The Stand at Klamath Falls
Report Number Six - Closed Gates and a New Bypass
By: Jeff Head, August 24, 2001
[with many photos and narrative by Sean Finnegan]
I was informed early on Thursday morning, August 23rd, that the Federal personnel had closed the headgates in Klamath around 6:30 my time. This was expected as they had announced that they would do this very thing sometime between Thursday and Friday. I had returned to Emmett, Idaho after the Freedom Day activities and had just arrived at my place of employment in Boise that morning. I immediately exited the building and began using my cell phone to contact people. I talked to several farmers and organizers regarding the situatioon. I talked to Sean Finnegan (aka "nunya bidness" on FreeRepublic). It was clear that the farmers in Klamath intended to have their rights and would not sit back and allow the water to be turned off without a response.
Some were for "going in" and taking the headgates, others were for continuing a new petiton effort for the land owners with water rights to get the Sheriff to take more direct action against the Federal personnel at the headgates. This effort is a great effort, getting those landowners with water rights in Klamath County to sign a petition and later a complaint regarding the infringement of their rights. Apparently Sheriff Evinger had indicated he would take some action if 770 signatures could be gathered. They already had over 600 that morning (this number would grow to over 1300, virtually all of the citizens with water rights in the basin in Klamath county). Other farmers and organizers and supporters wanted to get a larger bypass going around the headgates, similar to what we had done five weeks earlier.
I believed the petition idea was great, but also believed that some direct action was necessary. I advised them to see if they could get buy-in with the people that wanted to "go in" and then use their activities and "threats" to go in as a ruse, or diversion to hold the press in place while material was gathered for a bypass. We had used similar tactics to good effect five weeks earlier when we created the first bypass. I also advised them, from my perspective that the bypass put exactly the right kind of direct pressure on the government which was needed for ultimate success, and that they should get the material together and make that happen.
My major point of contact was Sean Finnegan, who had driven out to Klamath from Maryland for the Freedom Day rally and who was stepping up to the plate to be a true friend of the farmers and a source of ongoing infrmation for folks tracking things on the web. Thank God he came there and that the Spirit moved him to stay and help. That every American could sense the urgency of this cause in the same way and respond accordingly.
Information filtered in throughout the day, both by phone and by email. The gates were completely closed by 8 AM my time (7 AM in Klamath) and folks were gathering at the headgates ... the press contingent was very strong as they felt ... perhaps hoped? ... that a significant and direct confrontation would take place.
It was discretely announced to the press that at 10 AM, Stan, a local man extremely upset over the situation and a fire breather who wanted to storm the headgates would be coming to the headgates. Stan showed up. He had been interviewed by KPDQ out of Portland the previous Saturday along with myself. He backed his truck up near the entry gate, got out and began challenging the Federal personnel. He pulled a ladder out and sat it next to the entry gate, appearing to be preparing to climb over.
Several of the farmers and the organizers of the Relief efforts appeared and had direct, perhaps heated words with Stan. They convinced him to not "go in", but to wait. The press was eating it up ... but needed to be there longer as the material for the bypass wasn't there yet. Two individuals got in a row boat and rowed over to the headgates. They were filmed by the BLM Rangers, but got there and did two things. First, they handed the Rangers a "Pink Slip", symbolically firing them. Then, they requested that the BLM Rangers hand over the US Flag that was flying right side up on the government side of the fence. To everyone's surprise and to the cheers from the assembled crowd, the BLM did so and complied. These folks brought the flag back to the farmers/citizens side of the headgate with great fanfair.
Many farmers and suporters were now gathered at the headgates. The mood was somber, but expectant. I could just imagine those feelings, the anxious moments as I was remembering the events of five weeks earlier when we had put in the first bypass. I wondered, from 400 miles distant, as the reports came in, if they, like me, were sitting on pens and needles waiting for that pipe and equipment to come in.
