Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
MORRISON: Enough is Enough
June 09, 2005 by Joyce Morrison
OPINION - In the summer of 2001, we all gasped as we saw pictures of dead animals bloated and deteriorating in the parched, drought ruined fields of the Klamath Basin in Oregon and Northern California.
These poor animals were victims of dehydration and starvation when the irrigation water was shut off to the farms and the wildlife refuge. The reason for the water shortage was to provide an abundance of water for certain fish listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
As gross as this sounds, seeing the pictures was nothing compared to the trauma experienced by the folks who lived through this ordeal. They were forced to be helpless bystanders watching this devastation when their badly needed irrigation water was shut off in the midst of a drought.
Environmentalists claimed the Klamath River ESU coho salmon, the Lost River Sucker fish and the Shortnosed Sucker needed the water more than the farmers and the animals.
Farmers knew that even if they could survive that summer with only the water they could haul in or pump from their wells, they would have no winter feed. In fact, there was no pasture for the animals to graze that summer so many had to be shipped to other parts of the state to be sold at a loss.
"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the cornfield," said former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
And that is exactly the way these policy decisions are made. In Washington D.C., it is easy to debate needs, but if you are living in the middle of the dispute, it is a nightmare existance.
Finally, after it was too late, a portion of the water needed was released. Four years later, residents of that area are still struggling and their water needs have not been met.
“The Bush administration has freed more water for crops in recent years, but federal managers say some farmers could be shorted up to 40 percent of their usual supply this summer,” according to an article on the Klamath Bucket Brigade website.
Farmers are being pushed to the brink. Can they hold on? Are they given just enough water to give them a sense of false hope or will life finally get back to normal? Will they be made "willing sellers" by what appears to be fate?
As the folks from Klamath have said, “when the last salmon is gone, there will be no more salmon. But when the last farmer is gone, there will be no more food.”
Everyone worries about “farmland preservation” and fear mongers spread the tale that urban sprawl is taking all the farmland.
At the same time, there is a major move to turn farmland into wetlands, place conservation easements on property, take land out of food production and to take the control of the land away from the farmer. Government and environmental organizations are buying up land at record speed leaving less and less for farming.
Potatoes and all the other food that is raised in this basin is what has actually become endangered. The fact these fish are really endangered has been questioned.
It is ironic that a recent article by Liz Bowen, Assistant Editor of the Pioneer Press, tells of an 1851 journal stating the "Klamath River ran putrid from dead salmon." “The present-day mountain of Mt. Shasta was referred to as “Mount Shaste” by Gibbs. It is interesting to note that Gibbs reported the Klamath River was of poor quality. In one entry, he said, “In camping on the Klamath, it is necessary to seek the neighborhood of the brooks, especially that this season; as the water, never pure, is now offensive from the number of dead salmon.”
Bowen writes, “Roy Hall Jr., who is chairman of the present-day Shasta Nation, has stated repeatedly that the coho salmon are not indigenous to the Klamath River and its tributaries of Trinity, Scott and Shasta.” “The water is too warm and always has been,” reiterated Hall. “Coho salmon need cool water.”
Residents in the Klamath area tend to believe there is much more to this whole thing than fish. In fact, they think this ordeal smells “fishy”. For one thing, the coho salmon is what is used for canned salmon and for years the sucker fish was considered a nuisance fish.
Could the push to move the Klamath Basin farmers off their farms have anything to do with the Wildland’s Project? This is speculation but it is a possibility.
In case you don’t believe there is a Wildland’s Project, perhaps you should attend the following conference to learn just how advanced this project has grown and how the Federal Government is involved. Note it is a global plan.
A June 6, 2005 announcement by the WILD Foundation: ANCHORAGE, AK - “The Congress is expected to attract more than 1,000 experts from 40 countries, including numerous high-profile and senior-level political and corporate speakers.
The theme for the 8th WWC is Wilderness, Wildlands and People: A Partnership for the Planet. It will generate the most up-to-date and accurate information on the benefits of wilderness and wildlands to contemporary and traditional societies, and will review the best models for balancing wilderness and wildlands conservation with human needs.”
Oregon is often in the forefront of disturbing trends. Portland has been a leader with Smart Growth and transportation changes. More and more there are reports these high dollar projects are not working.
If you who are in education, you no doubt remember how Oregon led in their venture to offer a “Certificate of Mastery” instead of a regular diploma?
There has been a recent citizen uprising over their land use policies in Oregon. Carol Saviak, Executive Director of the Coalition for Property Rights writes about the fight for property rights launched by enraged Oregonians.
In November 2004, a statewide property rights referendum entitled Measure 37 was passed. Saviak said it “sent shockwaves throughout the nation’s planning community and signaled a new era in the national property rights movement.”
Oregon has been viewed as the national model for land use planning. It was the first state to create centralized land planning, and to adopt urban growth boundaries. When Oregon's top-down regulatory scheme was sold to their legislature in 1973, visionaries predicted every state in the nation would follow suit, according to Saviak.
Saviak said Oregon landowners finally said, "Enough is enough," and demanded complete accountability for the layers of restrictions that have impeded their reasonable use of their land.
You may not find this information significant because you don’t live in Oregon. If this is the case, you had better take a closer look at the Wildlands Project Map because you could be the next target.
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