farmland further degrades water quality in both the refuges and the Klamath River.
To help address these problems, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 5093, the Interior appropriations bill. The amendment would have prohibited the Fish and Wildlife Service from issuing new commercial agriculture leases in the Klamath Basin for crops that have severe environmental impacts. The amendment would still have permitted leases that were more consistent with farming practices on other national wildlife refuges. On July 17, 2002, the House rejected the amendment by a 201-223 vote (House roll call vote 316). YES is the pro-environment vote. At press time the Senate had not approved an Interior funding bill for 2003.