Tule Lake meetings begin next week; Comments,
input sought at Tulelake and Klamath Falls meetings
closes Feb. 10
by Lee Juillerat, Herald and
Vigorous, possibly contentious discussions are expected, and
encouraged, when the National Park Service kicks off a
three-week series of 11 public meetings on the future of the
Tule Lake Unit next week.
opening two sessions are set for Monday and Tuesday in
Tulelake and Klamath Falls, both from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday’s
meeting will be at the Tulelake-Newell Family Resource
Center in Tulelake while Tuesday’s gathering will be at the
Klamath County Library, 126 S. Third St.
discussion will be the recently released Tule Lake Unit
General Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. The
plan provides long-term guidance for how the NPS will
develop and manage the unit and how the stories of the
incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II will
will be contentious at times but we want that and that’s OK
because there are stories to be told and issues to be
discussed,” said Larry Whalon, superintendent of Lava Beds
National Monument who also oversees the Tule Lake Unit. He
believes the key feature of the unit, the former Tule Lake
Detention-Segregation Center, is “a significant reminder of
the importance of civil and human rights during times of
Upgrading the visitor experience
the plan’s preferred alternative, Tule Lake would be
upgraded with $11.7 million for roads, trails and barracks.
Facilities would be reconstructed, digital media provided
and visitor facilities open year-round. The Unit currently
operates on a seasonal basis from the Tulelake-Butte Valley
Fairgrounds office in Tulelake.
of the former jail and Camp Tulelake, which served as a
Civilian Conservation Corps camp before World War II and
later housed German and Italian prisoners of war, are
offered during summer months. The preferred alternative also
calls for creating a Tule Lake oral history program,
restoring the jail and reconstructing a guard tower, among
Tule Lake Unit is currently part of the World War II Valor
in the Pacific National Monument, which mainly features
World War II sites in Hawaii and Alaska. Under different
proposals before Congress by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, whose
district includes Modoc and Siskiyou counties, and retiring
California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Tule Lake would separate from
the Valor in the Pacific and become the Tule Lake National
addition to the $11.7 million in investments made during
three phases, the preferred alternative would increase
annual operation costs from $384,000 annually to $1.2
million. The plan calls for initially developing a visitor
contact center at the former ditch rider’s house and
eventually creating a visitor center at the camp’s former
build a Cadillac but pulled back to what we think we can
achieve,” Whalon said of the planning process and scaled
down version in the preferred alternative. “It will
definitely change Newell and bring some economic relief to
communities in the two (Modoc and Siskiyou) counties.”
emphasized the plan does not call for expansion of the
existing Unit, which includes 37 acres of the former
detention-segregation center, along with the 1,277-acre
Peninsula and 66-acre Camp Tulelake. “We’re not looking at
expanding the boundary,” Whalon said of the
detention-segregation center, noting a larger area would
require higher management costs. “I don’t think the story
would be told any better,” he said of adding lands.
Tule Lake Detention-Segregation Center is one of 10 World
War II areas where nearly 120,000 people of Japanese
American ancestry were incarcerated. Nearly two-thirds were
United States citizens. At its peak, Tulelake had more than
18,700 people. Opened as a detention center in 1942, a year
later it became the nation’s only segregation center.
plan would make Tule Lake similar to the better-known
Manzanar National Historic Site, a former World War II
detention camp in southern California. Manzanar had 95,327
visitors in 2015.
said the general management plan and upcoming meetings are
the result of a planning process that began in 2013, when
more than 600 people provided public comments following 15
public scoping sessions. “Now we have something on paper,”
he said, referring to the 277-page plan. “We hope people
will have comments we can use and put in the plan.”
Airport fence contentious
covered in the plan but expected to draw heated comments are
plans to build a fence around the Tulelake Airport in
Newell, which is part of the former detention-segregation
center. Japanese American groups oppose the fencing, which
is wanted to prevent possible wildlife collisions with
airplanes. The airport is used for agricultural based aerial
with the Tulelake and Klamath Falls meetings, others are
scheduled in Los Angeles, Carson, Sacramento, San Francisco
and San Jose in California, Portland and Hood River in
Oregon and Seattle. Virtual meetings will be held Jan. 10
NPS is thrilled to be presenting the plan to the public, and
especially to those who experienced the World War II
incarceration at Tule Lake or were impacted in the Klamath
Basin community,” Whalon said.
changes the narrative for Tule Lake. It pivots us to the
future of what the site will look like and the lessons
visitors will learn about Tule Lake’s unique and
long-contested history. We’re eager to hear what the public
thinks about the National Park Service’s plan for the Tule
Lake Unit, and we hope people will attend the meetings and
engage in the discussion about Tule Lake’s future.”
One of the nation's newest
The Tule Lake Unit, which is currently part of the World War
II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, is among the
nation's newest national parks. Created by President George
W. Bush in 2008, the park preserves the site of the Tule
Lake Detention-Segregation Center, one of 10 detention
centers created following Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor on
Dec. 7, 1941.
The Unit also includes the
1,277-acres Peninsula, also called Castle Rock, and the
35-acre Camp Tulelake, which are both owned and administered
by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and co-managed with
the National Park Service.
Opened in May 1942, Tule Lake
was the largest of 10 camps run by the War Relocation
Authority following President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s
issuance of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the U.S.
military to incarcerate U.S. residents of Japanese descent.
Tule Lake held up to 18,700
Japanese Americans and was designated the nation's only
segregation center in 1943. Many Japanese Americans were
considered disloyal after failing to answer "yes" to what
have since been regarded poorly worded questions about their
loyalty to Japan and their willingness to serve in the U.S.
military. Along with "no-nos," others chose not to move
their families to other detention centers were held at Tule
Lake, which had 28 guard towers along with tanks and
“Tule Lake’s atmosphere of
anxiety, anger, confusion, and distrust helped set the stage
for the largest mass renunciation of American citizenship in
U.S. history,” the management plan states. Because of the
controversy, 5,461 Tule Lake detainees protested and
renounced their U.S. citizenship. A subsequent legal battle
ensued through the 1960s.
period closes Feb. 10
Information about the series
of public meetings and the plan for the Tule Lake Unit is
available at parkplanning.nps.gov/TuleLakeGMP. Comments can
be submitted online or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facebook page at facebook.com/TuleLakeNPS. The public
comment period closes Feb, 10, 2017.
A copy of the plan is also
available with this story at heraldandnews.com.
Along with the preferred
alternative, the plan includes Alternative A, a no-action
plan that would include one-time costs of $907,000, and
Alternative B, which largely mimics Alternative A but would
include one-time costs of $2.23 million.
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