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He was a fitting symbol for an act of protest

July 7, 2006

When Jess Prosser died Saturday at the age of 91, the Klamath Basin lost another member of that remarkable group of World War II veterans who came to the Klamath Basin and helped build it.

He was one of the lucky ones. His number was drawn and he won a farming allotment on the Klamath Reclamation Project. It was a way for a grateful nation to show its appreciation.

Prosser had served in the South Pacific, was wounded and, in 1945, was honorably discharged. He came to Tulelake and raised his family.

He became another part of history in 2001, when water was cut off to the Klamath Project to provide more water for fish species protected by the Endangered Species Act.

In an act of protest, the “Bucket Brigade” was formed. Its members moved water, one bucket at a time from one person to the next, from Lake Ewauna at Veterans Park along streets lined by thousands of people to the A Canal, near Klamath Union High School. It was a technical violation of the Endangered Species Law, though never prosecuted.

Prosser, whose farm totally depended on the Klamath Project for water, was chosen to lift the first bucket of “illegal” water and send it on its way. That he was picked to do so says a lot about the regard other farmers and ranchers had for him.




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