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.

Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California
Wednesday, July 7, 2004
Vol. 32, No. 34 Page 1, column 2

Help amend the ESA

* A congressional hearing will be held in Klamath Falls on July 17.

* Subject: Testimony to reform the Endangered Species Act.

* A rally is planned to show support.

By Liz Bowen, Assistant Editor, Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California

SISKIYOU COUNTY, CALIFORNIA – Grange directors are inviting those concerned with stifling regulations resulting from species listed to the Endangered Species Acts to show up.

A rally, complete with "Reform the ESA" signs, will be held on July 17, before and during a hearing by the House Resources Committee of the U.S. Congress.

"We need a turnout like we had for the Bucket Brigade on May 7, 2001," said Rick Lemos, a director with People for USA Grange.

Lemos is also a rancher in Shasta Valley, near Yreka, California, and has been in the forefront; when it comes to fighting strangling regulations from federal agencies.

The May 7, 2001 Bucket Brigade was an unusual event, but the crisis creating the event was also unusual. The 1,400 Klamath (irrigation) Project farmers had lost their water due to biological opinions pushed by the Green enviro agenda regarding coho salmon and Upper Klamath Lake sucker fish.

The 90-plus year-old project, under the administration of the Bureau of Reclamation, was forced to shut down water delivery through hundreds of miles of canals and ditches for most of the growing season. Thousands of acres of potatoes, alfalfa, grain and row crops were affected; as well as the families that grew the crops.

Economic loss is not counted in the ESA decisions

Local business leaders estimate that the termination of the 2001 water deliveries inflicted $200 million worth of economic damage on the Klamath Basin community. Klamath Falls in Southern Oregon and Tulelake, which is just across the border in California, are the major cities that were affected by the water shut-off in the Klamath Basin.

Although federal and state efforts have focused on resolving the situation, the Klamath Project was nearly shut down, again, last summer, because of the ESA regulations. This 2004 year is also another dry summer, resulting in uncertainty for farmers and the Klamath Basin communities.

California Congressman Wally Herger is encouraging everyone to attend the congressional hearing that will begin at 9 a.m. at the Ross Raglund Theatre in downtown Klamath Falls. Herger attended the May 7, 2001 Bucket Brigade and passed buckets of water shoulder-to-shoulder with other officials, farmers and residents. The water was illegally dumped into the A canal.

Richard Pombo, another congressman from California, is chairman of the House Resources Committee and is an advocate of ESA reform, even though this is an election year. The Green enviro groups fight any suggestion of ESA reform and actually push for even stronger requirements against agriculture, timber and mining folks.

The Bucket Brigade was a success

"Help us strike another historic blow for freedom," said Kathy Van Tuyl, president of PFUSA Grange, referring to the success of the Bucket Brigade.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people protested the water shut-off in a peaceable manner at the Klamath Falls Bucket Brigade. Many Siskiyou County residents drove two or three hours to participate and show their support to the Klamath farmers.

"The bigger the crowd we produce … the more ammunition and justification will be given to Chairman Pombo and other congressional supporters of the ESA reform," added Van Tuyl.

In the House Resource Committee’s press release, Chairman Pombo said, "The water shut-off in the Klamath Basin is a dramatic example of how, after 30 years, the Endangered Species Act has failed the species it was designed to recover. Unintended consequences have devastated communities. We must find a sound and balanced approach."

For more information, contact Van Tuyl at pathfynder@surfree.com or Lemos at 530-842-5352.





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