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The cruelty in Klamath

By Tom DeWeese
web posted February 11, 2002

The cruelty perpetrated against some 1 400 farm families in the Klamath Basin of Oregon was not simply a piece of bureaucratic bungling of the Bureau of Land Management. Hidden from public view was the dark hand of the United Nations' Environmental Program and the matrix of international treaties that imposed the Endangered Species Act on this nation.

Making matters worse for those sons and daughters of World War Two veterans whose farms were rendered worthless in the name of saving the sucker fish and the coho salmon, the so-called science cited for this economic savagery was, like virtually all of that offered by environmentalists, bogus.

The Klamath irrigation project headgate and canal divide farmers and their supporters, parked at right, and U.S. Marshalls, parked at left during the standoff last year
The Klamath irrigation project headgate and canal divide farmers and their supporters, parked at right, and U.S. Marshalls, parked at left during the standoff last year

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service had claimed that the release of water for the irrigation of the Klamath Basin farms would endanger the suckerfish and coho salmon. A study by the National Academy of Sciences reveals there was no scientific justification and a study released by the National Research Council says flatly there was "no clear connection" between the water levels in Upper Klamath Lake and the well being of these fish. Meanwhile, the well being of the human inhabitants of the Basin was destroyed.

Few will trace this human tragedy sustained by American farmers to the backrooms of the United Nations, but a review of five international treaties that authorized the Endangered Species Act reveals how the US Constitution was attacked in the name of fish!

In their study of "UN Influence on Domestic Policy," authors Michael Coffman, Ph.D., and Henry Lamb, noted that the Convention on Nature Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere set the stage for laws whose stated intent was to prevent species from going extinct.

This, of course, ignores the fact that 95 per cent of all species that ever lived on the earth are extinct. Nature does not choose or favor one species over another. The UN treaty, however, requires signatories to insure "natural habitat…over areas extensive enough to assure them from being extinct." How big is that? Fifty thousand acres? A hundred thousand acres? Whole States? Whole regions of the nation? All set aside for a fish or a lynx, a bear or a coyote? How much for migrating birds?

The law opens the door to any Secretary of Interior to designate "any habitat" of a so-called endangered species off limits to the use of humans. Land restrictions of every imaginable kind can be imposed. In the case of the Klamath farmers, the answer to "saving" the suckerfish and coho salmon was to shut off the water they needed for their crops. It was water upon which their lives and their livelihood had depended for over a half century.

This is a direct attack on property rights, the very keystone of our economy. It eviscerates the Constitution's mandate that landowners be justly compensated for the loss of their property or, in this case, their water rights.

In a recent court ruling, Hage v. United States, Nevada ranchers who were denied their grazing allotments, water rights, ditch rights of way, all vital to the maintenance of their livestock, had those rights confirmed. It had taken from 1991, however, to achieve that victory. Ten years of litigation that pitted the rights of ranchers against a government determined to destroy their way of life.

These attacks on farmers and ranchers have been deemed "The war on the West" and most of the population, huddled within fifty miles of the coastline, have been largely unaware of it. However, their property rights are just as much at risk.

The directives coming out of the many UN treaties concerning the environment are being used to implement the Wildlands Project, a plan to render more than half of the US landmass a wilderness where no human can live, farm, mine, cut timber, hunt, fish, hike, or use for any reason. If you think it cannot happen, then talk to one of the Klamath Basin farmers, talk to the Hage family, talk to the countless others robbed of the rights inherent to their property.

It is foolhardy to continue under laws proposed by the United Nations. Congress needs to rescind the Endangered Species Act as lacking any basis in science, as an attack on property rights, and as a threat to the economic stability of this nation. Then the United States has to withdraw from the United Nations before its tentacles reach out to further render our Constitution worthless.

Tom DeWeese is the publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report and president of the American Policy Center. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org. (c) Tom DeWeese, 2002

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