Urgent Update/Announcement: Klamath Basin Crisis

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Urgent Update/Announcement:Klamath Basin Crisis Petition

In three weeks the Klamath Petiton has gathered almost 21,000 signatures. This is an outstanding achievement and the people of the Klamath Basin and all of us who are fighting with them to reverse the tyranny of denying farmers their irrigation water rights are grateful beyond measure to all who have signed. We are seeking to reach goals of 100,000 signatures and then 1,000,000 signatures. These numbers, if reached fairly quickly (by August 21 for the 100K and by the end of the year 2001 for the 1 million) will cause governmental officials, who should be working to end this travesty in any case, to take action out of fear for their political future if they will not act out of decency and a love for the fundamental principles of liberty that made this nation great.

In order to reach these goals and have this desired impact, we must expand our horizons and redouble our efforts.

We are urging EVERYONE to become active in spreading the news of this petition in your local communities. Take it to church, take it to your VFW meetings, sit out on the parking lots of stores and malls, take it to county fairs, take it door to door ... do whatever you can and whatever you must to spread this word and get valid signatures on this petition.

In order to help in this endeavor, we are making PDF (Adobe Acrobat) versions of the petitioon available online. Here is the location for the petition and the signup sheet:

Klamath Basin Water Crisis National Petition:

Klamath Basin Water Crisis National Petition Signup Sheet:

In order to view these files (you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader if you do not already have it, which is free and can be donwloaded HERE), just type the above addresses into your address window on your browser and hit a return to view the files ... from there you can print them out. Then, follow these instructions:

  1. Download or view the petition and signup sheet.
  2. Print out the petiton and signup sheets.
  3. Make as many copies as required.
  4. Take the petition and signup sheet to church, your VFW meetings, the parking lots of stores and malls, county fairs, door to door or wherever else your intuition and creativity guides you in your local area.
  5. Gather local signatures, locations and comments.
  6. Enter the gathered signatures, locations and comments into the online petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/klamath using your own email address as the common email address for those names you enter.
  7. Urge those signing or anyone of your acquaintences to do the same.
  8. Repeat numbers 1-7.

In this way we can rapidly expand the availability and exposure of the petition and the ritical issue it represents.

It is an issue that should interest any American citizen who understands and cherishes the value of their liberty and the principles which vouchsafe it.

If we can turn this reprehensible attempt to destroy liberty around in the Klamath Basin, we can use the experience as a template to face similar attempts down in other areas and begin to roll back the socialism/collectivism/marxism that is infecting our nation.


Jeff Head
Emmett, ID

PS - For those not familiar with the events that led up to this crisis and the events associated with the standoff between the Federal Government and its armed Officers and the farmers and their supporters, please use the following links:

Klamath Basin Crisis Web Site:

Eyewitness and Participant Account ot the Stand at Klamath Falls - Week 1

Eyewitness and Participant Account ot the Stand at Klamath Falls - Week 2

In addition, people should "stay tuned" to these online news sources for the latest regarding the crisis in Klamath Basin:

Sierra Times - http://www.sierratimes.com

-- William in WI (gnarledmaw@lycos.com), July 31, 2001


Thank you William!

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (wjl7@hotmail.com), August 01, 2001.

This piece by former congresswoman Elizabeth Furse sheds a lot of light on the Klamath Basin issue. It was published in the Seattle Times recently. ---------- Editorials & Opinion : Thursday, July 12, 2001

Guest columnist Government made right call on Klamath Basin irrigation

By Elizabeth Furse Special to The Times A congressional hearing in Oregon last month provided a glimpse of how a handful of politicians intend to exploit a severe drought in the Klamath Basin to further their long-standing goal of repealing the Endangered Species Act. The American people, however, overwhelmingly support the act and efforts to protect the nation's imperiled fish and wildlife. Some farmers in the Klamath Basin, an area that straddles the California-Oregon border, will not be able to use the amount of water they typically receive from the government. There is a reason for that; there is too little water. The region is a high, dry desert to begin with, and 2001 is the driest year in the basin since record keeping began.

This spring the government decided that federally subsidized irrigation would have to be substantially reduced to avoid the extinction of several species of fish, including wild Klamath River coho salmon. That decision, although difficult and controversial, was absolutely correct.

In 1909, the federal government began a foolish and ill-conceived policy of replumbing the entire Klamath River system with the intention of turning this high desert plateau into farmland. The area was opened to homesteaders who received access to an irrigation system paid for by the taxpayers. As populations grew, the government diverted more of the river, drained more wetlands, and promised more water than the river could deliver.

Naturally, the ecosystem in the Klamath Basin could not handle these intrusions. As irrigation increased, the basin's lakes shrank and grew warm, and the rivers dried up. The native fish species that once thrived in them began to disappear. Much of the basin's wetlands, once the staging ground for one of the mightiest concentrations of migratory birds on the planet, was converted to farms and, as a result, bird numbers plummeted.

The government irrigation program may have been a great boon for the farmers living in the basin, but many other people have suffered immeasurably from this largesse. The Klamath River was once the third-greatest producer of salmon and steelhead in the United States, and supported a fishery that provided thousands of family-wage jobs. As irrigation drained much of the water out of the Klamath River in recent years, the fishing economy collapsed. An estimated 3,700 fishing-dependent jobs have been lost in nearby coastal communities alone. Today, a visitor to once-thriving towns along the coast will see few fish but plenty of ?for sale? signs on fishing boats.

The government's irrigation program was even more devastating for the region's numerous Indian tribes. The Klamath Indians, for example, forced from their ancestral homelands, received solemn guarantees in a treaty with the government that their fishing rights would be protected for all time. The fish that once thrived in the region formed the backbone of the tribe's economy, culture and religion.

The government ignored this promise when it replumbed the basin for irrigation, sending the river and lakes into an ecological tailspin and completely destroying the fisheries. Today, lake fish on which the tribe relies are hanging on the very precipice of extinction. So, too, are the once-abundant salmon in the Klamath River on which many different tribes rely.

While the government's experiment with desert agriculture in the Klamath Basin has exacted immense costs, the benefits have been marginal at best. Farming represents only 6 percent of total employment in Klamath County and income from farming and agricultural services provides just 1 percent of the county's total personal income.

Moreover, agriculture receives taxpayer subsidies at every stage of the process, from federal price supports for crops to heavily subsidized irrigation water. Even so, agriculture in the basin has struggled: Last year, part of the Klamath Basin potato crop was plowed back into the ground because there was no market for it.

The Endangered Species Act didn't create the problem in the Klamath Basin. Rather, it is a warning, a ?miner's canary,? indicating that we have created an unsustainable ecological Frankenstein: The basin is on the edge of collapse.

Politicians and others who have long disliked the ESA see this tragedy as an opportunity to attack the act. They are cynically using the farmers' plight as a tool for their own purposes. But ?fixing? the basin's irrigation crisis by amending the ESA is like trying to put out a five-alarm fire by pulling the batteries out of the fire alarm.

We must say no to this ?quick fix? and work together to find a balanced, long-term solution to the water fight in the Klamath Basin, one that protects all of the people involved, farmers, fishermen and Indian tribes alike.

Elizabeth Furse is a former congresswoman from Oregon's 1st District (1993-1999). She is currently on the staff of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University, Portland.

-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), August 02, 2001.

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