"It does not require a majority to prevail, 
but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."
 --Samuel Adams - Leader in our Fight for Independence

This picture illustrates the effects of the federal action in Klamath Basin with 2000 on the left and 2001 on the right.  The picture came from the home page of farmers resistance organization at www.klamathbasincrisis.org



Crisis Timeline
May 7
July 5
July 14
July 15
August 28
August 29
Thru 2001

Fact Vs. Fiction

Bucket Brigade at the Headgates

For the latest and most complete information on the Klamath Basin Crisis go the Home Page of the Bucket Brigade

More pictures from Klamath

The Montana Convoy

Klamath Basin and Wildlands Project

Bad Science

NAS Science Review

Salmon Clubbing

Species vs. Species





"The government's hit list: Miners, Loggers, Farmers, Ranchers,
Refuges, Towns, 
Way of life, Freedom, Guns, Migrant Farmers, 
Our future,"



"Hasn't been this dry since prohibition."



"Saved the fish; Lost the farm."



"Feed the feds to the fish."



"Dial 911!! Some sucker stole my water."



"Klamath Basin, destroyed and betrayed by U.S. Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife"



"Welcome to the Klamath Project.  Largest water theft in history"



"Where water flows 
your food grows."



"Federally created disaster area."



"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance".

 Declaration of Independence

On May 7 Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers, whose way of life is being exterminated as a result of federal interpretations of the Endangered Species Act, formed a symbolic bucket brigade to dramatize their plight. Bucket brigades have been a symbol of unified community action against threatened disaster throughout the history of the American West

The 1,400 farms located in Siskiyou and Modoc County, California, and Klamath County in Oregon, were homesteaded, in part, by veterans of WWI and WWII at the special invitation of a grateful nation. These veterans were enticed with the promise of a rich irrigated land in which they could invest their blood, sweat and tears.

Local residents are now in shock at the decision by the federal government to completely shut off the irrigation water that serves more than 90% of the farmers. The decision, based on inflated claims to minimum lake levels and downstream flows for threatened fish, leaves no water to allocate to the other 6,000 water users, including several major National Wildlife Refuges hosting migratory waterfowl. With the lakes and reservoirs currently brimming with water, it is difficult for these small family farmers and ranchers not to feel betrayed and abandoned by their government. "What do I do now? How will we pay the bills? Where will we go?" are common phrases hanging heavily in the air. With the economy already stressed by decade long regulation and low prices for crops, it is likely that almost 80% of these small operations could fail this year if families can't farm.

The federal decision goes against the entire history of the Klamath Basin. In 1905, California and Oregon ceded lake and marshland to the federal government specifically for conversion to agricultural use under the Newlands Reclamation Act. The Klamath Project then evolved into a complex system of irrigation canals, dams, diversions and drains, bringing life-giving water to crops grown in the some of the richest soil in America. Water use rights under a bi-state compact set water use priorities with agriculture both first and second in line, then recreation and wildlife third.

The tri-county Klamath Basin produces $100 million in hay, grains, and vegetables. This, in turn, produces an additional $250 million in economic activity in the various agriculturally dependent communities throughout the region. Livestock herds, now being liquidated, are worth another $100 million in replacement costs. Without farms, thousands of farm workers will have no work. Without farmers to buy seed, supplies and equipment, the infrastructure of small businesses that support agriculture will collapse.

According to federal agencies, once a species has been federally listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, it's alleged needs must come before the needs, rights and property of individual Americans. In this limited water year, rather than share the shortfall, it has been decided that sucker fish suddenly need elevated lake levels and coho salmon need greatly increased downstream flows. Because the federal government is involved in the mechanics of distributing the farmer's and rancher's water through the Klamath Project, it has decreed that fish come first over farms and families.

During past periods of low-water, such as 1992 and 1994, Klamath farmers worked for balance, voluntarily supporting the water needs of the waterfowl and wildlife refuges. When faced with another low-water year this year, the Klamath Water Users developed a plan to share the limited water among users. The plan, however, was rejected. Now, experts predict 420,000 tons of topsoil will blow away this year, because farmers without water cannot even plant cover crops to save the soil."

