If you wondered where all the bonkers energy and enthusiasm of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation went, David Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center says it’s now focused on the Klamath Basin dams that are due to be removed in a controversial restoration of the ecology that their construction destroyed.

Originally built to electrify and irrigate a high desert region, the Klamath dams now prevent salmon migration. Despite obstruction in Congress, California and Oregon recently reached an agreement with PacifiCorp that would begin removal of the dams after 2020.

Deep-fried in John Birch Society conspiracy theories since its inception decades ago, last week the militia movement turned out to demonstrate in the largest town near where three of the four dams are located.

Last week, a small gathering of self-described “Patriots” brought protest signs and a petition to the Siskiyou County Court House in Yreka, Calif., claiming that the new agreement was “null and void”.

Many of the speakers and participants argued that the original agreement – which had guaranteed water access to ranchers and farmers while also removing the dams, so that salmon runs could be restored to the upper reaches of the river – should never have been agreed to, and that Congress was right to refuse to fund it. They claimed that federal and state authorities who arranged the dam-removal agreement had no right to do so.

As Neiwert reports, the event received heavy promotion from militia ‘patriots’ aligned with the State of Jefferson, a fringe project to carve out a 51st state from southern Oregon and Northern California to serve as a sort of armed libertarian paradise. Members of the group were involved in standoffs with the federal government at Malheur and Sugar Pass Mine during 2015.

Neiwert also shares this amazing video of Debbie Bacigalupi, an Agenda 21 conspiracy fantasist who speaks for many of her fellow opponents of Klamath dam destruction. Watch:

Doesn’t she look lovely while touting insane fables about a nonbinding United Nations sustainable development program that has absolutely nothing to do with the Klamath River restoration project?

I think it’s a dam scam, as this sign says, and I think that it is an Agenda 21 method on how to control all people. If you remove these dams, destroy them, you are going to hurt ranchers and farmers who provide people with not only food but also livestock byproducts – you’re going to hurt economies, recreation that exists on the river. You’re gonna hurt this area because when we have catastrophic wildfires, where are they gonna get the water to put these fires out? There’s no irrigation, the recreation, the recreation economy, all these benefits of that renewable water, which is why it’s called renewable, because we use it over and over again – it’s really a tragedy, and it’s government-imposed.

Bacigalupi actually thinks that if the dams are removed, the Klamath River will stop flowing altogether. Never mind that the river was flowing just fine before it was dammed, or that farming and ranching are precarious endeavors in an arid climate like the Klamath Basin, or that restoration of the river will probably provide new recreation jobs long-term — as well as reclamation jobs in the transition.

In her estimation, we simply shouldn’t have those nice things, and neither should the salmon, because conspiracy.

Chances are that in the years to come, these folks will keep trying to stop the Klamath dam removal, and who knows what kind of dramas they might create when actual work begins.

  • muselet

    Is there nothing these self-identified “patriots” can’t manage to misconstrue?

    Local stakeholders—farming and ranching interests, local Indian tribes, conservationists and others—hashed out the original agreement that Congress failed to act on. Those same stakeholders hashed out this new agreement with the help of Oregon and California. As far as I can tell, the only objections have come from people like Debbie Bacigalupi who don’t know nothin’ about nothin’ (memo to Ms Bacigalupi: Congress is in fact a part of the federal government, so it’s more than a bit silly to talk of the “federal government” doing “an end run” around Congress) and, more importantly, have no meaningful stake in the outcome.

    Also—and I’ve said this in other forums over the years—if the loonies in Northern California and southern Oregon do somehow manage to create the State of Jefferson as a libertarian paradise, within a decade their eleven-fingered offspring would be living in a blasted hellscape, possibly in the country’s largest Superfund site. The idea that they might play any role in the region’s water management sends a cold chill down my spine.


    • William A. Ferguson

      We’re not all loonies in Northern California. Some of us are here by circumstance and trust me when I say that we’d rather be somewhere else.

      I live in Northern California.

      And I’m hoping this god-awful Jefferson never makes it to a ballot initiative or gets shot down in the vote – and I certainly implore my fellow Californians not to condemn me and my ilk to a life of unending purgatory.

      • muselet

        I didn’t mean to imply everyone in Northern California is a loony; I meant it’s the loonies who happen to live in Northern California and southern Oregon who have long agitated for the State of Jefferson.

        Apologies for the ambiguity.


        • William A. Ferguson

          Oh, I take no offense.

          I’d be the first one to tell you these folks need to be Raptured right the hell up outta here quick.

  • Debbie Bacigalupi

    Dear Matt…You are so handsome and smart!!! Love, Debbie Bacigalupi

  • William A. Ferguson

    Debbie Bacigalupi looks like a meth monster.