Klamath tribes spoke truth to power at an anti-Endangered Species Act (ESA) rally and hearing today, July 17, 2004, in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Klamath River issue has been the most contentious Western water struggle of the last ten years with rallying from right-wingers and massive fish kills of native salmon shaking the communities of Southern Oregon and Northern California.
Klamath tribes spoke truth to power at an anti-Endangered Species Act (ESA) rally and hearing today, July 17, 2004, in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Klamath River issue has been the most contentious Western water struggle of the last ten years with rallying from right-wingers and massive fish kills of native salmon shaking the communities of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Members of the Klamath tribes and coastal fishermen have long fought for more water for Salmon, but some water users think the solution is to take away all legal protections for Klamath Salmon and Suckers. Allen Foreman who chairs the Klamath Tribes said at the end of the hearing, "Don't forget that were people here before the Klamath irrigation project."
As a response to one-sided testimony, native tribes and environmental supporters from throughout the Klamath region converged upon the Ross Ragland Theater. Over 150 people marched in a procession through downtown before overwhelming a Republican rally that included its own cavalry, giant bucket, and loaded logging truck. The parade and rally included native drumming and singing along with a march. They urged Republican lawmakers to consider the economic and cultural impacts of salmon extinction to all the downriver and Native American communities and remember that they are people too. Locals cannot seem to remember the last time native people and environmentalists rallied together in Klamath Falls in such numbers.
At the event, Republican lawmakers spoke and received testimony mainly from local irrigators and wise-users whom complained the ESA has hurt them economically. In the testimony only one representative from the five tribes of the Klamath River and one fisherman were invited to speak. Retired farmer Dave Carmin from Chico California said that the Endangered Species Act is a "tool to destroy rural America."
Several Western Republican lawmakers stated opposition to the ESA. Representative John Doolittle said "Look what happened to the logging industry since these phony concepts like spotted owls."
Not all who attended the day's events agreed with the Republican lawmakers. "You know there are some people who are really trying to do some good things to help resolve the water conflict in this basin," said Pety Brucker who lives down river in the Salmon River Community. "It's a shame when some of the more extreme factions hijack their message and promote polarization for their own political purposes. What we need instead is de-polarization so that we can build the trust needed to develop a whole basin solution that includes everyone: tribes, farming, fishing, agencies, environmentalists, academia, and others."