From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Wallowa Valley– History in the Making:

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 
E-mail: alra@landrights.org or alra@governance.net  
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org 
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003

Wallowa Valley– History in the Making:

You can help save farmers, landowners and their families in the Wallowa Valley.
This kind of campaign is key to ALRA helping you.  Land grabbers try to divide and conquer all of us into little groups.  By helping your neighbors in the Wallowa Valley, they will be there and want to help you on your issues.  So what happens in the Wallowa is important to you.  Winning in the Wallowa Valley will build respect among elected officials so that it will be easier to fight for you later.  Teamwork and cooperation is the key.

Please read below for specific instructions on how you can help.

Wow, What a Meeting, What a March and What a Rally!

This past three weeks were historic for the Wallowa Valley in northeast Oregon.  Nearly 100 people gathered in Enterprise on June 24 at a public meeting moderated by Chuck Cushman of the American Land Rights Association, to vehemently express their views and concerns about Senate Bill S. 1355RS, the Wallowa Lake Dam Rehabilitation and Water Management Act of 2004 that sits waiting for a vote in the Senate.  

A few vocal proponents of the legislation also attended.  They came to talk, and talk they did.  Many times they nearly took over the meeting.  But Chuck's new face and moderating influence succeeded in maintaining an open forum and preventing yet another one-sided pep rally for proponents. Numerous misstatements of fact by proponents throughout the evening had to be corrected by Chuck and representatives of the local water users association.  

For nearly two years, the Wallowa Valley Agricultural Water Users Association has worked hard under challenging circumstances to research and publish a series of investigative reports.  These reports lay out all that is now known to be harmful and threatening in the proposed legislation. However, proponents' five-year ongoing effort, with its co-option of some senators, has proven a continuing obstacle to securing valley water for agriculture and future generations. The recent affiliation with Chuck and ALRA is helping to shed much-needed light and perspective on this small corner of the rural West.   

With Chuck running interference, the vast majority of those at the meeting had opportunity and were brave enough to stand up against local intimidation and say they opposed the legislation.  It was the first time that a truly open forum occurred on this contentious plan.  By the end of the evening, almost everyone had gained an expanded awareness of just how harmful S. 1355RS would be to the valley; and how similar their plight really is to other threatened communities throughout the West.

Among other things, S. 1355RS would facilitate the reintroduction of endangered salmon into Wallowa Lake and the entire Wallowa River Basin– essentially the entire valley; install automated headgates on all irrigation ditches; install an extensive and expensive pump and pipeline system that would only be used a few weeks a year; and implement a "water management plan" for the whole valley that hasn't even been written yet, with no limits on what that plan includes or who gets to write it and carry it out (government agencies, tribes, etc.)  

Proponents at the meeting admitted that in water short years, irrigators in the upper Wallowa Valley would find their limited water pre-empted by the federal government, which is being given a claim on 4,400 acre-feet every year– to do with as they please (including accumulating it in the reservoir until they consume the entire reservoir's capacity). 

Throughout the meeting, every opponent of the legislation supported repair of the dam. Their deepest concerns were over the undefined Water Management Plan portion of the legislation, which represents 83% of the cost, and encompasses all of the valley-threatening measures mentioned above. 

Proponents now claim, without engineering evidence, that the dam must be replaced. Therein lies the trap. For it is in replacement of the dam that federal involvement in valley water management is invoked. The dam can and should be repaired. How it is repaired and who pays for it is the issue.  

At the end of the meeting, no one except the project's few proponents was in favor of the legislation or the project it would fund.  Over 90% of attendees expressed vehement opposition.  Alternatives to this bloated and property-grabbing project were discussed. It was clear there are multiple, better ways to fix the private Wallowa Lake dam, without ransoming the entire valley.

Two days later, on Sat. June 26, something unique happened in the Wallowa Valley.  Never before had local citizens risen up in opposition to the local power structure and one of their pet projects.  Working cooperatively as the Coalition to Keep Our Valley Free, they had volunteered labor and materials for over two months, planning the March for Valley Freedom– building floats, getting permits, handing out petitions, selling bumper stickers, and on and on.  

They invited Mr. Cushman to join them for the big day and speak at the Rally at the end, which he did.  Foot marchers, a giant 16-ft. salmon with a farmer in its mouth (carved and painted by a local taxidermist in his barn near Joseph), many American flags flying from trucks, people (some in their 70's and 80's) riding on wagons filled with hay bales, all with marching music echoing off the mountains in the background... 

The parade, complete with sheriff escort, traveled from one end of the valley to the other, through its four towns of Joseph, Enterprise, Lostine and Wallowa.  The entire group (local and volunteer) came to rest by the river in Minam Canyon, where the fish was hung in the air by a crane, fiddles played and everyone enjoyed a barbecue on a sunny afternoon in the pine trees.  It was a grand day!

The energy and commitment continues.  A week and a half ago the Coalition's floats appeared in Wallowa's annual 4th of July parade.  The giant salmon was the highlight of the event and won an award.  Their key banner messages of "Our Valley Is More Than a Fish Story" and "We Are All Endangered" were warmly received.

As the Senate rushes to judgement before they break for the August Recess and the two party conventions, you can help your friends in the Wallowa Valley in the following ways:

-----1.  Call both your Senators at (202) 224-3121 immediately to urge them to hold up S 1355 RS for further review.  It’s called the Wallowa Lake Dam Rehabilitation and Water Management Act.  Also send them a fax and an 
e-mail.  Ask them not to rush to judgment on this land and water grab. 

Also call and fax the local offices of Senators Wyden and Smith.  Call to find out their schedule in Oregon during the August Recess.

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) – Phone:  (202) 224- 3753 -- FAX (202) 228-3997 --  
E-mail:  http://gsmith.senate.gov/webform.htm.

Bend:  (541)  318-1298 – FAX  (541) 318-1396
Eugene:  (541) 465-6750 – FAX  (541)  465-6808
Medford:  (541) 608-9102 – FAX  (541) 608-9104
Pendleton:  (541) 278-1129 – FAX  (541)  278-4109
Portland:  (503 326-3386 – FAX  (503) 326-2900

Sen.  Ron Wyden (D-OR) – Phone:  (202) 224-5244 – FAX (202) 228-2717 – 
E-mail: http://wyden.senate.gov/mail.htm

Bend:  (541) 330-9142 – FAX (541) 330-6266
Eugene: (541) 431-0229 – FAX (541) 431-0610
La Grande: (541) 962-7691 – FAX  (541) 963-0885
Medford: (541) 858-5122 – FAX (541) 858-5126
Portland:  (503) 326-7525 – FAX (503) 326-7528
Salem:  (503) 589-4555 – FAX (503) 589-4749

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) – (202) 224-2621 – FAX: (202) 224-0238 – E-mail: senator_murray@murray.senate.gov     There is an underscore between Senator and Murray.  Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – Phone:  (202 224-3441 – FAX: (202) 228-0514 – E-mail:  http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/index.html

Sen. Michael Crapo (R-(ID) – Phone: (202) 224- 224-6142 – NO FAX – E-mail: http://crapo.senate.gov/
Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) – Phone:  (202) 224-2752 – FAX (202) 228-1067 – E-mail:  http://craig.senate.gov/webform.html

For more information go to:  http://www.stopthewatergrab.org

Please take the time to help your neighbors in the Wallowa Valley fight of a threat to their water and local control.  They’ll be there for you when your time comes.

Please forward this message as widely as possible.

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