Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Fighting for Our Right to Irrigate Our Farms and Caretake Our Natural Resources


Letter from John V. Hays, President Oregon Cattlemen's Association to 
Rep Greg Walden, U.S. House of Representatives

April 2001

Dear Greg,

It was good to see you yesterday at Klamath Falls. Bob Skinner and I are both still in shock, I know I was very quiet. I was so taken back in disbelief in this unfairness and the effect it has had on our people in the Klamath Falls area. I was touring the crowd most of the time, looking at the fright in peoples eyes and seeing their appreciation for us being there...Staying at Mike Byrnes home and talking with Lynn Cornwell (President of National Cattlemen's) and Bob Skinner until 2 am, feeling so much pain for those people. 

In my 58 years I have never observed anything like this. I guess I have seen people driven from their land, their homes, in foreign countries, but not in the land of the brave and the home of the free. I feel so helpless and hopeless. People were thanking me for coming and for the support, but what the hell can I do? 

We will have a hard time showing the Ted Kennedy's and the rest of that group the damage, the unfairness, the hurt feelings, of these hard working, deeply compassionate, and trusting people. How do you tell your kids that the government has bankrupted you, destroyed your livelihood, that we are broke and we must pack up and leave...All our hopes and dreams destroyed because of a Sucker Fish? Unfortunately, the kids will grow to hate our government; a hatred they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. 

Just like your grand folks talked about the "great depression" and the despair they felt for years. I don't think our kids are that tough today to live as grandma and grandpa did, as they did not have all the modern conveniences we have today, it will be hard to adjust.  I am worried about the suicides that will take place. In my talk, I told the kids to have faith in their mothers and fathers, they are under so much pressure , give them some space and support, give them a hug because they are here for you. They need you kids now, more than ever.

As you know Greg, I am a big strong man and will take on anything, I will help you all I can if you need me in D.C., but right now this big man feels like going outside and taking a long walk and having a big cry, out where no one will see me...A sad American who is really hurting for my people.

Your Friend , 
John V. Hays
President Oregon Cattlemen's Association



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