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.


Tulelake council approves first step to sell land underlying airport

The city of Tulelake’s involvement with the Tulelake Airport is nearing a close.

Earlier this month, the Tulelake City Council held the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale of the land underlying the airport to the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma. The airport itself is owned by Modoc County. The council is expected to finalize the sale at its July 31 meeting.

A vote to adopt the ordinance is scheduled following a public hearing at the upcoming meeting. Attorney Michael Colantuono of Grass Valley, Calif., who has represented the city in negotiations over the past several months, said the hearing is intended to allow public comment.

Under terms of the contract, the Modoc Tribe, which is based in Miami, Okla., will buy the land under the airport for $17,500. Contract terms stipulate the airport will continue to be used as a public airport. The airport is on property that was part of the World War II Tule Lake Detention-Segregation Center, the largest of 10 “internment” camps where about 18,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated from 1942 to 1946.

Colantuono, who has worked as a government lawyer for 30 years, said the airport has little value to the city because the airport facilities are owned by Modoc County and leased to Macy’s Flying Service. He said the sale price will largely cover legal fees. He terms the Tulelake Airport is “an economic development opportunity,” comparing it to the need to have roads and highways for travel and commerce.

Following the war, the property was conveyed to the city of Tulelake in 1951 with the stipulation it be used as a public airport. The transfer also said the property would revert to the U.S. if it is not used as a public airport.

According to the ordinance, which must be approved by four of Tulelake’s council members, the sale “achieves the City’s purpose of continued operation of the airport as a public airport.” If the second reading of the ordinance is approved at the council’s July 31, the transfer will take place within 30 days.

During the July 3 meeting, four people spoke in favor of the sale during the public hearing while none spoke against the sale.

Colantuono said he and Blake Follis, attorney general for the Modoc Tribe, will attend the July 31 hearing. Follis has not returned calls or email requests for information on the tribe’s plans for the airport.

Follis previously said the tribe, which consists of 300 members who are relatives of Modoc Indians sent to Oklahoma following the 1872-73 Modoc War, wants to re-establish Tulelake Basin ties.

Last year, the tribe purchased 800 acres of former Fleener sheep ranch north of the Lava Beds National Monument and, according to documents, has contacted the U.S. Department of Energy about a possible geothermal development.

The Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma is separate from the Klamath Tribes, which includes Klamath, Yahooskin and Modoc Indians.

The airport has become controversial in recent years following proposals by Modoc County to erect a 3-mile long, 8-foot high fence around the airport. In two legal challenges, the Tule Lake Committee, which includes Japanese Americans who were incarcerated at Tule Lake and their families, fought the construction of the fence, claiming it “would desecrate the site and had been working toward a settlement to protect and preserve the site and ensure access for future generations.”

Along with Modoc County, the city of Tulelake and Macy’s Flying Service are named in the suits. Asked if the sale of the land underlying the airport will end the city’s involvement in the suit, Colantuono said, “That’s the goal.”

The airport’s primary user is Macy’s Flying Service, a business that since 1956 has serviced farmers in far Northern California and Southern Oregon with agricultural chemicals and fertilizers applied by ground and air. The business employs up to 40 people, most who live in the Tulelake Basin, during its peak season. Owner Nick Macy said efforts to build a fence, which is wanted to keep animals, primarily deer, off the runway, began in 2004.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be a good thing, not just for us but for the entire community,” Macy said of the pending sale and hopes new ownership will lead to new jobs He also believes the Modoc Tribe wants to re-establish itself in the region.

“Regardless of whether they purchase the airport or not, they want to be part of the community.”


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

Home Contact


              Page Updated: Sunday July 15, 2018 12:52 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2001 - 2018, All Rights Reserved