The Stand at Klamath Falls
Eyewitness Accounts of Actions at the Headgates and their Impact
By: Jeff Head - July 13, 2001 through The Present
[LAST UPDATED - June 2008]

In April, 2001, a Federal Judge ruled in favor of a frivolous and flawed biological opinion put forth on behalf of the Endangered Species Act stating that the sucker fish in Klamath Lake required protection. In response to this, the Secretary of Interior, Gale Norton, appointed by President George W. Bush, made the decision to address the Judge's decision by cutting off ALL irrigation water to 90% of the farmers in the Klamath Basin, a number representing 1400 farming families in two states.

The farmers have deeded rights to the irrigation water which attach to the irrigated land as an "appurtenance". In plain English, the farmers who own land in the Klamath Basin irrigated by Klamath Lake, own the irrigation water rights. Klamath Lake was built in the early 1900's specifically for irrigation and the project was supposed to revert to the farmers ownership when the construction costs were paid for. The costs were paid off, but the government never ceded over the project. Many of these families are veterans who were asked to homestead the land and farm it. They have deeds signed by Presidents of the United States.

They organized and petitioned their government, they held a rally in May where 20,000 people asked for the decision to be reversed. All to no effect, no water flowed in May or June. The families became desparate. In late June, a single individual opened one headgate. The Bureau of Reclamation immediately closed it. A July 4th rally protesting that resulted in the gate being opened again. The government sent two US Marshals to insure the gates stayed closed. Later that week, a vote in the U.S. Senate to reverse conditions was defeated. With no relief imminent, with financial ruin at the door and with their rights being trampled by the government that should have protected them ... a few couragous farmers acted. What follows are eyewitness and particpant accounts of the actions of these farmers and their supporters.

Week 1 Jul 12-15, 2001 Farmers Open Gates, Feds Take Gates Back, Farmers Pump Water Around Feds
Week 2 Jul 20-25, 2001 Farmers harass Feds, BOR Official appears at headgates, Sheriff revokes request fo Feds
Redfield Speech Jul 28, 2001 Speech by Klamath Police officer, Lt. Redfield, at the head gates.
Boise Stop Aug 16, 2001 Boise, Idaho Stop for Klamath Relief Convoy originating out of Nevada
Report 3 Aug 18, 2001 Preparation for arrival of Convoys, Experiences at the headgates
Report 4 Aug 19-20, 2001 View of Lake Klamath, Interviews with Sheriff, BLM Official and with Jeff Head
Freedom Day Aug 21, 2001 Convoy & rally downtown, Placing the courthouse bucket, Fairground speeches (Helen Chenowith-Hage)
Report 6 Aug 23, 2001 Feds close headgates again, Farmers create another bypass to the headgates
Report 7 Aug 26, 2001 Interview with suspended Klamath Police officer Redfield
Report 8 Aug 29, 2001 Farmers Breach the Federal Headgate compound
Report 9 Aug 30, 2001 The Word is Spreading and number of Federal guards increased.
Report 10 Sep 3, 2001 Farmers install first 10" siphon Bypass to headgates, Barbara Martin Served Restraining Order.
Report 11 Sep 5, 2001 Barbara Martin/Stan Thompson hearing in Eugene.
Report 12 Sep 7, 2001 Barbara Martin interview on Roger Fredinburg show, 9/5/01.
Report 13 Sep 14, 2001 Patriotic Farmers make deal with Feds after Terrorist attacks.
Report 14 Feb 20, 2002 Bureau of Reclamation & National Acadamy of Science reports support Farmers in 2002!
Headgates Open! Mar 29, 2002 Government opens headgates! Water is flowing!
Water Flows Again! Apr 1, 2003 New A Canal Headgate opens on schedule. Water is flowing!
Shutdown Avoided Jun 25, 2003 Burea of Reclamation threatens immediate shutdown, Washington DC reverses it the same day!
Status/Summary February 2006 A Status and to-date Summary by Jeff Head


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