From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Senate To Vote On Wallowa Water Grab

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

Senate To Vote On Wallowa Water Grab

The Vote on S 1355RS could occur in the next few days.

Wallowa Valley In Eastern Oregon A Model for Land and Water Grabs

If you like how the Feds cut off the water in the Klamath Basin using the Endangered Species Act, you’ll love their effort to create a water lockdown in the Wallowa Valley in Eastern Oregon.

Most of the farmers, families and communities in the Wallowa Valley want to head off anything similar to the Klamath Basin before it starts.

You can make a difference in the coming Senate vote.  This is important to you no matter where you live.  What is happening in the Wallow Valley is really a road map for how certain groups are seeking land and water grabs all over the country.

In the West especially, Indian groups, watershed activists, environmental groups, Endangered Species Act advocates, fish promoters and a variety of government agencies – state and Federal - are working together to lock up your water and your land.  This is certainly true in the Wallowa Valley.

They are trying to undermine your future by gaining control over your water.  As the old saying goes, “Whoever controls the water controls the land.”

You can help 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, 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. 

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) – Phone:  (202) 224- 3753 -- FAX (202) 228-3997 --  
E-mail:  http://gsmith.senate.gov/webform.htm.
Sen.  Ron Wyden (D-OR) – Phone:  (202) 224-5244 – FAX (202) 228-2717 – 
E-mail: http://wyden.senate.gov/mail.htm

-----2.  Plan to attend the public information meeting about the Wallowa land and water grab and the government takeover.  The meeting is set for Thursday night June 24th. at 7:30 PM at the VFW Hall, 800 N. River St., Enterprise, Oregon. The featured speaker will be Chuck Cushman, Executive Director of the American Land Rights Association.   He’ll talk about tools and tactics you can use to fight extreme plans such as the Wallowa Basin takeover.  Most of the information will be easily transferable to other areas as well. 

-----3.  Set aside Saturday, June 26th to participate in a March and Rally for local control. This will be great fun and you’ll have a good time.  People will gather at the foot of Wallowa Lake (northern tip) after 8:00 AM.  The March starts at 9:00 AM and will go through the towns of Joseph, Enterprise, Lostine and Wallowa.  There will be a FREE snack lunch,  FREE buses to take you from place to place and at the end there will be a FREE barbeque.  For more information about the Rally, call (541) 432-0757 or visit www.stopthewatergrab.org

-----4.  Go to http://www.stopthewatergrab.org to download your own petition to send or e-mail back.    You can download a formatted Testimony Questionnaire by going to http;//www.landrights.org

-----5.  Call at least three other people to tell them about the threat and ask them to come to the Rally.

Land and Water Grab Background:

Why you should express your opinion about S 1355RS, called the Wallowa Lake Dam Rehabilitation and Water Management Act:

-----It involves 42 government and tribal agencies who will largely take control over what are now local decisions regarding water.  “Hi, I’m from the government and I’m hear to help you.”  For instance, there will be automated head gates installed on all water diversions controlled by people from outside the valley.

------It will use the Endangered Species Act as a tool to regulate and strangle farming and local communities by facilitating the (re) introduction of endangered species of salmon.

-----The bill takes taxpayer dollars and gives them to private dam owners who have failed to take care of the dam in the first place.  It is a government bailout that is not needed.  Pork barrel spending at its worst.

-----Sets a precedent for bailing out over 10,000 other dams in a similar category.  It creates an incentive for not spending money to take care of dams because the owners can rely on the government to bail them out.  Just one more way of squandering taxpayer deficit dollars. 

-----Gives in to hysterical talk designed to scare people into supporting a project which is not needed, yet will cause great harm to the entire valley.  The dam does need repair but that could be done for as little as $1 to $3 million, not forty plus million in taxpayer dollars.

-----Local agriculture and irrigation interests that own 75% of the irrigated land have been completely left out of the process.  In fact, denied access to the process.  If S 1355RS goes forward, it shows land and water grabbers how to grab your land without you having anything to say about it.  

-----It gives the Indians private ownership over fish facilities at the dam at taxpayer expense; and does not even to require them to pay to maintain the facilities.

-----It will likely introduce endangered or threatened species into Wallowa Lake which will lead to a whole new domino process of progressive regulation and water strangulation.

-----It sets a precedent for taking water from one watershed and transfers it to another, for the preferential benefit of fish.

-----If you allow this to happen in the Wallowa Valley, you encourage the extreme green groups, watershed advocates, fish activists and others to try it again other places.

-----It will construct a multi-million dollar pump and pipeline complex which will be used, at most, a few weeks out of the year - when there is enough water to fill the pipeline.  The planners have said what happens in the Wallowa Basin will be a model for what they want to do in many other areas.  It is also a transfer of local control to outsiders.

