By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Calling themselves the bucket brigade, a group of Lake Earl area landowners are protesting the use of the Endangered Species Act here and in the Klamath Basin.
The Richard McNamara family, his parents and friends who belong to Friends of the Lakes and Frontiers of Freedom, are saying that the federal Endangered Species Act is taking away citizens property rights.
To protect endangered fish, the federal government recently prohibited farmers in the Klamath Basin from irrigating with nearby lake water.
McNamara said the ruling will dry up the farms, making them worthless much like what happened to local farmers whose land was flooded by rising waters of Lake Earl.
But its not the water thats the problem. Its the governments management of the water thats the problem both here and there, he said.
On Monday 1,400 farmers and about 10,000 others are planning to rally in Klamath Falls. A portion of those demonstrators will be from Del Norte County.
The crux of the whole problem is the Endangered Species Act with respect to how its implemented. The government is pushing it on us without thinking about its effect on property owners, said Helen Ferguson, who used to own 100 acres of pasture land she says is now covered by Lake Earl.
Ferguson and the McNamara family contend the lake should be breached periodically to keep it at a four-foot level. In recent years, the California Department of Fish and Game, among other agencies, has denied breach permits in order to let the lake level rise to around eight feet.
Members of the Del Norte faction of Frontiers of Freedom filled up buckets with water from Lake Earl yesterday to take to the rally in Klamath Falls.
Its as a symbolic thing, because they dont have enough water and are losing their ag businesses. And were losing our ag businesses because of too much water, Ferguson said.
The group plans to park a pick-up truck with barrels of the symbolic water in downtown Crescent City this weekend.
Our blue barrel symbolizes the past, full of freedom and opportunity.
The half-full red barrel represents the present state of the USA, where government comprises over fifty percent of the economy. Where the Endangered Species Act leaves out the needs of the people, reads a Friends of the Lakes flier about the rally.
Longtime Del Norte County landowner and farmer Jenny McNamara said she feared the government is taking away the rights of the people.
She and Ferguson said whats worse is the Federal Government encouraged World War one and two veterans to settle and create farms in the basin and is now taking the value of that land away.
After this, whats next? We want people to realize whats happening to our rights, she said.