Report Number Thirteen - Deal with Feds at Headgate after Terror Attacks
By: Jeff Head, September 15, 2001
[With info and quotes from The Grange, SierraTimes and AuntB from FreeRepublic.]
After horrific terror attacks on The World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, and with the threat of more such attacks, due to an offer by patriotic Klamath farmers, an agreement was reached at the Klamath Headgates on September 13th. In a meeting on that date it was decided that federal officers on the scene will be phasing themselves out and the Klamath farmers would pull back behind the fence away from the headgates.
"We made an agreement with them that in light of our national emergency, we'd call a truce on this thing for right now. There are still issues, but they will have to wait." said Bill Ransom, a local businessman and member of the protest group known as the Klamath Relief Fund. "Since we're all Americans, this battle is now on hold until at least January 1, 2002. " commented Bill Oetting, a local farmer and another member of the Klamath Relief Fund.
"It certainly is a very favorable turn of events, something that Reclamation really welcomes," said U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokesman David Jones.
"What is not on hold is the effort of the Interior department to continue to evaluate this", said Larry Farrington, a federal official on the scene. "There are still issues that need to be resolved. There was no damage to the headgates." Farrington said he was satisfied.
It has been agreed that Sheriff Tim Evinger will enforce a county level no-trespass jurisdiction at the Headgates as the federal authorities vacate the area. Within about a week, there will be no federal officers on the scene.
Stranded federal officers due to lack of commercial aircraft, will work on finding their way back to their families. Some of the federal officials are searching for ways to get back to where they are needed.
Interior Secretary Gail Norton, in a special press release, made special note of the farmers’ gesture:
"My heartfelt appreciation goes out to the Klamath Relief Fund group and Klamath County officials for their cooperation and consideration in vacating the headgate area, Please be assured that diligent discussions and work to address the pressing water needs in the Klamath Basin continue."
Pete Nylander, the state supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s law enforcement agents in Oregon, echoed Norton’s appreciation.
“Their cooperative gesture has enabled service officers to respond to other issues, in some cases immediately on Sept. 13,” Nylander said.
The agreement by protesters not to trespass into the headgates area expires Jan. 1.
Asked if he would be back in January, Nylander said he hoped a solution would be in place well before then.
“We have compassion, but farmers don’t want sympathy, they want a solution. It will take a concerted effort by all the stakeholders to find solutions, and it can be done.”
The 'War Room trailer for the Klamath Relief Fund will be relocated, and all headgates phone lines will be moved to an office location to be named later.
"If we must go to war, and our supply lines get cut, we'll all need each other to keep the food supply going, and make it through the winter", said Oetting. The Klamath Organizers passed word to the officials that they require 500,000 cubic feet per second of water from the gates in order to recharge the wells in the area - in case of an emergency.
Both sides confirmed that federal officials on several levels took Oetting's request very favorably.
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