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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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The Bucket
Should the Bucket, a symbol of the 2001 water conflict that stands in front of the Klamath County Government Center, be moved? That question was posed in an editorial March 12. Here are some responses.
By BARB HALL Guest columnist

   The other definition of watershed is of interest to everyone who’s aware of the Klamath: Watershed — A crucial dividing point, line or factor, a turning point.
   2001 was a watershed year for the Klamath and for America. There are many reasons for this, but there is one besides 9/11 that will forever be branded in the hearts and minds of Klamath Basin residents and the people nationwide that became involved in the Klamath Basin in the summer of 2001.
   In 2001, the Klamath’s farming community lost its guarantee of water — a guarantee that had stood the Klamath and America’s consumers in good stead for nearly a century.
   For all the talk of “restoration,” the Klamath has never been static.
   The Klamath — its land and water, its people, plants and animals — has always been changing and adapting to shifting weather patterns. In dry years before the Klamath Reclamation Project, everyone suffered. Change brought the Klamath Project to the Klamath Basin and made it sparkle like it did, at one time, only in the wet years, but never even then was it as bountiful as the Klamath Project’s arrival made it.
   Water evaporated or ran downstream. Water, in the years before irrigated farming in the Klamath Basin, was available once before it either “went up” (evaporation) or “went down” (downstream).
   The birth of the Klamath Project was a watershed moment: for the people, plants, animals, birds and fish of the Klamath Basin.
   At last came the chance for the use and reuse of water, over and over, with little evaporation but vastly increased production — and with just 2 to 4 percent of the water going into agriculture.
   The Basin bloomed and blossomed. What was once a place where people lived at the mercy of the weather became a place of verdant beauty and measurable success. The bounty of the land fed everyone, from the people of the Klamath to its plants and animals, both cultivated and wild. No longer was the Klamath at the mercy of the weather with its ever-changing “feast or famine.”
   The Bucket was born in 2001, crafted by those with an intimate knowledge of the importance of water to people, plants, animals, birds, fish, and land.
   The Bucket was huge, but it symbolized a huge issue: water in the Klamath and water for the Future of the Klamath. The Bucket was simple, both in design and adornment. Its very presence brought grown men to tears and teenagers to cheers. People looked upon it in amazement, just as they did the arrival in their neighborhood of loads of hay from distant states, donated food (for people and animals) and other necessities, and the gathering of good people in Klamath Falls in August 2001.
   The Bucket was built to last. The Bucket came to stay, for it signified all that was — and is — good in the Klamath. Water is the lifeblood of life itself in the Klamath: for everyone. No one and nothing can live without it.
   When guaranteed water was shut off to the irrigators who had paid for it in advance, a play began in the Klamath. Act 1 was the shutting off of the water.
   Act 2 was the reaction to the shutoff.
   Act 3 was the convergence on Klamath Falls of people from all over America — from as far away as Maryland, Ohio and Texas. A central Nevada rancher, an Idaho stateswoman and others pivotal to America’s continued Constitutional Republic — all came to Klamath Falls to make a stand.
   Act 4 was the peaceful encampment at the “A” Canal Headgates, a place that became hallowed ground and “Ground Zero” before 9/11. Never was a meal prepared and served that prayer was not said first. II Chronicles, Chapter 7, Verse 14, hung on a banner above the entrance to the big green-and-white headgates tent. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
   The Klamath was where America’s backbone coalesced, just like Jarbidge and the shovels in northeast Nevada, the Darby Basin of Ohio and the log haul in Montana.
   Water for agriculture cannot, should not and must not, be “mitigated.”
   The Basin, the Bucket and backbone are not negotiable. All are here to stay. Those seeking to sell “restoration” and “mitigation” are marketing snake oil in the 21st century. It’s time to see that and recognize it for the Trojan Horse it is.
   The Wildlands Project — goes. For all its slick talk, “restoration” and “protection” by outsiders is a sham. Everyone is wounded by such an agenda, except those pushing it, but they are not farmers and irrigators who raise food that feeds people.
   No one doubts that parts of the Klamath are wild — the wild flocks that migrate and winter in the Klamath are wild, but they go where the food is. Food that is there because of the Klamath farmers and irrigators, not in spite of them.
   Cut off the water to the Klamath Project and you kill much more than the 1,400 farmers and their way of life.
   The Basin, The Bucket and Backbone stay.


