May 7th, 2001 – The Bucket Brigade

There were 18,000 people in the park and along Main Street.
Part one of a three part series. Regional and local media arrived on May 7th, 2001 to cover the story. Groups from throughout the northwest came to Klamath Falls, Oregon to be part of the Bucket Brigade.The concept was simple. 50 buckets of water would be drawn from Lake Ewauna and handed person to person some 16 blocks and then deposited into the Bureau of Reclamation’s “A” canal on the other side of town. This symbolic community act was an illegal diversion of “federal” mandated water. A series of speakers started the day at lake Ewauna arguing against the water shut-off logic. Master of Ceremonies Mike Byrne announced that there were 18,000 people in the park and along Main Street, local police estimate. After several more speakers, including Oregon Senator Gordon Smith, the procession of buckets solemnly began led by 4 girls from the Tulelake 4H club and a local radio station’s donated sound truck. Lee Greenwood’s God Bless America – also know as – I’m Proud to be An American was played repeatedly. Emotional tears flowed freely as the water buckets passed enroute to the “A” canal. Speakers in this video include: Marion Palmer – Tulelake Homesteader, Hollis Baley – farmer’s daugther, Darla Parks – farming mother, John Crawford – farmer, Wally Herger – CA Congressmen, Gordon Smith – Oregon US Senator, Mike Byrne – rancher, Vitalina Malakar – farming wife.

May 7, 2001 began as a bright-blue morning with puffy Simpson-like clouds.
The Bucket Brigade Protest on May 7, 2001 began as a bright-blue morning with puffy Simpson-like clouds, unseasonably warm with temperatures rising. This, the middle of a three part series, is scenes of the buckets being passed down main street after the morning speakers at veteran’s park and deliverance of lake water to the “A” irrigation canal late in the afternoon. Agricultural was fully committed to bringing attention to the Klamath Reclamation project’s farmers plight with a public relations campaign. They would learn how as they did it. Basin Fertilizer and Chemicals on Malone Road, one mile north of the California border in Merrill, Oregon, became a meeting place for the many who wanted to do something: the Bucket Brigade, coming two months after the official water-shutoff was one of the early concepts developed and implemented by this group of individuals who were facing the water crisis together as a community team.

Walking home in small groups, or alone, atop the banks of an empty canal.
After the water was dumped into the “A” canal a crowd packed a nearby high school’s grandstands and listened to another set of speakers including Oregon Congressmen Greg Walden. The day came to an end with my final shot of tired people walking home in small groups, or alone, atop the banks of an empty canal as the sun was setting. This segment includes excerpts from earlier speeches by Jack Roberts, Robert McLandress, Hollis Baley, Bob Smith, Bill Garrard, John Crawford, Marion Palmer and Darla Parks It was covered by local and regional TV, radio and press along with Fox national correspondent William La Jeunesee. A digital footprint was created. Soon my edited sequences of the Tractor Rally, Bucket Brigade and interviews set up by Moudry were being sent off as media packages. The Portland PBS affiliate produced a segment for the PBS national News Hour. David Brancaccio called and requested footage to use in a California Connected episode he was producing. A 60 minute show was aired repeatedly on fledging RFTV. Chris Moudry also contacted the publishers of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless America and received the rights to use the song in Bucket Brigade video clips.

©2013 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.