Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

by John Griffith, Chairman of the Coos County Board of Commissioners.

       My Coos County Board of Commissioners colleagues and I were proud to stand beside the residents of Klamath County and northern California on May 7, 2001, at the Klamath Bucket Brigade.

       Commissioner Pete DeMain and I made the trip to Klamath Falls the night before and participated in the Brigade to show support for you, and to tell you that our people join with you in the most important issue facing rural Americans:  The Constitutional and statutory rights of states and counties to self-governance.  Commissioner Nikki Whitty was also booked to attend, but her father took seriously ill the day before and she needed to be with him.

       I also wanted to tell as many people of Klamath County as I could that Oregon fishermen were not part of the lawsuits that put Klamath residents into such rotten circumstances that made the Brigade necessary.

       I sought out groups of ranchers and farmers to speak with during the day.  I had intentionally worn "beach clothes," thongs, Carhatts and a T-shirt.  I told them I was from the coast, and a few said, "We should string you up."

       Then I told them that Coos County fishermen were not their enemy.  Most of our fishermen are engaged in trawl (as opposed to salmon troll), crab and other nonsalmon fisheries.  These are activities that have no connection to fresh water.  They are not members of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens Association (PCFFA).

       I've polled Oregon commercial fisherman over the years to learn if ANY are members of PCFFA, and have been unable to find any.  I've been unable to find any who say they know of any Oregon fishermen or fishermen's associations that are members.

       To my knowledge, PCFFA is Glen Spain, a Eugene attorney, Zeke Grader, of Eureka, and apparently some California fishing groups or individuals.

       Our fishermen share the same enemies as Klamath farmers.  The preservationist groups want us all gone, commercial fishermen, dirt bikers, hunters, miners, recreational horsemen and women and farmers alike.

       They might support horsemen today, for example, by taking a stand against dirt bikes, but tomorrow they will be back to eliminate horseback riding on the same trails.

       That is because their market product is controversy, backed by emotionalism and people's natural inclination to protect the environment.  Nobody more than a farmer or fisherman wants a healthy environment, because they depend on the environment to survive.  The preservationists capitalize on the urban majority's lack of understanding of how necessities get to market.  They need us to keep them alive by doing the jobs we do so well, or would do well if they'd let us.

       Before I get into too much trouble with legitimate environmentalists out there, I need to add that some commercial enterprises operate unacceptably.  Some loggers aren't as responsible as others, for example.  But we already have laws, plenty of them, to protect the environment.  Lack of law enforcement is not the same as someone saying farming and logging or fishing in and of itself is hurting the environment.

       In conclusion, we, the Coos County Board of Commissioners, are concerned about the well-being of all responsible citizens of Oregon.  As a rural, natural resource based county, we are particularly concerned with the well-being of citizens of similarly situated counties, and the persistence of rural communities.  We need a healthy enough economy to provide essential public services such as health, law enforcement and transportation.  We are less able to do that due to the erosion of our ability to work in the geographies where we live.  The overall quality of life of our citizens has been declining; and demands on essential public services increasing as a result.  This is unacceptable.

       We were proud to stand beside you at the Bucket Brigade, and were honored that you extended the invitation to us to be there.  Our concern for you continues.  I write to you to remind you that you are not alone, and that we will be there again when you need us.

With respect:

John Griffith
Chairman, Coos County Board of Commissioners





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