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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.


Don't sell public lands

The Klamath Tribes already have more rights than all of us other U.S. citizens: all-year hunting rights (where is the game?).

Their tribal ancestors chose not to hunt during fawning and calving seasons. The Tribes also have fishing rights, free medical and dental, and casinos.

The Tribes say they want to maybe "buy" the Winema/Fremont National Forests back - (with government money?), but I don't believe the public would be a "willing" seller. And, whose rules would they follow if they did get it back? The forest practice rules? Who would enforce those rules? If the public doesn't understand what a sovereign nation is, they better look it up before we lose our public lands (not after the fact).

The Tribes suggest they would continue to allow all the access we now enjoy (according to tribal rules not even written yet). The Tribes can change those rules anytime they want, and we (the public) would have absolutely no input in the matter. So the promises made during their negotiations they are now working on would be worthless. And unenforceable, too.

Oregon is doing quite well this year (real estate selling higher than ever before), and if the Tribes get 695,000 (or 731,000 acres - they keep changing it), I estimate real estate prices would go into the toilet, because many of the people who are buying property in this area are doing so because of the National Forest.

So, unless the public wants the Tribes to have the forest back, do something about it. Tell your congressmen, senators, neighbors, friends and anyone you know (from any state who come here to visit, camp, hunt or fish) who enjoy the outdoors, not to allow the government to sell, trade, or transfer any public land to any Tribe (or anyone else for that matter) without a public vote. I would feel the same way about a timber company buying it out - any new owner could lock us out.

If the government decides to give, sell or trade the public land back to the Tribes, the government should have to purchase all private property (at an agreeable price to the sellers) that would then be located inside the boundaries of the "reservation" (if those people want to sell).

There would be lost property taxes. Tribes don't pay property taxes, so if they got the forest back, Klamath and Lake counties would lose property taxes. Where would the lost revenues come from? And, more lost revenue for hunting and fishing because U.S. citizens cannot hunt or fish on a reservation. We could also lose the tourist trade, because who would want to come here if you can't enjoy the national forests and streams?

I have a suggestion: If the Tribes have enough money to "buy" all those acres, why not invest it in more property around the casino, build a "destination resort" right next to the world-class Williamson River with a hotel, RV park, swimming pool, golf course, fishing access (this might help them be self-sufficient, instead of trying to manage the national forest with our money.)

All U.S. citizens of every race and creed now own the forest. Let's keep it that way.

Roxanne Rapalyea


Editor's note: The Forest Service doesn't pay property taxes.




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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