These families, their livelihood, lifestyle, hopes and dreams, are being sacrificed to the inflexibility of a bad regulation - the Endangered Species Act."

Excerpts from a Paragon Foundation Press Release


Klamath Basin farmers symbolically defied a federal ban on irrigation by dumping 50 buckets of water into the A Canal. A crowd of 8000 people from all walks of life helped hand the buckets on a mile long line from Lake Ewauna to a footbridge over the canal beside Klamath Union High School. The crowd of supporters applauded as Jess Prosser, an 85-year-old World War II veteran who homesteaded on the Klamath Project, drew the first of 50 buckets of water from the Veterans Park boat ramp at Lake Ewauna Farmers hoped their symbolic defiance of a court order against irrigation would be the "bucket heard íround the world."


With the sheriff's department here refusing to intervene, federal officials asked for help today from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States marshals after farmers, angry about being cut off from irrigation water, opened an irrigation canal's headgate three times in the past week. "We now have people who have entered federal property and done damage to federal property," Jeff McCracken, a spokesman for the United States Bureau of Reclamation, said. "We have no choice but to involve law enforcement and are asking for their guidance." Bureau workers have closed the gates after each instance because workers for the Klamath Irrigation District, which contracts with the bureau to operate the sites, have refused.

The Klamath County sheriff, Tim Evinger, has refused to take action against the protesters, saying no state or local laws had been broken."It's desperate times for these desperate measures," Sheriff Evinger said today, explaining why he did not intervene while he watched protesters open the headgates on Wednesday. "We absolutely support it if it's peaceful." On Wednesday, 100 to 150 people formed a human chain and shielded men who cut off the headgate's lock using a diamond-bladed chainsaw and a cutting torch, sending water from Upper Klamath Lake into the canal. The headgate had been opened two other times since Friday night in defiance of the bureau's order



Farmers opened gates for the fourth time yesterday standing off a contingent of U.S Marshals. Today armed Marshals out manuevered the farmers and took control of the head gate area.


Farmers sent water down an irrigation canal Sunday that has been parched since water was shut off last April to protect threatened and endangered fish. About 100 farmers used an irrigation line to bypass a canal head gate in a move officials called "symbolic."

The farmers, who have camped out at the canal head gate for several days, placed a pump in Upper Klamath Lake and ran about a 200-yard-long irrigation pipe along a fence and into the canal on the other side of the gate, federal and county officials said. The pipe was eight inches in diameter, according to the farmers' Web site.

Federal agents with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation did not plan to arrest anyone, but were monitoring the situation, said Jeff McCracken, a Bureau spokesman

On Sunday, dozens of farmers continued to camp out along the irrigation canal. They had set up two awnings and installed portable toilets, lawn chairs and picnic supplies outside of a chain link fence separating them from the canal

AP Wireservice


The Bucket Brigade put out a call for help which got enthusiastic response around the West. Convoys were organized to bring needed supplies, cash and moral support for the beleaguered farmers. I went down with the Montana convoy of 21 vehicles, arriving Monday, 8/27/01

That evening there were some local speakers. The most common themes were pride in the accomplishments of the local people, achieved with a determination to win and to do it without violence. The Sheriff was especially concerned that the activities be nonviolent.

More convoys from Nevada, California, and Washington came in the next day. The parade through Klamath Falls started out at the edge of town with 85 vehicles and more joined as we proceeded. A BIG BUCKET from the Jarbidge Shovel Brigade was erected on the Courthouse lawn. The speechifying lasted for at least an hour while the parade waited in the downtown streets. Later there were more speeches at the fairgrounds which I skipped out on and went to the headgates of the irrigation canal were the actions is.

The "A" canal is about 20' wide and several feet deep. It distributes the water of Upper Klamath Lake to the farmers. The lake is about half the size of Flathead Lake although not nearly as deep. It is very full right now.

