So, the hammer finally, officially fell on the Klamath Basin. Oh, the year 2020 makes it sound somehow less final to most, but the end result is the desired result: The people of the Klamath Basin and their honest, proud way of life are soon to be gone, swept away on the utterly false premise-current that fish cannot live and thrive with dams.
In the timeframe of eternity, the Klamath Project and its young, idealistic, war veterans-turned-farmers are slated to be but an eyeblink. The lotteries that awarded winners the right to fight and scratch and bleed their way to having their own farms, with water guaranteed 'forever,' must have been little more than a cruel hoax.
What could the faraway benevolent government possibly have had in mind but the prosperity of its working class people? Didn't 'forever' mean 'forever?' If ever there was a binding agreement, the youthful lottery winners thought they had it: The right to water forever, the use of which would coax from the land a plethora of crops that still boggle the mind and delight the palate. Yet today, new crops and varieties of others are developed and tested in the Klamath Basin, not the least of which is the Klamath Pearl, a beautiful little spud with a magnificent texture and even better taste: A gourmet's dream come true.
What, indeed. Looking from afar at the Klamath Project, the farmers and irrigators and the private property that was theirs through the blood, sweat and tears equity of five generations, was a small group of obscenely powerful bankers with names European. They wanted the land, all right, but they had no intention of actually earning it. No. They'd "award" it by lottery to returning American soldiers and their new brides -- youth with the bloom still on and the energy and dreams to invest willingly ... yea, eagerly ... in the high mountain valley of the Klamath.
From Midland, Dairy, and Lorella in Oregon to Newell in California, people live and die here. They are born and bred here. They grow strong and honest and they love here.
They, unlike the politicos in the distant not-even-a-state "District of Columbia," are part and parcel of this great Klamath Basin ... but they are what make it great.
Without its people, the Klamath Basin is but another empty land. The vast, sky-darkening migrating flocks need not stop here if the crops are no more. Look closely and you will see ... the sandhill cranes weep, and the fish are crying.