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Public meeting discussing Japanese lawsuit to shut down Tulelake
Meeting Notes by KBC News 2/28/16
Nearly 60 concerned locals, mostly farmers, ranchers and local businesses, gathered at the Newell airport January 25th at a public meeting discussing the lawsuit by the Japanese to shut down our airport. Modoc County County Road Commissioner Mitch Crosby led the meeting.
Maintenance of the airport, including construction of a safety fence, is necessary to keep the airport approved by the FAA. However the Japanese Tule Lake Committee, www.tulelake.org , has sued to prevent the airport from being functional. They have a 'Stop the Fence' Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StopTheFence?fref=ts
According to Crosby, the City of Tulelake owns this land for the Tulelake airport. If the airport discontinues to be used as an airport, it returns to the Federal Government. He said the Japanese Tule Lake Committee (TLC) wants to shut down the airport, and the County wants to keep it open. The TLC wants to see 'open land' when they visit the WWII former Japanese relocation camp site.
After the 9-11 terrorist attack, plus the imminent danger to airplanes from animals on the runways, FAA / Federal Aviation wants a security fence built around the airport. Cedarville and Alturas airports have already built their fences. FAA is primarily responsible for the advancement, safety and regulation of civil aviation. Building the fence could give Federal environmental clearance for our airport.
When asked why we were involved in stakeholders meetings, Crosby said that FAA required stakeholder meetings be held, and said FAA found Udall Foundation US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. He said they want consensus by the "stakeholders" and that they claim to be a "3rd party neutral." There will be five to seven stakeholder meetings. Crosby said the institute compiles everyone's comments.
Steve Jacques, Modoc County Deputy Road Commissioner, said there is a yearly Tulelake Airport plan to seal joints in the runway, and there are several safety maintenance projects.
A question was asked: who are
the "stakeholders" in the stakeholder process.
The initial list of
Stakeholders included these 12 groups:
Craig Bettandorf, son of WWII veteran and Tulelake homesteader, said the Tulelake Airport has conducted many rescue operations since the '50s, and many emergency landings occur, such as when the Klamath Falls airport is fogged in. It held Red Cross fund raisers, like airplane rides in the early 60's, and there was a flying club.
People from the audience praised the public service that Macy's Flying Service has done for our community, like donations to 4-H and FFA, extra curricular activities, and the horse show at the Tulelake fair for over 60 years, besides providing many jobs for area residents.
John Prosser, also son of a WWII veteran and Tulelake homesteader, told more about their search and rescue missions, Fish and Wildlife bird counts using the airport, and said there is no way we can farm without the services of the Tulelake airport.
Tulelake Mayor Hank Evinger said the airport is part of Tulelake's emergency response plan.
A person in the audience said that the Japanese Tule Lake Committee / TLC wants the airport gone, so tries to stop all maintenance including a safety fence. Cows and horses on the runway would be a problem. Their plan is to take over all the land where the old temporary camp was. The NPS put a fence up last fall securing their property. They TLC believes it was racist for the valley of WWII veteran homesteaders to put an airport where their temporary camp used to be.
Siskiyou County Supervisor said that their board voted to support the airport: Letter from Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors to Modoc County Board of Supervisors
Larry Whalon, Superintendant of the National Park Service / NPS at Lava Beds National Monument, said that the Japanese have already secured 33 acres to showcase the historic segregation center. They will release to the public their management plan by late summer.
It was explained by Whalon later at a 'stakeholder' meeting that the Peninsula Plateau is part of the Tule Lake Unit, WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument, owned by Fish and Wildlife Service / FWS, and managed by the NPS.
"Three areas make up the Tule Lake Unit. They all play a role in interpreting the history of the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during WWII. These three areas are:
*A portion of the original
Tule Lake Segregation Center (37 acres) in Newell, CA
It has been mentioned that the Peninsula was a sacred site for Native Americans, and is also sacred for this valley of veterans who have been going upon the mountain to pray and annually held their Easter Sunrise Service for 3/4 of a century, and looked out their windows to see the present cross erected by sons of WWII homesteaders. Locals could drive up there any time, worship their God and just enjoy the scenery. Presently people hiking on this land that was formerly Bureau of Reclamation "Public Land" are being forbidden access and given heavy fines. So there are bad feelings by the decedents of WWI and WWII survivors that this local sacred site, the Peninsula, has been given to commemorate only the Japanese, especially with the current lawsuit to shut down the airport.
There were no views presented at the January public meeting that supported the Japanese shutting down the Tulelake Airport, since it's services are essential to survival of the tri-county, bi-state communities.
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