Regarding the Herald and News March 12 editorial, “Time to move past symbol of 2001 conflict?”
   What does the Bucket stand for? It represents the efforts and charity of thousands of concerned citizens and so much more. It stands on the sidewalk in front of the Klamath County Government Building, showing that this community came together in support of our family farms and businesses.
   In 2001, the Bucket Brigade was thousands of people coming together from all over this great nation: farmers and ranchers, elected officials, business owners, Native Americans, and many other concerned individuals and groups objecting to a flawed decision. A decision based on fatally flawed science that brought great harm to not only the citizens of the Klamath Basin, but also threatened all America.
   We were “ground zero” for the war for western water. As stated by a newspaper article out of California, the Klamath Basin cannot lose this battle or we all lose.
   The Bucket was made and donated to the Klamath Basin by people who were profoundly shocked, then galvanized by the water cut off. They and others from all over America donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief and aid to the Basin. Never was the Bucket used to pursue a conflict with the Tribes. The fight is with the Endangered Species Act, bad science and those who would use them to take away private property rights.
   The Bucket was welcomed by thousands as it traveled from the Klamath Basin to Homestead, Fla., as a symbol of hope and unity. It was welcomed by citizens of every community through which it traveled, as a hope for a solution to the similar problems that were encountered in every state.
   The Bucket stands for freedom — not so much for “our” side against “their” side, but for us, for all of us, in the name of long-standing liberty and freedom. It stands for the unity that thousands of American’s felt when such an oblivious injustice was done to our farming and business community. It stands for the generosity and support of thousands of Americans who came to the aid of this basin. It stands for the American God given right to stand up and fight for what the majority believes to be right.
   In addition, it also stands to remind us all that the 2001 Water Crisis is not over. The Klamath Reclamation Project farmers and ranchers are still not guaranteed their water because of continuing litigation, biased and incomplete scientific studies, and special interest groups that place groundless accusations against the Klamath Project for all the woes of the Klamath River and salmon recovery.
   The Bucket must continue to stand to show those who are determined to sacrifice us and our way of life for some other future, to reconsider what the past has shown and what the present means to us all. We are not going away.
   The Bucket belongs where it was dedicated until the battle is over.
Bill Ransom Chairman of the Klamath Bucket Brigade, Inc.


   My family is Native American.
   We were born here and grew up in this community. As tax-paying citizens we are offended that the two buckets that represent division in the community are so prominently displayed on county property. The Government Center and the Klamath County Fairgrounds are both supported by tax dollars — taxes paid by citizens on both sides of this issue.
   Contrary to what some local people believe, the members of the Klamath Tribes pay taxes.
   Every year the tribe, its members and its employees put millions of dollars back into this community. My family paid more than $19,000 in federal, state, and property taxes this year.
   Since my husband and I have both worked for 30-plus years we have contributed a great deal to the community.
   We own two homes, which were not purchased by government money, but with our hard-earned income. We shop locally with the exception of one local restaurant whose wait staff refused to serve my family in the height of the “water issue.” We even gave that business a second chance only to be insulted once again when we were not served.
   These buckets are symbols of a community divid ed — a division that was wholly supported by elected county officials who not only praised the acts of division but donated thousands of tax dollars in support of it.
   If those elected officials are so proud of this division, they can place these huge eyesores in their own frontyard where they can proudly gaze out at them and pat themselves on the back for working so hard to keep the community divided.
Laurel and Marcus Robinson Klamath Falls





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