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

What did the Sawgrass Rebellion accomplish? By Jan Jacobson,
director of the Everglades Institute.

  Mr. Jacobson joined the Klamath Bucket Brigade Convoy to Florida in Denver, Colorado and traveled on to Homestead, Florida with it. He spoke of the Everglades "Restoration" project at every rally from Denver on. ~ Barb

"Bureaucrats are negatively phototropic. Like roaches, they hunt for cover when bright light, such as TV lights, appear."

"Bureaucrats are negatively phototropic. Like roaches, they hunt for cover when bright light, such as TV lights, appear."

Being Director of the Everglades Institute, and living in the interior of the Everglades at an inholding in the Big Cypress National Preserve (BCNP) has given me a ringside view of the battles raging in the Everglades. Science and hard data contradict agency policies, and the leaders of environmental, farm, and recreational organizations agree on nothing.

The word "bureaucracy" include governmental agencies, universities, and the larger environmental organizations. I should also mention my having been a member of the Sierra Club's Florida Executive Committee (FLEXCOM).

Allowing bureaucracy into science and land ownership/management is a historically proven way to degrade either. The first Chief Scientist of the National Park Service said "Science in the National park Service is to be in service to the general management plan and the Superintendents. It is not science for science' sake."

Managers and Superintendents control science??? No college, university, or even secondary school allows the campus cop to sit on the faculty, let alone give orders to the faculty. Yet in NPS, and the Florida Wildlife Commission as well, bureaucrats tell scientists what results are acceptable and which are not.

This is the very path to ruin down which Lysenko led Russia. The resulting decisions based of such "science" were very damaging to the Everglades and "a prodigious waste" to use the prophetic words of the late Dr. Earl R. Rich.

On the other hand, one of the most unusual and certainly the most encouraging events of my life was being invited to participate in the Klamath Convoy.

They were driving from Klamath Falls, Oregon to Homestead, Florida in response to a call for help from fellow citizens. This was pure, unadulterated, grassroots citizen action. Imagine driving a 7,000 mile round trip to help people you have never met!

Frank and Peggy Wallace were typical members of the Convoy. They became active when an out of control agency tried to shut off the irrigation water system that sustained the entire valley and some 80,000 people. They were retired, but Bill Ransom was the Convoy leader and he left a farm and business for a month, as had others.

Bureau-scientists declared the water shutoff at Klamath was essential to save the suckerfish. Thirty years ago, the agency had a major program to kill off the same fish. When the National Academy of Science finally was asked to investigate, the agency rationalization for the water shut-off was described as "unfounded". In scientific circles, it's a polite was of saying "junk science".

When people like the Wallaces, and thousands of their neighbors refused to accept junk science and agency agendas, the peaceful confrontation eventually resulted in a most unusual event. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Venaman both traveled to Oregon to officiate at the reopening of the irrigation system.

For once, science triumphed over agenda, and hard data defeated hardball politics. At last, the Departments of Interior and Agriculture were cooperating.

As an ex Sierra Club officer, I knew the power of the agencies and the political strength of the environmental organizations attempting to destroy the Klamath community. To my amazement, the community won the fight.

You can imagine my surprise when I was told that these same people were coming to Florida to help the people of South Florida deal with the flip side of the same coin. Flooding, not water cut-off, was South Florida's problem.

The 8.5 Square Mile Area is home to many farmers, grove owners, and small nursery owners. Many had fled Cuba after Castro took all they had. For decades they built their homes, raised their families, and started farms and nurseries.

Then came the era of Everglades "Restoration". When Congress authorized the project, they were asked to protect this community. Congress responded by specifically ordered Army Corps of Engineers to build dikes to protect the 8.5 Square Mile Area.

The National Park Service, and the environmental movements, pressured Army Corps to not build the dikes. Government land acquisition, not land protection, became policy. The consequences of this deliberate defiance of Congress were not pretty.

From 1992 through 2001, the agencies had managed to cause annual floods of homes, farms, groves, nurseries, and even an education/research facility were flooded. Some of the flooded land is defined on the Federal Flood Zone maps as Flood Zone X.

Flood Zone X lands are supposed flood once in five hundred years.

But every year for the last nine years, flooding occurred. Residents drove through miles of water two feet deep. Alligators swam where once there were yards, farms, groves, and nurseries. According to the best science available, either all the floods of the next 4,500 years miraculously occurred all at once, nine years in a row - or agencies have deliberately flooded these citizens.

When the homeowners like Madeline Fortin and Lorraisa Valladeras finally sued, the Federal Judge found that Congress had ordered dikes, not land acquisition.

And the Convoys announced they were coming. Suddenly, nine years of flooding stopped. Water managers decided they didn't want national press seeing their handiwork of the last nine years. I am sure that if the Convoys had not come, flooding would have occurred as it had the last nine years.

Bureaucrats are negatively phototropic. Like roaches, they hunt for cover when bright light, such as TV lights, appear. The Convoys kept the waters down for that year, at least.

The publicity and the help to, and encouraging of, local grass roots political organizations, has proven to have had a lasting benefit.

Then Florida's Senators Bob Graham and Bill Nelson tried to sneak through Congress a legislative rider to undo the judges decision. So far, the House has not gone along with this. But the future is uncertain, and those who lost everything fleeing Castro's brand of Communism are once again at risk of having their land taken.

Even worse, Gov. Bush and President Bush are calling Congress to ask that the 8.5 Square Mile Area be forcibly acquired by condemnation. Why would the President and the Governor want to spend an unnecessary extra $80,000,000?

A Dept. Of Environmental Protection (DEP) letter has surfaced. It offered a team of negotiators to help acquire the 8.5 Square Mile Area for 'mitigation' purposes to benefit a French corporation, the LaFarge Corporation. "Acquire" private land for corporate benefit????

Using the State power of condemnation for the benefit of a private corporation is outrageous and illegal. Condemnation is restricted to government needs.

I suggest that since South Florida needs reservoirs to meet dry season contingencies, the mine is sufficient "mitigation". DEP is too large already - it doesn't need another "mitigation" project with more employees feeding in the public make-work trough at taxpayer expense.

Let LaFarge mine the lime rock and the end result will be a reservoir at no cost to the public. A rational decision would be to stop condemnation and allow the mine sans mitigation.

Benefits would include:
1. Save an entire community.
2. Save some $80 million.
3. Acquire a reservoir an no cost to the tax payer.
4. Prevent agency metastasis.

Water needs, panther needs, whatever the need of the moment- insist on sound science, please. The flooding of the Squares has been justified on water, panthers, ad nauseum.

If the Everglades "Restoration" had helped the Everglades, one might be tempted to overlook these abuses. But the evidence is clear and unambiguous that so far, Everglades "Restoration" has caused severe damage to the Everglades.

The sorry truth is that government ownership and/or management of land has been tried in many places. It has always failed. From the late Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, to Eastern Europe, Cuba, and unfortunately here in America - all attempts to perfect government ownership of land have failed.

Government ownership and/or management of land is the definition of socialism. Already, about half of all land under the American flag is government owned. To those who would increase government lands, one must ask "What of the Russian disaster do you not understand?"

This is a perfect example of what is wrong with agency and environmentalist alike. These are the mechanisms used by a consortium of agencies and environmentalists to thwart the expressed will of Congress.

 

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