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.


The of battle the Bucket

Commissioners, Residents disagree on what to do with water crisis symbol

Herald and News by Ryan Pfeil, 9/19/08

H&N photo by Andrew Mariman The bucket memorializing the Klamath Bucket Brigade is considered an eyesore by some, and an important historic reminder by others.

For many Klamath Basin residents, a larger-than-life bucket in front of the Klamath County Government Center is a symbol of unity in a time of crisis. For others, it is an eyesore.

But talk of moving the bucket — a memorial of the 2001 water crisis when the federal government shut off irrigation water to Klamath Basin farmers to protect fish — meets resistance from farmers and community leaders.

The bucket was transported from Elko, Nev., to Klamath Falls as part of the Klamath Bucket Brigade to support Klamath Basin farmers.

But there are some residents who don’t believe the bucket represents all of the Klamath Basin community and should be moved, perhaps to the Klamath County Museum, where it can be viewed as a part of history.

They were among 75 percent of respondents to a Herald and News blog about the bucket who said it should be moved, or even scrapped.

Klamath County commissioners told the Herald and News this week they wouldn’t consider moving it until ongoing water issues are resolved.

S ome blog respondents called the bucket an important historical monument, but think it should be moved to a more appropriate spot for safety reasons.

“I fear that someone or something could get trapped inside it,” one respondent said. “Does it have a screen over the top?”

Others said the bucket was a symbol of political divisiveness and should be gotten rid of completely.

“The bucket is a reminder to many of us of the near riots that were being provoked by extremist locals and out-of-town right wing agitators,” a respondent said. “It shouldn’t be on any public property. The best ‘placement’ for the bucket is the scrap yard.”

And some viewed its location as a political move on the part of local government.

“Our county commissioners have kept it there to gather votes,” a respondent said. “But many of us regard it as an eyesore that detracts from the attractive appearance of a government building paid for by all of us.”

Visible location, constant reminder

Klamath Falls Mayor Todd Kellstrom agreed that moving the bucket might be appropriate, but not because the piece is unsightly.

“I wouldn’t call it an eyesore by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “I don’t think we should discard that important symbol of history.”

Kellstrom said if the memorial were moved, the museum would be an appropriate spot.

Tulelake farmer Scott Seus agrees that if moving the bucket is the only option, then its new location should be a prominent gathering place in the community. He suggested the Klamath County Fairgrounds.

“I still want to see it somewhere where it’s a remembered piece,” Seus said. “Perhaps it needs to be in a different location, but it still needs to be somewhere prominent where it stands out as a constant reminder.”

Seus thinks the current location is still appropriate because of the Bureau of Reclamation’s impact on county government.

“It was government created issues,” Seus said. “Therefore, maybe it is appropriate being there.”

Klamath County Museums manager Todd Kepple said if the bucket were moved, the museum would be a good spot for it.

“We are prepared to receive it if that’s what the commissioners were to decide,” he said. “It’s certainly an important piece of local history.”

What the commissioners think

Klamath County Commissioner Al Switzer feels the bucket should be left where it is until negotiations over water use are fully resolved.

“That’s what it’s there for,” Switzer said.

Switzer has not heard too many people call the bucket unsightly, but he has heard it called divisive. He wondered whether those who called it a community eyesore fully understood what the bucket symbolized.

Commissioners Bill Brown and John Elliott agreed, saying the bucket should not be moved until there is a fair resolution. Brown was vice president of the Bucket Brigade, an organization that helped get the bucket placed in its prominent location.

“The purpose of that bucket is very significant,” Brown said. “It showed the solidarity of the people during the water crisis.”

“A bucket is effective when both sides of the handle are firmly attached, and the bucket is in balance,” Elliott said. “Until the demand and supplies and everything are in balance, I feel the bucket should stay right where it is.”

Elliott does not think the bucket is an eyesore.

“A visual embarrassment to the community is thousands of acres of dry fields,” he said.

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:16 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2008, All Rights Reserved