Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Fighting for Our Right to Irrigate Our Farms and Caretake Our Natural Resources

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         Tightening the Screws

by Henry Lamb
May 5, 2001

Republished with permission from author / supporter

2001 WorldNetDaily.com 

More than 1,400 farm families in the Klamath Basin
have been targeted for economic extinction by
environmental extremists. Nearly 90 percent of the
210,000 acres of farmland will get no water from
Upper Klamath Lake because Steve Lewis, a
biologist, rendered an opinion for the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, which said a sucker fish in the
Upper Klamath Lake, and Coho salmon in the
Klamath river need the water more than the
farmers. In an appeal, U.S. District Judge Ann L.
Aiken agreed, saying, "... while it is clear that the
farmers face severe economic hardship, the threat
to the survival of the fish is greater." 

A "Bucket Brigade" is scheduled for May 7, where
thousands of supporters will physically lift buckets
of water from Klamath lake and hand them,
person-to-person, down the brigade, all the way to
an irrigation canal. The demonstration may draw
attention to the farmer's plight, but it is not likely to
change anything in the long run. The Klamath
Basin is in the path of a coveted Bio-region -- the
fish problem is simply a tool being used to achieve a
much bigger objective. 

The underlying legal authority is the Endangered
Species Act (ESA), which has been used excessively
by environmental extremists to drive people off
their land and into economic oblivion. 

Ironically, the ESA was enacted in response to a
very emotional appeal to protect the American Bald
Eagle. The decision to protect the Klamath sucker
fish will deprive the Lower Klamath National
Wildlife Refuge the runoff from area farms, which
will jeopardize as many as 1,000 eagles that feed
there. 

Attorneys for the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund
(formerly Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) are
fighting for the sucker fish. This same extremist
outfit sued the federal government on behalf of the
Coho salmon, then submitted a bill to the Justice
Department for $439,053. Most of the bill
represented 931 hours by a single attorney -- at
$350 per hour. 

This fight, though, is not about attorney's fees, as
obnoxious as they may be. This fight is not about
the sucker fish, as repulsive as they may be. This
fight is about the land. 

It would be a mistake to laugh off the vision held by
some, to convert as much as half the land in North
America to core wilderness reserves, devoid of
humans, connected by corridors of wilderness, all
surrounded by buffer zones. This vision was
advanced initially in the United States by Dave
Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!, founder of the
Cenozoic Society, the Wildlands Project and,
recently, a member of the board of the Sierra Club. 

Foreman's vision was elevated into a legitimate
plan when The Nature Conservancy and the
Audubon Society funded the efforts of Dr. Reed
Noss, who actually drafted the Wildlands Project
plan. The United Nations Environment Program
legitimized the vision when it published the Global
Biodiversity Assessment (GBA), a massive
1,140-page instruction book for implementing the
U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. Section 13
of the GBA is a detailed description of how
biodiversity should be preserved under the
Convention (treaty) and, on page 993 (Section
13.4.2.2.3), the Wildlands Project is named
explicitly as being "central" to successful
implementation. 

When the plan first appeared in 1992, it drew rave
reviews from deep ecologists and environmental
extremists -- and rounds of robust laughter from
everyone else. 

Al Gore did not laugh. Bruce Babbitt did not laugh.
Carol Browner did not laugh. 

Immediately upon taking office in 1993, the
Clinton-Gore administration began restructuring
the resource agencies of government around an
"Ecosystem Management Policy" that elevated the
protection of ecosystems to the same level as
human health and considered humans to be a
"biological resource." When the
Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate failed to ratify the
Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994, the
shocked and bewildered administration decided to
implement the Ecosystem Management Policy
anyway. 

From day one, Gore, Babbitt, and Browner set out
to impose and enforce every rule possible to keep
people from using federal land -- even private
lands. A lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club Legal
Defense Fund to "save" the spotted owl, took out
the loggers in the northwest and eventually, in the
southwest as well. A red-legged frog froze
commercial activity on vast stretches of land in
California. Monument designation removed
ranchers and prohibited mineral production on
nearly two million acres of the Escalante Staircase,
and millions more acres in and around Clinton's
rash of additional National Monuments. 

