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.

  AgLifeNW Magazine February 2004 issue

The State of the Union Address
President George W. Bush
January 20, 2004

Mr. President, I would like to respond.

We are irrigators in the Klamath Basin.  Yes we agree with your words...they
bring light and hope. But, your statement won’t leave my mind; “I believe
that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom.  And even when
that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.”

It brings my thoughts to another statement by a neighbor in 2001 when our
stored water was taken away from farms and refuges. Velma Robison, a WWII
homesteader’s wife, stated, “April 6, 2001 was as infamous to the people of Tulelake
as December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, was to the citizens of the United States.” I
remember Aline Terry, 80 yr old WWII homesteader’s wife calling me crying
because she feared having to slaughter their cattle herd of 50 years because the
pasture and alfalfa were dying and the cattle were starving. I remember
sitting in my car crying as over 100 unemployed farmers drove their tractors down
the streets of Klamath Falls as their crops died and pastures withered.  I
remember a Hispanic man, a Klamath Basin resident of over 20 years, crying,
wondering what he and his people would do, and where they would go.  I remember the auctions. I remember my elderly neighbors standing at the fence by the
headgates, with armed marshals keeping them from the wheel that they could turn to
keep their fields from dying. I remember my friend telling about her husband’s
suicide, because without water on farms, there is no life. I remember
90-year-old settler Nellie Takacs going without well water for a few weeks because over 100 domestic wells went dry from the empty canals and pumping our groundwater
excessively. I remember the day the National Academy of Science (NAS) interim
report, and also the final report, came out saying that the WATER SHUTOFF WAS
NOT JUSTIFIED. We rejoiced...justice at last!

And today I see, once again, the total disbelief as your government agencies
are taking our water, pouring our stored irrigation water into the ocean. 
Disregarding the NAS ‘best available science’,  they are using the same false
science that shut down our farms and refuges in 2001 to demand these
higher-than-historic elevated river flows and lake levels.

Tonight I attended a meeting in Fort Klamath. You should have seen the fear
and disbelief in the eyes of these farmers and ranchers whose land is surround
ed by National Forest.  This public forest, 690,000 acres, may be given to the
Klamath Tribes again, encouraged by your Department of the Interior and Bureau
of Indian Affairs. The Tribes told us they want to shut down backroads, let
fires burn naturally, downsize agriculture, and claim all of our water.  Their
claim in our state adjudication process is for more water than exists in our
watershed.  Tonight this same group was being told that an organization, 
Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust,  is trying once again to rent water rights from our
local ranches with federal money, dewatering our fields and destroying our
cattle industry, using the same false science that, ‘unjustified’, shut down our
community in 2001. Is this not tyranny?

And today we are being told that, if we do not pump our aquifer and let
fields go dry in a scheme called  ‘Water Bank’,  the Klamath Project will be shut
down again to achieve artificially-elevated lake levels for an endangered fish
that your agencies refuse to count, and that is being considered for delisting.
This water-bank, 75,000 acre feet of irrigation water,  is demanded of us
regardless of water year type.  Those who do not call it ‘blackmail’ call it

Mr. President, we still raise our flags.  We still pray.  We still have hope.
 Actually, I think most of us believe that if you really knew what was
happening here in the Klamath  Basin, the land grabs and agricultural downsize
regarding our water, we believe that you would not allow this to happen.  We do
want to believe in you, but your agencies and bureaucrats are making it very very

Again, like you said, “I believe that God has planted in every heart the
desire to live in freedom.  And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for
decades, it will rise again.”

Jacqui Krizo
submitted by www.klamathbasincrisis.org





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