Tule Lake Committee re-files airport fencing
Herald and News by Lee Juillerat 4/13/17
A second lawsuit against Modoc County was filed recently by
the Tule Lake Committee (TLC) over an ongoing dispute about
fencing the Tulelake Airport.
The TLC claims
in the suit that erecting a fence around the airport
violates a state environmental law that protects historic
places. The airport is within the former World War II Tule
Lake Segregation Center, where more than 12,000
Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of them United States
citizens, were incarcerated.
a TLC spokeswoman, said the site “needs protection from an
airport whose planned expansion would cause irreparable
damage to this historic site. Tule Lake is unique as the
only War Relocation Authority concentration camp that was
converted into a maximum-security segregation center.”
The TLC sued in
July 2014, and re-filed the suit in an attempt to compel
Modoc County to review the World War II resources, both
surface and sub-surface, that remain in the Tulelake airport
site. The suit asks Modoc Superior Court to compel Modoc
County to comply with the California Environmental Quality
Act (CEQA), a state environmental law that protects
environmental resources, including historic places, from
damage by governments before the extent of the damage is
studied and documented.
“The goal of
the court action is to ensure the county studies and
documents, in advance, the airport’s impacts on the historic
fabric of this nationally significant place,” Takei said.
officials previously said the fence is required by the
Federal Aviation Administration to prevent wildlife from
going onto the airport runway and possibly colliding with
airplanes. The airport is leased to Macy’s Aviation and is
used for agricultural crop dusting, a vital aspect of the
region’s economy. The city of Tulelake, which is located in
Newell in Siskiyou County, owns the airport land and leases
it to Modoc County to operate the airport.
issue has created ill feelings between the TLC and Tulelake
Basin residents, and have impacted ongoing planning efforts
to develop the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in
the Pacific National Monument. The Unit does not include but
is adjacent to the airport.
Takei said the
lease was due to expire in October 2014. In January 2014,
Modoc County Supervisors voted to extend the lease by 30
years. The TLC asked Modoc County to survey the Tulelake
airport property for historical impacts first, before
extending the lease. The county, according to Takei, ignored
the TLC’s request and approved the 30-year lease extension.
In July 2014,
the TLC’s attorney, Susan Brandt Hawley, who Takei says is
an expert on CEQA and historic preservation, filed a court
petition seeking Modoc County’s compliance with the mandates
of CEQA. The county rescinded the 30-year lease extension,
then approved a new 30-year lease extension without
Takei, over the past 18 months, multiple government and
community stakeholders have discussed how to reconcile the
airport’s plans with its location on an historic civil
rights site. During these stakeholder discussions, managed
by the Udall Foundation, the parties agreed to suspend the
legal action against the 30-year airport lease extension.
The stakeholder discussions ended without resolution, and
the agreement ended March 30.
petition filed the same day alleges “approval of a long-term
lease extension is a project subject to CEQA” and that it
“may result in significant impacts to historic resources of
national importance and to immediate surroundings such that
the significance of such resources would be materially
impaired.” It also requests a restraining order to prevent
any actions that would further construction projects at the
Tulelake Airport while the petition is pending.
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