Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
I want to go back
By Jacqui Krizo
Last Sunday I packed up some cameras to take a drive down in the southwest sump south of Tulelake to enjoy a rare sunny day. All along the way, from my house to the refuge, there were hawks and eagles on telephone poles, coveys of quail, deer, and geese on farmland eating leftover grain and singing to me. And most of the wildlife, except for the pheasants, seemed to pose. It was heaven on earth.
The best part was creeping along the muddy road to Henzel Camp to not scare the birds. It used to be a labor camp for farm workers. There are usually curious birds peering down at me from the big trees.
I was enjoying the silence and bird sounds and gazing at the fields remembering being a small child and having a picnic lunch under the Henzel Camp trees where mom would take lunch to dad harvesting the grain fields. He had an old Massy-Harris combine with no cab. And it was always a nice place to rest when I drove the trucks at 16.
Although there were dozens of other tracks through the mud, I decided to turn around rather than brave a really big puddle and possible get stuck. Breaking the silence, a little white pickup came crashing right through that puddle, splashing out water several yards into the air. I guess I could have made it through the puddle, but any wildlife around probably got squished or was scared by the intruder.
Uh oh. A red light came on. Out hopped an angry young government worker in a Fish and Wildlife uniform.
"What are you doing here? What are you doing here?" he demanded. "Do you know that this is a refuge!?"
"Did you know," he scolded and pointed up into my old special trees, "that this is an eagle perch?"
Phooey. He splashed much of the water out of the puddle I wanted to drive through. He shattered my daydreams of those wonderful times picnicking with my mom and dad and sister, and nerve-wracking drives in the old GI truck.
My head was sort of whirring. Gone is yesterday when: you could walk on public land and not get arrested or even paid any attention to because they were our lands, when we had no refuge cop watching from Hill Road overlook to find a criminal encroaching on sacred bird territory miles away, when you could farm one or two fields and make a modest living, when a neighbor’s handshake and word meant more than a contract, when the government represented the people, when…..
He then escorted me out of the forbidden territory that may only be driven on by government employees or farmers going directly to their fields to farm and not taking pictures, just during farm season. The only thing left in my head was an intense sadness. With a lifetime of living side by side with wildlife sometimes only yards away feasting on our crops, it was a sad feeling being scolded because the wildlife needs a place to escape from a big old white kid coming back to her favorite place. That place was an old Indian camp for hundreds of years but evidently white people scare wildlife and aren’t natural.
If I were to take up hunting again I would be permitted into many places in the refuge to shoot birds. I just wouldn’t be able to shoot pictures or sit under the big tree and daydream.
I want to go back to those days. I want to go back and have a picnic under the Henzel Camp trees.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM Pacific
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