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Endangering the truth.

By C.J. Hadley

Tim Findley has been badgering me. RANGE’s quarterly frequency drives him nuts. He’s a big-time investigative journalist (San Francisco Chronicle, ABC and CBS affiliates, Rolling Stone…), used to writing a story and seeing it, often on the front page, on the following day. (The fact is we can’t afford to publish more often.)

Findley agonized over the time it took RANGE to get his major news story on Klamath into print. His story was written as 20,000 people gathered in Klamath Falls to support the farmers while the major media—with the exception of Fox News—ignored the problems. His blood pressure rose as the story developed, too late to change his feature because it was already “in the works.” But his in-depth story still holds as well as when he wrote it way back in May. (See “Betrayed by the Feds” starting on page 4W.)

On July 15 one of the latecomers to the story, The New York Times, included

an Op Ed. No facts were examined. It had an elitist attitude and an East Coast bias.

May 7, 2001, Klamath Falls, Ore. More than 20,000 people showed support for farmers.
See page 4W.

©Larry Turner

“But this is not, as right-wing critics would have us believe, a simple case of farmers vs. fish,” the Times wrote. “Nor is the Endangered Species Act to blame. The fundamental problem is that the Klamath Basin is an overstressed ecosystem in which there are too many claimants for too little water—farmers, fish, other wildlife, towns, downstream salmon fishermen…and Indian tribes whose water claims predate those of the farmers.”

The Op Ed is based on political science rather than biological science. At one point the writer claims, “…intelligent application of the law may in fact save the region by forcing the various stakeholders to devise new living arrangements…” Saving the region means finding “willing sellers in order to reduce agricultural demand for water.”

The Times believes America’s great food producers should give up their right to water and move—for a dubiously endangered fish. In the same editorial they brag about our former leader: “Early in his tenure, President Bill Clinton provided substantial help to loggers in the Pacific Northwest whose jobs began to disappear when timber sales were blocked to preserve habitat for the endangered spotted owl. The aid helped ease the region’s transition from a dying timber industry to a more broadly based economy.”

The Times should know that the spotted owl was not really endangered at all, that it did not need old growth timber to survive, that a spotted owl nest has been found in a K-Mart sign. They should talk to people in those politically destroyed timber towns about their new economy. Those loggers will tell the fiction writers at the Times where to stick their paper.

Reporter James Buchal writes from a position closer to the source. “The Klamath Basin farmers have a government problem, not a water problem,” he writes. “The fish aren’t endangered…the feds take the land now with biological opinions instead of six-shooters…. Unless and until the Klamath farmers begin to adopt the mass protest tactics of the leftists, they are destined to become more roadkill on the highway to a hellish future—centralized command-and-control mismanagement of our Nation’s natural resources.... They need to start treating their enemies like enemies, and figuring out who their friends really are. It’s time to choose sides and take a stand, not hold hands with The Nature Conservancy and sing Kumbaya.”

Findley adds, “Congress had its chance to correct the Klamath outrage in July when Oregon Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) introduced a bill to immediately reopen irrigation supplies to the Klamath Basin farmers. The bill failed by a vote of 52-48, with every Democrat in the Senate voting against it. Is that environmentalism, or political hypocrisy? The action even split California’s two senators, and practically Bay Area neighbors, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats. Feinstein didn’t vote to open the gates but helped implement a $20 million relief package for the farmers. Boxer defended her vote against irrigation by claiming “no one speaks for the endangered sucker fish.”

The short-nosed sucker, as we have reported before, is dubiously endangered. Nobody knows how many there are in Klamath Lake. Boxer and others seem to suggest to destroy these fish would be a cultural disaster to the Klamath Indian tribe. “Really?” asks Findley. “Is that what she expects today of aboriginal people? Reliance on a mud-sucking trash fish for sustenance? Is she defending their rights, or insulting Native Americans?”

In Washington and at The New York Times the truth is endangered. Democrats voted against farmers in favor of fish because they are afraid of losing big dollar “environmental” support. That’s not just stupid, it’s corrupt.

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