The head gates are surrounded by a chain link fences with barbed wire at the top. The fence gates are chained and padlocked. Six or seven fully armed, flak jacketed, and brown shirted BLM guards were visible at all times. We talked to Ms. Probert who wore Badge # 1. She must be the head of BLM law enforcement. I asked her if she had noticed any changes in her agency since Bush took office. She said no, but that was probably because only the top officials had been changed. Therefore no directives were coming thru channels and they were acting on old klinton directives!!!

While we were in Klamath the water was flowing and no attempts to take over the head gates was made. It was expected that the water would be shut off after the convoy left and it was - at 5:30 AM on Thursday. We did hear some talk that there would a civil disobedience action on Thursday. Media was present but they didn't seem to be making a big splash.

The people we spoke to were glad for our support. Our main goal was to reinforce the fighting spirit of the Bucket Brigade by a show of support. In this we were successful.

Gary Hall


One-by-one American citizens climbed the newly constructed wooden ladder, positioned over the chainlink gate, and stepped into no-man's land.

At first the air was hushed as if with reverence. It gave strength to solidify and unite -- to come together as one. Soon more and more became anxious to stand on the liberty-proving ground. Hymns like "Onward Christian Soldier" and "Amazing Grace" were sung, then patriotic songs filled the air and finally the national anthem brought tears to a self-respecting people. It was a step towards liberating all people from the yoke of federal bureaucracy.

Make no mistake, each individual knew they were crossing the no-trespassing line and defying the United States federal government. After an hour of informative speeches and offered options, the 300 individuals knew they were taking a stand against tyranny. Each was ready to be arrested if need be.

The fence is the boundary between Klamath Falls city property and what the Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) claims is its land. The headgates were protected by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rangers and so were not broken into, which would have been a fifth time since the BoR stopped 90 percent of irrigation water to 1400 farmers in April.

Barbara Martin, a local realtor, explained how and why the no-man's land and the headgate area was actually now owned by the irrigators. Irrigation districts had long since paid for the cost of the canal system project and under a U.S. Code should have been considered the irrigators.

"They are the trespassers," accused Martin of the BLM Rangers and BoR officials

Farmers, grandparents, business people and church goers, chose to push the civil disobedience envelope a little farther. At the narrow cement bridge above the headgates of "A" canal the four BLM Rangers stood shoulder-to-shoulder and would not move nor speak. The protesters handed papers to the Rangers that claimed they were the true owners of the headgates

The BLM Rangers remained silent, but one did produce a key to the lock holding the huge chain around the boundary gate. When the gate was opened, the protesters removed it from its hinges, symbolically stating that it would not be closed again. The patriot protesters had gained the 100 feet between the canal and the chainlink. The Freedom Headgate Encampment began moving its headquarters from the other side of the fence.

Earlier during the hour of speeches, two men had addressed the crowd of 500. They had been asked to attend by Martin. Both had served as sheriffs and had stood up to federal officials. Both had handcuffed federal officials. Martin hoped that they could offer information to Sheriff Evinger, who had found himself knee-deep in a very sticky situation.

Excerpts from Pioneer Press

Events to the End of 2001

On October 22, 2001, the National Academies of Science announced the makeup of a Committee established to evaluate the "science", such as it is, that has been invoked to justify the seizure of water from over 1,400 Klamath Basin farmers.

The objectivity of several of the committee members is suspect. Dr. Peter Moyle, Dr. Gene Helfman, Dr. Robert Huggett and lawyer, J.B. Ruhl have been feeding at the green troughs of the federal and academic communities for years.

The principal scientific question of interest is whether the coho or the suckers are endangered. The Committee, however, is charged by the NAS to ignore that question. Rather, the Committee is to "assess . . . the biological opinions regarding the effects of Klamath Project operations on species in the Klamath River Basin listed under the Endangered Species Act", thus assuming the correctness of the listings

The committee is expected to provide an interim report to the Department of Interior by Jan. 31, of next year. A final report by the NRC is due March 30, 2003.

