From the May 2001 Idaho Observer:

Bucket Brigade (temporarily) turns water on for farmers

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. -- Over 20,000 people participated in a rally here May 7, 2001, in protest of the federal government's decision to completely shut off irrigation water that serves more than 90 percent of the farmers in the area. Buckets representing each of the 50 states were passed from Veteran's Memorial Park, down Main Street to Modoc Field in Klamath Falls by veterans, farmers, local citizens, and elected officials where the buckets were emptied into a dry irrigation ditch.

Frontiers of Freedom - People for the USA helped organize and sponsor the bucket brigade to support the farmers and ranchers, whose way of life is being destroyed by a federal regulatory decision pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Without any commitment to just compensation, irrigation water that serves the farmers of the Klamath Basin has been shut off. The decision is being justified by concerns for downstream flows for the “threatened” sucker fish. Yet, the weight of evidence shows that carefully planned irrigation poses no serious threat to downstream fish.

Under the ESA, once a species has been federally listed as endangered, its alleged needs must come before the needs, rights and property of individual Americans, no matter what the cost. In this case, the allegedly threatened fish takes precedence over families.

“There is no reason why we can't protect farmers and fish. Yet the Endangered Species Act, through its cumbersome command and control mechanisms, requires that fish be protected and that farmers and their families be bankrupted. That is simply wrong and we must set things right,” said George Landrith, Executive Director of Frontiers of Freedom.

“Federal bureaucrats have effectively decided that turning farms and ranches in Southern Oregon into a depression era dust bowl is good for the environment, good for wildlife and fish and good for people. It doesn't take much to see how wrong they are. It is time to face the truth -- the Endangered Species Act does not work and cannot be fixed by adding a few words or moving a couple commas. We must start over and build from scratch a new law that actually protects endangered species and at the same time preserves constitutional rights and the dignity of people,” said Landrith.

The tri-county Klamath Basin produces $100 million annually 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.

This will cause economic devastation to the area. Even local schools are already preparing for dramatic budget cuts.

Ric Costales, president of the Frontiers of Freedom's Pacific Region, said, “We call upon Congress to recognize that, while sucker fish are important, people are more important. Current law has it backwards. It is time for a new conservation approach that values wildlife and people and our constitutional liberties.”

Speakers at the Rally included Senator Gordon Smith; Congressmen Greg Walden and Wally Herger; George Landrith and Ric Costales of Frontiers of Freedom; and a host of state and local elected officials.

CONTACT: Jason Wright,Ph: 703-527-8282, email:

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