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Opposition: Airport fence desecrates Tule Lake
  Tulelake last of Modoc County air fields to construct barrier
  by LEE JUILLERAT, Herald and News 7/28/13  
     Proposals to build a fence around the Tulelake Airport are stirring opposition from Japanese-American groups and individuals who question its necessity and note it would run through the center of the World War II era Tule Lake Segregation Center.

   “The proposed fence will desecrate the physical and spiritual aspects of Tule Lake,” says a petition from the San Francisco-based Tule Lake Committee, the group that sponsors the Tule Lake Pilgrimage in the Klamath Basin every other year. “This massive fence will prevent Japanese-Americans who, while attempting to mourn their own past, will instead be assaulted with the reminder of rejection, exclusion and emotional pain.”

   During World War II, an estimated 130,000 Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of them American citizens, were sent to 10 detention centers following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Tule Lake became the only segregation center and at its peak held upwards of 18,000 people. A small portion of the camp, 44 acres of the original 7,400 acres, is designated as the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The fence, however, is  not within the park boundaries.

   The Federal Aviation Administration, at the request of Modoc County, is considering funding a fence around the Tulelake airport. Mitch Crosby, the Modoc County road commissioner who oversees airports, said the 16,000-foot long, 8-foot tall fence has an estimated cost of $360,000.

   “The final design of the fence will not be complete until after an environmental assessment is completed and the project is approved by the FAA,” Crosby said.

   If built, he said the Tulelake airport would be the last of the three Modoc County airports to have a new fence constructed. A fence at the Cedarville airport was completed in 2008 while a fence was built around the Alturas airport several years earlier. “The responsibility for the county to build a fence is to operate the airport in a safe and serviceable manner,” Crosby said. “I believe we can build a fence that improves the safety of the airport operations while minimizing the impacts to the historical significance of the location. The FAA NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process should help make that happen.”

   Nick Macy, owner of Macy’s Flying Service, which has based its agricultural services business at the airport since 1966, said the fence project began seven or eight years ago, before the national monument was created by President George W. Bush in 2008.   The flying service is one of Tulelake Basin’s largest employers with more than 35 employees.

   “This isn’t anything that came up recently,” Macy said of the fence proposal, noting that following the 9/11 terrorist attack the FAA stepped up security requirements at all airports.

   Macy emphasized the fence proposal is not intended to lessen the former detention center’s historic importance or to exclude people from touring   the site.

   “We have never denied access. We’ve always welcomed them to come to the airport,” he said of allowing visits during pilgrimages or other organized outings, although he believes there are legitimate concerns about people and or animals on the airport runway. “We want to keep people safe.”

   Macy said he is not opposed to transforming what remains of the detention center to a national park because, “The story needs to be told. We’re all in agreement on that.”

   Mike Reynolds, superintendent for the Tule Lake Unit and Lava Beds National Monument, said the fence has been an issue at all of the ongoing National Park Service workshops to develop a   15-year management plan for the Tule Lake Unit.

   “People feel passionate about it,” Reynold said, noting the NPS cannot legally take a position for or against the fence. “Our goal is to build and maintain a relationship between the local community and the Japanese-American community.”




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