Farmland & Refuge

Where We All Came From
Anders Tomlinson spent seven years filming life in the Tulelake Basin and nearby Lower Klamath and Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuges. This was an opportunity for Anders, a city boy, to learn how farmers raise crops and governments manage wildlife. It was a fascinating shoot with life lessons to be learned every day. Not so long ago more Americans lived on farms than in cities. This is a film project that looks at life in rural America. It is here that leaders are born: young people that understand the relationships and consequences of nature to man, and learn the multi-tasking skills to survive.

One local farmer referred to Tulelake as being a “crossroads in history”, so true.
The Panama Canal had just been built. Could these successful engineers, returning at the turn of the 20th century, turn their skills and experience towards preparing the west’s settlement so the country could expanded? The USA Congress, believing it had equipment, man power and knowledge to make large projects on the land materialize, approved the Reclamation Act of 1902. The newly formed Bureau of Reclamation built it’s first project in the Imperial Valley along the California-Mexico border by diverting Colorado water to the west and creating farmlands in what had been desert. The Klamath Reclamation Project was the second. Here, there was water, a key element for settlement. In fact, there was an excess of water that had to be drained. And so it was that Tule Lake and Lower klamath Lakes became fertile farm land facilitated by water diversions.

Czech settlers from Nebraska, migrated to what is now Malin, Oregon on what was the northeast shore of Tule Lake. Lucky World War I and II veterans, lottery winners, were invited to homestead. The reclamation project was successful. Engineers were abler to move, or remove, water, where and when needed. The “reclaimed” land could be used to support a larger human population. The settlement of the west had begun.

Headline Makers
Tulelake homesteaders were on a 1946 Life magazine cover. Articles about the Japanese-American Segregation camp were in Life magazine during World War II. In 2001, the Klamath Reclamation Project water shutoff made evening news across the nation and the world. The last Indian war in California, and the first to be reported internationally, was the Modic Indian War fought in what is now the Lava Beds National Monument. The Applegate and Lassen Trails traveled through Tule Lake basin with eastern settlers headed north and south. Earlier, tribes crisscrossed the basin. This has been a crossroads of humanity.

Hopefully We Learn from Our Migrating Pasts
The Tulelake documentary provides an opportunity to witness multiple migrations: spring and fall waterfowl migrations, “reclamation” of the west, the forced migration of World War II Japanese-Americans, native American migrations, Czech settlers, World War I and II homesteaders, Federal agency migrations and the hispanic migration. The rifts and faults of the land and the building and collapsing of mountains are also reminders thad land forms themselves are migrating.

©2012 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.