-----It is largely a con job.  It talks about a plan but there is no plan.  Only a “vision” document which is “a brief project summary.”  It is largely a blank check for planners.  The bill says the City of Joseph needs the dam for their water yet their water comes from the river upstream, not from the dam.  This is clearly a game of “bait and switch.”

Land use control groups are always looking for a way to gain control.  The Endangered Species Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers, Watersheds, water and any other excuse are actually tools to achieve land use control.   This dam repair and water management project is just another means to gain control of private property by controlling the water. 

Three notable examples in Oregon include:

-----1.  Many people supported the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Plan (ICEBMP) until they saw the details.  American Land Rights led the successful region wide campaign in seven states to stop the plan.  Elements of it still exist.  

Those that had supported it began to realize that bringing the government in and giving agency bureaucrats and outsiders far greater power would vastly increase regulation while reducing grazing, mining, forestry and many recreation uses in most of Eastern Oregon, Washington and Idaho.  What people saw was the devil was in the details.  

There is no written plan for the Wallowa basin.  When people finally saw the plan, it was a nightmare.   Blind faith did not work on the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Plan and it won’t work in the Wallowa Valley.

-----2.  Forty-one Oregon rivers were named official Wild and Scenic Rivers in 1988.  Senator Hatfield said that only five million board feet of timber would be lost.

Forestry associations said it would more likely be between 50 and 100 million board feet.  Not one stick of wood has been cut on any of those rivers since that time.  The courts have stopped all harvesting, ridge top to ridge top.  Now the forests are burning.  American Land Rights was brought in late and helped three rivers get out of the bill, plus many landowners and Federal land users.

-----3.  The Klamath Basin farmers came to the basin at the request of the  government.  It was a giant reclamation project.  Who stood up for the farmers and the local community when they were threatened with losing their water?  Not the government.  The fish activists, tribal leaders and environmental groups have joined together to use the Endangered Species Act to try to drive the farmers out, forcing them to lose everything they have in the process.

Though damaged severely, they have not been driven out because the community rose up and blocked the takeover.   American Land Rights members and supporters were the first at the Klamath head gates although many groups were ultimately responsible for the progress and publicity in the Klamath Basin.

Watersheds are being used as a tool all over the west to try to take control away from local communities and water user groups.  The latest and perhaps a poster child for this technique is the Wallowa Valley, its river basin and private dam.

The US Senate will vote on S 1355RS that will begin the process of the valley takeover in the next few weeks.  Maybe the next few days.  The bill has been hotlined for immediate action.  

Amazingly, it is, actually a small group of uninformed irrigators who control about 25% of the irrigated land in the Wallowa Valley who are responsible for this looming disaster.  Their group, called the Associated Ditch Co.s (ADC), actually sought government money because they did not have or would not spend the money to maintain the Wallow Lake Dam or fix the deferred maintenance that needs repair.   

It appears they are willing to sell out their neighbors, their children’s future and the future of the entire valley for a taxpayer bail out of their private dam. 

The Wallowa Lake Dam is not in danger of collapse.  It does need repair.    By continually deferring repair, the current ADC owners are creating urgency for repairs that need not have existed.

S 1355 RS has mushroomed into a huge government boondoggle with only 17% of the over $40,000,000 cost going to fix the dam.  The rest is to do all kinds of other projects that will place endangered fish in Wallowa Lake, bury water ditches, build pipelines and lockup all irrigation water access.  Amazing.  A little help with a little dam has ballooned into a giant takeover.

A few Associated Ditch Co.s (ADC) farmers may benefit financially in the short run but a giant sell out of all the other water and agriculture users is taking place in the process.  All communities in the Valley have their future in jeopardy.

Some members of the House and Senate have gotten involved thinking they were giving relief to some farmers in need, expanding endangered fish habitat and other “good things.”  Unfortunately, most of what looked good is actually VERY BAD.  

The Wallow Valley Agriculture Water Users Association represents the position of most of the landowners and farmers who own 75% of the irrigated land  in the Wallowa Valley.  They oppose this Federal takeover of the entire river basin, using dam rehabilitation as the tool. 

Local funds have been offered to repair the dam.  But the Associated Ditch Co.s (ADC) has rejected all loan offers and instead has aligned itself with various governmental and water and land grab groups who prefer  using watersheds, the Endangered Species Act and promotion of fish priorities to gain control of water and the land.  Most valley residents are being left out.

The Water Users Association and others in the community have affiliated with the American Land Rights Association in attempt to get their voice heard.   We believe it is in the interest of all land and water users that this project not go forward.  

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

Please plan to come to the rally and mail in your petition.

Also, please forward this message to your entire list.  Time is urgent.

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