Klamath Basin Water Theft

Klamath Basin water is still in hot dispute. In April of 2001, the greatest water theft in history took place in the Klamath Falls Basin. This theft was conducted by the Federal government on the pretense of saving the “endangered” sucker fish for the Klamath Tribes. After speaking to a member of a tribe who was not in agreement with this theft, I found that the sucker fish is not one that the tribe normally eats, but instead, is used as bait because it is unpalatable. The sucker fish also requires low water levels, not more water as the Federal government states. This “endangered” sucker fish was also considered a pest in the 1960s:

In the case of the sucker, the government itself holds the smoking gun. After a poisoning campaign in the 1960s, it’s a wonder there are any suckers left. At that time, the state of Oregon embarked on an eradication campaign to poison several lakes to rid them of the sucker, then considered a pest. Even poisoning could not eliminate the sucker, yet the government now claims the difference of a few feet in lake elevation could spell doom for the sucker. (LINK)

What happened in 2001 resulted in family farms going dry, and people going bankrupt and losing their homes. Dry fields could be seen for miles while driving down the road. The farmers that survived the crisis got water, but the dispute is still going on. It is not over by a long shot. The Klamath Tribes council is calling for almost all of the Klamath Basin water to be under their direction even though there is no tribal reservation, and the Federal government is backing the plan. 

Save the Family Farm

Maxine Kizer and her neighbors have been minding their own business tending their farms and ranches for generations. Now the Federal government and the local Indian Tribes have decided they need all the water because they intend to “reserve” the water for hunting and fishing rights for the now non existent Indian reservation, which was created 140 years ago. Never mind the fact that both the Indian Tribe and the Federal government actually aggressively promoted the development of irrigated agriculture in this 140 year interim. Armed with millions of our tax dollars they have now set out to destroy Maxine and her neighbor’s life. But it is not just Maxine’s American dream at stake, if they are successful here, Indian Tribes across the country will be able to demand all the water, even threatening municipal supplies for our cities.

The success of this plan spells disaster for not only the Klamath Basin family farmers, but for all family farmers, as it will be a precedent. Without locally grown produce and animal feed, we will be even more dependent on imported food at a much higher price. This will also open the door for multinational corporations to infiltrate our agricultural community with more GMO products. To read more about this crisis and what you can do about it, go here: (LINK

© 2008, Barbara H. Peterson

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