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Momentum grows for May 29 tractor convoy event

A federal judge in San Francisco earlier Friday sided with local water users and the federal government, one week before thousands of farmers, ranchers and business owners plan to rally for their cause in the Klamath Basin, according to a news release.

Judge William Orrick of the U.S. Court for the Northern District of California indicated that he would deny an emergency motion filed by the Yurok Tribe and environmental organizations last week. The Yurok Tribe filed a case under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) last July. The parties agreed to stay the case in March 2020 after the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) agreed to an Interim Operating Plan for the Klamath Project to be applicable until September 2022.

Those parties also asked the Court for a temporary restraining order to require Reclamation to release an additional 391 cubic feet per second for flows below Iron Gate Dam — an amount that is over two times what is currently flowing into the Klamath Project A Canal headgates. Judge Orrick concluded the hearing by indicating he will deny the Yurok Tribe’s motion to lift the stay and will not reach the motion for a temporary restraining order.

“This decision does not add water to the meager allocation we were promised earlier this month,” said Scott Seus, a Klamath Project farmer from Tulelake. “However, it does prevent an immediate interruption of the reduced supply we already have.”

In the meantime, local community leaders have made significant progress preparing for next week’s planned water rally. Supporters have responded to event organizers’ “Call to Unity” to join a water rally on Friday, May 29. A planned two-hour tractor convoy will start at 10 a.m. next Friday in Merrill. The route will wind its way through Klamath Project farmlands, proceed down Klamath Falls’ Main Street and end up in a local farmer’s field near Midland.

“The response from our local community and beyond has been tremendous and very uplifting,” said Bob Gasser, a local businessman who is helping to organize the event. “The local farming and business community is energized, and people are really stepping up to volunteer.”

Farmers and ranchers from throughout California and Oregon are also planning on participating, as are other organizations’ advocacy groups like Timber Unity.

The convoy route has been finalized. Federal, state, and local elected officials are being contacted and have committed to participate, and event organizers are planning on one thousand vehicles participating in the convoy. The rally will end in a local farmer’s field, where vehicles will park, and each driver will plant a symbolic white cross in the ground. Organizers are working to secure a slate of speakers who will make brief remarks to wrap up the event. Measures will be taken to encourage proper social distancing at the event.

“Materials have been donated to construct the crosses and make signs, and many local businesses and individuals have pulled out their wallets to help support this effort,” said Seus.

A Go Fund Me account has been created to allow others to contribute to this cause, as well. It can be accessed on the Shut Down and Fed Up Facebook page. More information on the event can also be found on the convoy website: https://shutdownfedup.org/convoy-for-change/. Event organizers are asking that residents show their support for local farmers by joining the rally at the lineup to start the convoy in Merrill. Alternatively, supporters can join the convoy as it passes through downtown Klamath Falls later in the morning.



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