Federal officials close Klamath headgates to irrigation again; protesters peaceful for now

Federal officials on Thursday cut off access to irrigation water from the Upper Klamath Lake, while protesters' promises to storm the headgates did not materialize.

August 24, 2001 — Federal officials on Thursday cut off access to irrigation water from the Upper Klamath Lake, while protesters' promises to storm the headgates did not materialize.

Speaking to the protesters as armed federal officers stood by to keep the headgates closed, farmers urged those gathered not to interfere, but to redouble their efforts to win American sympathy for their plight.

Based on federal reports of endangered suckers in Upper Klamath Lake and threatened coho salmon in the Klamath River, the Bureau of Reclamation in April shut off irrigation water to 90 percent of the 220,000 acres of the Klamath Project. Farmers have forced the headgates open four times, the last time on July 4.

U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton ordered 70,000 acre feet of irrigation water released last month in hopes of quelling rising tensions, but she emphasized that the measure was only temporary.

Shortly after cutting off the supply of irrigation water at 5:10 a.m. Thursday morning, bureau personnel took apart gears to prevent the headgates from being reopened.

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