Then, the equipment did arrive. This time the bypass would be 12" pipe, handling more than twice the volume of the earlier 8" pipe. The pipe started getting laid out again, from the pump up near the bridge over the Link River arm of the lake, down past the gate that accesses the headgate compund. I could sense the work, the effort to hurriedly put it in place as I read the reports. I knew the feeling must be the same as five weeks previously. I longed to be there with these compatriots. Apparently, Felicia, the head BLM Ranger, was going to let the pipe be placed across the "compound" again to avoid errosion and farmers went "in" to make this happen.
As the pump was primed, a difficulty arose. No, it wasn't that State Police were trying to arrest the farmers involved this time as had occurred during the laying of the first bypass. No, this time it was just functional and operational. The material used for the intake for the pump had worked well for the 8" pipe. But, for this pipe, a 12" pipe, they needed a steal intake. The pressure on the existing one collapsed it. A delay of some time was required to retrieve the proper material. While this was going on, a great thing happened, and one that marks a clear signal regarding the BLM peronnel's feeling in this. They attached an American flag to the bypass pipe which was running across the compoud which would carry water to the A Canal. A cheer went up from the crowd as this was done.
Finally, the equipment was all in place. We heard over email, the internet and the phone that the "turn on" was imminent. Then, after 6 PM, some 12 hours after the Federal government had turned off the headgate water, the pump was turned on and water began to flow into Canal A again! I am not ashamed to say that I shed tears when I heard this. The spirit of liberty reached across the interveneing miles and touched my heart ... the emotions from a few weeks ago were rekindled. LET THE WATER FLOW! The crowd was reported to be cheering wildly ... the ferderal personnel were smiling ... the water was flowing again!
While much of this was going on prior to the "turn on", Sean Finnegan had been over to the Link River Dam checking the flow there. Link River connects the Klamath Lake with the basin and ultimately forms the Klamath River. Sean found the same thing Jared and I had found some three weeks earlier. Water was flowing like crazy through the gates for that dam. Sean went further downstream and came across the first power station. The input line to that power station was leaking like a sieve. All that water down the river ... a veritable torrent. All of that water leaking onto the ground ... and none for farmers?
The following are Sean Finnegan's own words regarding what he experienced while making this field trip:
I proceeded to make my way to the Link River Dam. This leads to the the Pacificorp turbines that generate power for Pacific Power and Light. The flow from the dam was impressive.
The pipe that feeds the turbines from the lake was spouting water at an alarming rate. The riverbed was full of all sorts of birds and it looked like a jungle grown over with vegetation green as an emerald. It was there where I ran into and for Pacific Power and asked him a few questions. The power generation using the river is done only in the daytime because the suckerfish are active at night. Pacific Power has itís own biologists and they found that the water temperature is around 74 degrees and that the water is not holding oxygen well. In addition the company has installed ladders for the salmon to migrate but the salmon arenít making the trip because of the temperature and lack of oxygen. The worker also stated that that the power company workers routinely drain the river and round up the suckerfish using electric prods and put them in to buckets to return them to the lake and when they do the numbers are in the hundreds.
The electrical power being generated by the river is sent to the power grid and they had no way of knowing who used it and where.
The border to California is just a few miles away. You have to wonder where all the water is going if itís not going to the farmers.
So, another day passed in this epic stand between patriotic, hard working and law abiding farmers and a federal government caught up in the regulatory madness and tyranny that is trampling on the rights of these citizens, and is destroying their livelihood and way of life. I am SO PROUD of these people and their direct, principled and yet civil stand against an encroaching tyranny. I am humbled to know them, to be involved with them and to witness their steadfrastness and courage. God bless them, God bless all who struggle for liberty and are willing to stare straight into the eye of the tyrant and not waiver.
We cannot let this stand. What is done to them, can be done to us all. We sit back, we ignore and we avoid involvement at all of our peril.
To my friends and compatriots in Klamath I say ... LET MORE WATER FLOW! Put in another pipe every day or two ... put in bigger pipes! Get those 36" siphons going and make plain the intent to have your rights. The politicians, the policy makers, the administrators and the people used to enforce this MUST know of the resolve of committed, God-fearing and patriotic Americans to not back down and to claim their rights.