Central Oregon farmers are wondering how the two recent lawsuits filed over the endangered spotted frog can impact their use of Deschutes River water. In particular, the allotment of water to junior holders, those downstream, may be negatively impacted should the suits prevail and the irrigation districts, which control the flow of water in the Deschutes River, be forced to keep more water in the Upper Deschutes to protect spotted frog habitat. Farmers in Jefferson County will be greatly impacted should the lawsuits prevail and fear of the loss of water has already curtailed the sale of farm equipment. The farms around Madras are known internationally for their production of seed crops which rely upon a consistent flow of water from April through October to produce. Farmers believe there is sufficient water in the Upper Deschutes River to supply them with the irrigation they need and maintain the spotted frog habitat at the same time. The environmental groups which have filed the lawsuits do not. Should the lawsuits succeed, the resulting curtailment of water to the farms in Jefferson County could be devastating and could wipe out the whole region economically.
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