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Liz Writes Life 1-3-17

Klamath Project - BOR, Klamath River & Dams, Liz Writes Life

Jan. 3, 2017

Liz Writes Life

Published in Siskiyou Daily News, Yreka, CA

It has taken 15 years, but a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge got it right. Judge Marilyn Blank Horn concluded the federal government did indeed take Klamath farmers legal property right – water – in 2001.

Early in 2001, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rendered a Biological Opinion that the sucker fish in the Upper Klamath Lake would suffer harm, if the Bureau of Reclamation supplied the legal water to the federal Klamath Project farmers. The local sucker fish were and are listed with the Endangered Species Act. (Counter to modern myth — the 1996 federal ESA listing of coho salmon was not part of this Biological Opinion. It was all about sucker fish.)

So, the BOR stopped all irrigation water to Klamath Project farmers in April 2001, which is over 200,000 acres of farm land. The dry A Canal also did not deliver water to many off-project or other property owners. As a result of the Klamath Project farmers losing their water, the lower refuges also went dry affecting and killing 1,000s of birds and wildlife. It was tremendous devastation.

Locals said that suckers thrive better in lower levels of lake water. The feds ignored their voices. We could see that the science of the government bureaucrats was fraudulent.

Guess what, within a few years scientists had to admit sucker fish populations were decreasing and it was because there was too much water in their lakes. Ugh!

It is so frustrating to watch government agencies with their bureaucrat leadership get it wrong and destroy communities of humans and wildlife in their arrogance. But, I have digressed.

So the 1,400 Klamath Project farmers went the entire spring, summer and fall with no irrigation water. There were several suicides by farmers. About 200 farms were lost or sold. Other businesses floundered and 1,000s of employees had to migrate elsewhere.

I asked Ray Haupt, our Dist. 5 Siskiyou Co. Supervisor, about this decision and he was thrilled. “It is the first time I have seen a judge rule in favor of property rights over the ESA regulations,” he said. “The feds tried to argue it was a ‘regulatory takings,’ but this decision shows it is a ‘property takings’ under the 4th Amendment.”

So, this is a win of immense proportion and there will be a trial to decide how much money the farmers will be compensated. Yay!

Ray said the decision is extremely significant, because this decision will set a precedent at the federal appellant court level. Yep, the water to the Klamath Project farmers is a property right and even the ESA cannot take property rights away from citizens.

I consider the takings of the Klamath Project water as a threat from the federal agencies and that they were testing to see how far they could go to put fear into the hearts of the farmers, other property owners and businesses. It is all about control of the people. We must be vigilant to make sure our government agencies serve the people and do not become the tyrant over the people.

On May 7, 2001, more than 18,000 people showed up in Klamath Falls forming a mile-long Bucket Brigade protest through town. I believe California Congressman Wally Herger was the first to fill a bucket from the waters of Lake Elwha. The buckets were then handed from one-individual-to-another up the streets to the bridge over the wide A Canal, where the water buckets were dumped into the empty A Canal. It was illegal for that canal to carry any water. I was there. Many from Siskiyou County went to support the Bucket Brigade. I have photos. No, Federal marshals did not arrest us, but it was a meaningful act of defiance and civil disobedience, which is legal under the U.S. Constitution.

Hooray for the Klamath Bucket Brigade. All who participated were right!

New laws

Believe it or not, 900 new laws have gone into effect Jan. 1, 2017. Last year, the CA. State Legislature sent Gov. Jerry Brown 1,059 pieces of legislation. He signed 898 of those bills, vetoed 159 and two became law without his signature. I have a sneaking hunch that many of us are outlaws and don’t even know it! No, it’s not funny!

A few weeks ago, I discussed the new assault gun and ammunition laws. I will mention a few more new laws that might affect us.

Bathrooms

North Carolina waged a war over restrooms and gender identity, but California did not have that fight as the legislature approved AB 1732. It requires all single-toilet bathrooms in businesses and public agencies to be gender neutral. So you can be whatever!

Cell phones

This is a big one and pretty darned specific. While driving a vehicle you are no longer permitted to hold a wireless telephone or electronic wireless communication device. It must be mounted in the 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver (so no fair grabbing it and cheating) or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver. Sorry, I don’t get either one of these. Another option is to affix the device to the dashboard in a place that does not obstruct the driver’s clear view and does not interfere with the deployment of an airbag. Guess we better get those Bluetooth devices!

Oh, the law does allow a driver to operate one of these devices with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the finger, but you can’t hold it.

Booze

I have just learned there is such a thing as powdered alcohol and it can be reconstituted using water. Wonder what would happen if it was reconstituted with alcohol? It has already been banned in 31 states and it is now illegal to possess, sell or make in California.

Liz Bowen is a native of Siskiyou County and lives near Callahan. Call her at 530-467-3515.

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