Senators Wyden and Smith from Oregon have proposed a Klamath Basin Interagency Task Force charged to develop a "five-year plan" reminiscent of the commissars and their Soviet "five year plans". This plan is not charged to get more water for the farmers or even guarantee them the water which they already own. It is mostly DC talk for more bureaucratic control. Writing for People for the Usa, James Buchal says:

Looking at the Klamath Basin as one of many battlegrounds in the War on the West, one can only conclude that Senators Smith and Wyden have proposed to provide $175 million to empower the enemy. That much money can put armies of federally-funded interlopers throughout the Klamath Basin. Soon the farmers may be literally outnumbered by the folks who say "we're here from the Government, and we're here to help you". The old charge against King George will ring truer that ever: "He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance".

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a one-sentence statement late Friday saying that it would consider an appeal by a coalition of conservation groups challenging a Sept. 10 decision to delist coho by U.S. District Judge Michael R. Hogan of Eugene. Hogan had removed coho from federal protection because the National Marine Fisheries Service, he said, had "arbitrary and capriciously" treated wild and hatchery salmon differently when it protected only wild salmon as threatened. His decision sent shock waves through the Pacific Northwest, where multiple runs of salmon enjoy federal protection at public expenditure. The appeals court Friday said Hogan's ruling would be stayed until the appeal is decided.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, when it said in early November that the Bush administration would not appeal Hogan's ruling, announced that it was launching a review of federal hatchery policy. The Fisheries Service said then that it would review 23 runs of salmon and steelhead to see if they should be removed from the endangered species list. Both those reviews remain in effect

It looks like a good year for water in the Klamath Basin this year.  Snow pack is 131% of normal.  Whether the farmers get any of that remains to be seen.  So far nothing has really changed except they have stronger locks and barricades at the head gates.  There have been dozens if not hundreds of meetings along with a multitude of articles, papers, studies, and letters to the editor.  To no avail as yet.  It appears that reason does not prevail in America anymore.  Intellectual integrity, good sense, fair play and respect for private property are alien concepts to generations of power brokers raised on liberal warm fuzzy thinking and influenced by leftists that the end justifies the means.   


The Bureau of Reclamation has released a draft biological assessment for a water management strategy that give the farmers their irrigation water back.

"A preliminary water management strategy released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation today would grant significantly greater priority to farmers in the battle for water in the Upper Klamath Basin.

A draft biological assessment for the Klamath Reclamation Projectís 2002 operations states anyone who wants to use water for purposes other than irrigation, including protection of endangered fish, should buy the water from farmers.

The move by the Bureau of Reclamation, likely to draw determined opposition, represents a complete turnabout from government policy in recent years, when the highest priority for use of water was given to protecting endangered fish and meeting trust obligations for Indian tribes.

The shift in priorities more closely matches earlier water management schemes, including the 1957 Klamath River Compact, which established domestic and agricultural uses as the highest priorities."    
01/28/02  By TODD KEPPLE and ANITA BURKE    Klamath Herald and News


However, the NAS criticized this BA in it's interim study of the science involved in the Klamath water fight in a press release on 2/6/02.  On the other hand the same press release revealed that the interim report is also critical of the US Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service for witholding the irrigation from the farmers without adequate scientific evidence.

"The committee's interim report finds no clear connection between water levels in Upper Klamath Lake and conditions that are adverse to suckers."

"Based on these findings, the committee said there is no scientific basis for the Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to keep the water at levels greater than the average high between 1990 and 2000. At the same time, however, it concluded that there also is no sound scientific support for letting the lake waters drop below mean minimum levels that occurred during the same 10-year period, which would be allowed under the Bureau of Reclamation's proposal"

"Likewise, the committee said there is no scientific justification for increased minimum flows in the Klamath River to protect coho salmon, as called for by the National Marine Fisheries Service."

"On the other hand, the reduction in minimum river flows that the Bureau of Reclamation's proposal would allow cannot be justified on scientific grounds either, the committee said."

The NAS interim report can be seen at    http://www.nap.edu


This page was updated on 04/19/06

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