While the click-bait headlines and sky-is-falling tone in The Source Weekly recent cover story on fish relocation efforts on the Deschutes River certainly attract more readers, the whole story is broader and far more complex.
Central Oregon's irrigation districts are currently working with more than 20 stakeholders to complete the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan for federal review and approval. Together with state and federal agencies, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Portland General Electric, and local conservation groups, this collaborative, scientifically-based multi-species plan will create a comprehensive strategy to effectively protect and enhance natural habitat while meeting the water needs of our community.
The health of the Deschutes River is a complex issue that dozens of groups have spent years trying to solve. The solution to this problem is not a quick fix or something that can be done overnight. While the development of the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan may not be moving as fast as some would like, it's the best way to ensure productive, long-term results. And while it has indeed taken time to draft that plan, we continue to make progress towards its completion.
The districts will continue to work with our partners to evaluate potential options for managing river flows. And regardless of what additional changes might be appropriate in the short-term, the long-term approach is still the same: We need to modernize our existing delivery systems. Such modernization includes conservation efforts like piping and lining canals, which requires significant funding.
Our efforts are inclusive, science-based, and meant to benefit everyone who lives and works in Central Oregon. We take our responsibility to Central Oregon seriously. Those who came before us made Central Oregon what it is today by carving more than 700 miles of canals out of dense volcanic rock using only horses, shovels, and primitive machinery. Today we are tasked with overseeing this vital network while managing the challenges of upgrading a century-old system in a way that best serves the needs of our patrons now and in the future in addition to the needs of our wildlife. We are continually looking for ways to improve upon decades-old practices in order to manage the region's water responsibly so there will be water for all in the years, decades, and centuries to come.
—Mike Britton, president of Deschutes Basin Board of Control and general manager of North Unit Irrigation District
Corporate profit is the bottom line differentiating the aggressive armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon from the peaceful protection of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation's tribal lands in North Dakota.
Corporations did not gain financially from the occupation of the Malheur Refuge but privatization of public lands to benefit the Aggressors was the incentive for the occupation. Taxpayers will pay for costs including policing, legal processes, environmental damage and destruction of Federal property. Harney County will struggle to heal the wounds of its community created by the invasion.
Fossil fuel corporate profits from the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota will range in the billions of dollars. Corporate greed has dictated every decision and action against Native Americans striving to protect their water, lands, air, culture and sacred spiritual sites.
Racism is the key to understanding the reaction of State Power in both situations. Armed white Christian men exercising their inherent superiority to claim the right of eminent domain over Federal land was allowed to destroy property, terrorize a community, travel freely, occupy Federal buildings and "borrow" Federal property. Taxpayers are burdened with the expense of policing which amounted to police observing the situation for months with minimum involvement.
The power of the military/police state has been unleashed against the Peaceful Protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation who are neither white nor privileged. National Guard, police, Morton County Sheriff and deputies, corporate private security goons and possibly Federal enforcement agencies have been mobilized to protect investments and profits of fossil fuel corporate capitalists.
Armored vehicles, assault weapons, helicopters, LRAD's, pepper spray, rubber bullets, metal percussion caps, infiltrators, attack dogs and police in full riot gear have been used to intimidate, injure, arrest and repress Peaceful Protectors on their trial lands. Taxpayers will pay for these weapons and protective services for the fossil fuel corporations.
The White Men with Guns who occupied the Malheur for months were accorded their full range of legal rights. The Peaceful Protectors at Standing Rock have been arrested en masse, brutalized and denied any semblance of basic human rights.
The prosecution charged the Aggressors at Malheur with conspiracy, one of the most difficult charges to prove in court. The case was tried by a white jury. It is incredible to believe that anyone was surprised by the "Not Guilty" verdict.
The immediate reaction to the verdict was to ramp up the Fear Meter with concern that White Guys with Guns would be emboldened to pursue their goal to privatize public lands justifying increased police state intervention.
The opinion article regarding the Malheur Verdict reflects my thoughts in words. Thank you.
For me, the verdict is further evidence that I am subject to a system of laws, not justice, that enables narcissistic folk to use for financial gain and notoriety. Also discomfiting to me is that team Bundy now has evidence that "GOD," supports their endeavors as evidenced by acquittal. Mayhem, disruption, and implied threats of gun violence are justified to exonerate a small clutch of individuals from all responsibility for their egregious behavior to the tune of nine million dollars, let alone weeks of angst and disruption for many other fellow citizens who are stuck with their tab. This verdict sets a dangerous precedence.
Letter of the Week: Pat, after publishing "Inside the Malheur Trial" last week, we got an insider perspective on the issue, which shed new light on the trial for us. We'd love to hear your thoughts.
—Nicole Vulcan, Editor