Rally in northern California town aims to counter recent movement to enact long-term water plan for river basin, led by far-right factions.
When an agreement to finally remove four dams on the Klamath River in Oregon was announced earlier this month, it was largely greeted with broad approval in both Oregon and northern California, where citizens had been frustrated by the refusal of Congress to fund the removals as part of a Klamath Basin water accord that had been negotiated previously.
Everyone, that is, except the conservative and often far-right elements that have embroiled themselves in Klamath water issues since the turn of the century. They appear now to be organizing themselves around the fight to stop the removals from going forward.
Last week, a small gathering of self-described “Patriots” brought protest signs and a petition to the Siskiyou County Court House in Yreka, Calif., claiming that the new agreement was “null and void”.
Many of the speakers and participants argued that the original agreement – which had guaranteed water access to ranchers and farmers while also removing the dams, so that salmon runs could be restored to the upper reaches of the river – should never have been agreed to, and that Congress was right to refuse to fund it. They claimed that federal and state authorities who arranged the dam-removal agreement had no right to do so.
Among the activists promoting the event was Debbie Bacigalupi, a conspiracy theorist with a history of promoting claims that the United Nations is plotting to overthrow American democracy through its “Agenda 21” program.
Bacigalupi has been heavily involved recently in efforts by anti-Indian groups to repeal Native American treaty rights. She gave a speech last summer in Montana on how “Agenda 21” is part of a plot to use Indian water rights as part of a scheme to destroy state governments and federalize everything, including natural resources. She has described Agenda 21 as “communistic history in the remaking … [b]ut in America” and “a demonically inspired dynamic.”
In a video interview posted on YouTube, Bacigalupi says:
I think it’s a dam scam, as this sign says, and I think that it is an Agenda 21 method on how to control all people. If you remove these dams, destroy them, you are going to hurt ranchers and farmers who provide people with not only food but also livestock byproducts – you’re going to hurt economies, recreation that exists on the river. You’re gonna hurt this area because when we have catastrophic wildfires, where are they gonna get the water to put these fires out? There’s no irrigation, the recreation, the recreation economy, all these benefits of that renewable water, which is why it’s called renewable, because we use it over and over again – it’s really a tragedy, and it’s government-imposed.
The event was also heavily promoted by antigovernment “Patriots” involved in organizing the “State of Jefferson,” a proposed 51st state carved out of northern California and southern Oregon. That movement has become closely associated with Patriot activity in the region (it has its own militia), and a number of its members were participants both in the attempted standoff with federal authorities at the Sugar Pine Mine in Grants Pass, Ore., as well as at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover this winter.