Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Mon, July 1 2013 at 3:53 PM, Updated: Mon, July 1 2013 at 4:03 PM
No water, no food...
That's the message farmers and ranchers were delivering at an agricultural rally today in Klamath Falls.
Water has now been shut off to over 100 ranches in Klamath County.
Rally organizer Eric Duarte stresses that today's event was not a protest...even though his irrigation water was shut off more than a week ago...
"It's an actual rally to show the Klamath Basin what agriculture means to the Klamath Falls area, and to the state of Oregon in general."
Less than two weeks ago, Becky Hyde was testifying on Klamath Water issues before a senate committee...she's now reducing the size of her cattle herd.
"Our family has already shipped out four loads of cows, we have one load of yearlings left. We were one of the first people to be shut off."
Over 200 trucks made a convoy from the Klamath County Fairgrounds to the Klamath County Courthouse for today's rally, which drew a crowd of over 500 - with as many as 1000 along the convoy route.
The crowd included Bruce Topham, who's now trying to run his Flying 'T' Ranch without water...
"We have probably 300 acres that has no other source of water. We weren't even supposed to have water for the cows to drink, but I begged."
Today's rally triggered memories of a similar rally sparked by a water shutoff in 2001...and the ranchers hope that if a solution can be found, there will be no need for future rallies.
"And it is critical that we pull together as a community, and get a settlement, and work on it now, right now." Notes Becky Hyde. "We cannot wait."
The Klamath Tribes are exercising their right to cut off water to ranchers to improve fish runs...but ranchers are hoping there can be some water left for them, instead of being cut off entirely.
There was a strong law enforcement presence at today's agricultural rally, and some cops were even brought in from outside the area.
While the convoy caused some traffic delays, police say there were no security problems with today's rally.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.