Response to President Bush's State of the Union Address
January 20, 2004
Mr. President, I would like to respond.
We are irrigators in the Klamath Basin.  Yes, we agree with your words ... they bring light and hope. But, your statement won't leave my mind: "I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom.  And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again."

It brings my thoughts to another statement by a neighbor in 2001 when our stored water was taken away from farms and refuges. 

Velma Robison, a WWII homesteader's wife, stated, "April 6, 2001 was as infamous to the people of Tulelake as December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, was to the citizens of the United States." 

I remember Aline Terry, 80 year-old WWII homesteader's wife, calling me crying because she feared having to slaughter their cattle herd of 50 years because the pasture and alfalfa were dying and the cattle were starving. I remember sitting in my car crying as over 100 unemployed farmers drove their tractors down the streets of Klamath Falls as their crops died and pastures withered. 

I remember a Hispanic man, a Klamath Basin resident of over 20 years, crying, wondering what he and his people would do, and where they would go. 

I remember the auctions. 

I remember my elderly neighbors standing at the fence by the headgates, with armed marshals keeping them from the wheel that they could turn to keep their fields from dying. 

I remember my friend telling about her husband's suicide, because without water on farms, there is no life. 

I remember 90-year-old Nellie Takas going without well water for a few weeks because over 100 domestic wells went dry from the empty canals and pumping our groundwater excessively. 

I remember the day the National Academy of Science interim report, and also the final report, came out saying that the WATER SHUTOFF WAS NOT JUSTIFIED. We rejoiced ... justice at last!    

And today I see, once again, the total disbelief as your government agencies are taking our water, pouring our stored irrigation water into the ocean.  And they are using the same false science that shut down our farms and refuges in 2001.    

Tonight I attended a meeting in Fort Klamath. You should have seen the fear and disbelief in the eyes of these farmers and ranchers whose land is surrounded by National Forest.  This public forest may be given to the Klamath Tribes again, encouraged by your Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs, The Tribes  told us they want to shut down backroads, let fires burn naturally, downsize agriculture, and claim all of our water -- that is in their constitution. 

Tonight this same group was being told that a group, Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust, is trying once again to rent water from our local ranches, dewatering our fields and destroying our cattle industry, using the same false science hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that, 'unjustified,' shut down our community in 2001. 

Is this not tyranny?    

And today we are being told that if we do not pump our aquifer and let fields go dry, the Klamath Project will be shut down again to achieve artificially-elevated lake levels for an endangered fish that your agencies refuse to count. 

Those who do not call it blackmail call it extortion.  

Mr. President, we still raise our flags.  We still pray.  We still have hope. 

Actually, I think most of us believe that if you really knew what was happening here in the Klamath  Basin -- the land grabs and agricultural downsize regarding our water -- that you would not allow this to happen. 

We do want to believe in you, but your agencies and bureaucrats are making it very, very difficult.  

Again, like you said, "I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom.  And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again."


Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Fighting for Our Right to Irrigate Our Farms and Caretake Our Natural Resources