On and on it goes. Following the Clinton-Gore
administration around the United States is a trip
through tragedy for people who love the land and
depend upon its natural resources. 

Now, it is the farmers in the Klamath Basin who
must pay. They must pay with their land. Had the
federal government just ordered the farmers to
move, there would have been a rebellion. 

No, no. No one would be so brazen. A more subtle,
indirect approach was contrived. In Ohio, The
Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service would never "force" people off their
land -- they would, instead, proclaim the virtue of a
new wildlife preserve and insist that the farmland
owned by nearly 200 families must be protected for
future generations -- and, therefore, the taxpayers
should buy the land from the residents of the Darby
and return the land to its pre-settlement condition. 

In Maine, environmental extremists want to
convert most of the state into wilderness. In the
northwest, there are several simultaneous, indirect
tactics underway, all of which have the effect of
forcing people off the land -- or severely limiting
what people may do -- who are allowed to stay on
the land. The Columbia River Basin has been a
burning-barrel for tax dollars, wasted in plan after
plan to remove or control the people. The Columbia
River Gorge Commission is a classic example of
government controlling people's activity on their
own private property. 

The Y2Y project envisions wilderness from
Yellowstone to the Yukon, and the Cascadia
Bioregion vision adds the forests and river bottoms
from Washington to northern California --
including the Klamath Basin. All across the land,
policies and programs are being implemented that
have the effect of forcing people off their rural land
to achieve some imagined environmental benefit. 

If the Klamath farmers get no water, they can't
farm. If they can't farm, they will have to move
somewhere and find work. It's as simple as that.
Sympathy will be dispensed and tax dollars offered
but, in the end, if farmers can't get water, they can't
farm. If they can't farm, they must move off the
land. 

Ask any congressman or federal officer what the
Klamath water decision has to do with the
Wildlands Project and the reply will be an
indignant "nothing!" Sadly, most of them will think
they speak the truth. The field officers of the federal
agencies are just following orders. Their bosses,
however, were selected by the Clinton-Gore team
directly from the very environmental organizations
that dreamed up and promoted the Wildlands
Project. Many of the second- and third-tier officials
remain in the Bush administration. 

The elected officials have little time to be bothered
with wild, scatter-brained "conspiracy theories"
about U.N. land grabs. "Hogwash," they say.
Anytime the U.N. is mentioned in less than glowing
terms, elected officials tend to throw up the "black
helicopter" defense and listen no more. 

Nevertheless, look around. If the Klamath farmers
get no water, they must move. The loggers in the
northwest found that owls and salmon are valued
higher than the needs of loggers and they were
forced to close the mills and move off the land. The
ranchers throughout the west are finding it
increasingly difficult to keep their herds at
profitable levels because of ever tightening rules
and regulations. 

Miners are now a distinct endangered species, but
they are not on the EPA list for help. Private land
owners from Maine to Ohio to Florida are finding
"growth limits" blocking economic expansion and
forcing land into open space instead of productive
usage. Slowly, project by project, law by law, rule
by rule, the United States is being transformed into
the bizarre vision advanced by Dave Foreman more
than a decade ago, which, incidentally, is precisely
the objective of the U.N. Convention on Biological
Diversity. 

The screws are tightening now on the Klamath
farmers. It is a sad day in the United States when
the government officially places the value of a
sucker fish above the needs of its citizens. The
Endangered Species Act, as onerous as it is, does
provide a mechanism for a so-called "God Squad"
to overrule the federal agency and the sucker fish. 

It is worth noting that when the snail darter
stopped construction of a major dam in Tennessee,
it was none other than Al Gore who demanded
that the God Squad step in and overrule the ESA.
Of course, this was before Al's green baptism, when
he really was concerned about the people who
elected him. 

The Convention on Biological Diversity was not
ratified by the United States. Clinton and Gore are
no longer in charge. But the drive to push people
off the land continues, powered by foundation and
corporate-funded environmental extremist
organizations and their former officers who remain
entrenched in government. 

This foolishness must stop. Perhaps the new
administration will listen to the people. The last one
certainly didn't. 


Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the
Environmental Conservation Organization and
chairman of Sovereignty International. 

 

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