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The Dark Side of Klamath Dam "Renewal" part 2
A local perspective by Chrissie Ishida Reynolds
At 1:13 this afternoon I got a call from my 77 year old neighbor, Al. Two deer were stuck in the mud near his house.
He tried calling our local fire guys but they weren't available and he needed help. He asked me to call someone from fish and wildlife.
I got out my old phone list and found a number from out of the area. I gave them the name and address of where we are located however the 916 area code didn't leave me confident she knew where we were. I told her our dam was breached a few days ago and now there is no water hoping she knew now where we were at when I said Copco Lake. I hung up.
I quickly called another neighbor who is friends with a local game warden. I called him. We both expressed our frustration with this situation as we figured out the next steps.
He told me to call the local conflict specialist and then the public relations person with the renewal corpse.
He said he would call his lieutenant and he warned me that this will be a slow process and the outcome may not be good. I was already prepared. My husband said the kindest and best thing to do was to put them down as soon as possible as they had already been stuck in the mud for awhile and the stress wasn't going to be good for them and he didn't want to be involved. I also understood this. Our own stress of the last 4 intense days were off the charts. In fact, I was just about to lay down and try to rest because we haven't been sleeping well as we are adjusting to the shock and trauma of watching what just a little while ago had abundant diversity of wildlife. Watching that disappear so rapidly has been incredibly hard.
Al was by himself. I felt conflicted. Because of my own vulnerability, my husband's feelings that we did what we could do and the proper people were called.... let it go ....
And so I tried to detach with love. I called a friend. Al and I continued to text with updates. He sent me photos, I sent them to the warden.
I tried to breathe.... finally I had her on the laptop and Al on the phone. Al sent me a picture of his blood pressure. We told him he needed to rest and calm down. I hadn't heard back from the warden for a while and Al did not want to give up. My husband still didn't want to go..... he knew those animals were not going to make it and didn't want any part of it. I couldn't blame him and I worry about his health. He had a stroke the day after public comment period closed, 2 days after Easter in 2022. We're still dealing with our new normal since then. He was 49 years old at the time.
I made a decision to go and be with Al. I still hadn't heard back from the warden. I called our friends who are the fire department (and community club board members and local real estate guys and trying to open the local store which has been closed since the early 2000's).
They were on their way back from Medford and said that Hornbrook Fire Dept and CalFire had been dispatched. This was great news.
I went to Al's.
I found Al walking up from the bank outside his home. He walks me down to show me where the deer are. I wonder where the fire trucks are and Al is upset because they are all over at Mallard Cove. On the opposite side of the deer and the water.....
I tell Al to come with me and we drive to Mallard Cove. I parked out of the way. Having been a volunteer fire fighter I am aware of how to conduct myself on scene.
Immediately a woman starts towards us. She introduces herself as a fish and wildlife biologist. I explain we are the ones who called this in and that there is better access down the road at the end... much closer....
She explains that these are specially trained personnel and that the warden had already been down there and they knew what they were doing.
Al is frustrated but we get closer to the scene. I recognize another local family who it turns out followed the warden down there.
We are observing.
The deer have now been in there for a couple of hours. Now a tribal truck shows up with another professional that the biologist tries to engage. He says he's there to help his boss and points down the ramp and brushes right by her.
It's a long while as they attempt to get close. Al is beside himself but no one is paying attention and I try to calm him down.
After another 20 minutes or so? they decide their idea isn't going to work and once again we try to tell them that the house at the end is unoccupied and that the owner would want them to use her home as a staging area. And that's what they do.
We get back in the car, go back to where we were and talk to the warden and his coworker. He says he's just as frustrated and is not in charge and has to wait to be told what to do.
Meanwhile Al tells me he has a key to the neighbors gate if they need to drive down there as a passthrough and I tell the warden who tells me to talk to the battalion chief.
I talk to the battalion chief about options because we are losing daylight and a call needs to be made....
We watch these other professionals go up to their thighs in mud before they too decide it's time to dispatch these animals.
I begin calling in the ancestors and setting up sacred space for what is about to happen. I pray loudly and with intention and apologize for our inadequacy. I pray for the young deer who I didn't know but had been stuck next to his mother who had already been dispatched earlier. I missed that part somehow although I think the warden was trying to explain to me that he tried to shoot around her to scare her out but she went the wrong way. It didn't dawn on me that he'd had to dispatch her and she was already dead until later.
As I was praying the other personnel were walking away when the gun went off and the young fawn mewed out and I dropped to my knees sobbing. Another shot fired another mew and it was over. I couldn't stop sobbing.
I felt arms trying to lift me up. It was the other game warden and she just wrapped me into her chest and hugged me. She said to let them have this. It was theirs too carry not me.....
I calmed down enough to walk back to the place where Marrilyn Crom's dock used to be. It was the safest path up to the driveway.
I am looking for Al but cannot find him. I start the car and get back out to try and find Al. The game warden who had to kill the deer calls out to me. He says, "Chrissie, I need a hug. I am soooooo sorry!" and I cry into his chest, thank you, I'm sorry. We all are upset because they weren't prepared, none of these agencies, for what we are facing in real time.
While we were at Mallard Cove I asked everyone there if they knew what happened to the eagle. Everyone knew about the eagle but no one knew what happened. I asked if they believed the story that the bird was captured and was being rehabbed. No one did.
And here's the thing..... These are local people. Local to Siskiyou County and yet, they feel like we do and because of their paychecks and pensions they must abide by their agencies policies and procedures and protocols. I know that is they weren't bound by this they would have done what my husband said hours before if they could have. If they were free to exercise their common sense. The other thing I saw was a lot of egos trying to pound on their chests and wasting time and daylight. Just my impression, please forgive me....
No one was prepared for this. They don't have the resources to deal with this. The largest dam removal project in world history.
They could have done so much more. This is on the KRRC.
On January 25 William Simpson II sent out an email to all of the agencies entitled "Critical Deer Wintering Habitat and Historic Open Range Grazing and Natural Water Sources. In that email it clearly shows that communications were sent as early as January 14 asking for fencing and livestock tanks for watering.
My/our frustration is that the local residents and landowners have talked for 2 decades about their concerns to our local wildlife due to this project. We have all sent letters and asked questions and been pushed and brushed aside when the experts who are paid by the People and are footing the bill for this project and are not being compensated as of yet for any of the harms already suffered, and we know this is only the beginning of the losses that we have to bear.
In just a few weeks the pelican are going to arrive and think they've landed in hell. I know because that's how we feel. It's apocalyptic what has become of our homes, our lives, our wildlife.
So I left the scene, stopped by Al's who it turns out walked home and I found him outside on his front porch with a chainsaw cutting branches... He says, "oh, Chrissie, I need to do something with my energy. These people know nothing. They don't listen. This should never have happened. That is Sin!"
I thank him again for trying. I know he wouldn't have quit without knowing he did everything. I know because that's how I feel.
I got in the car and started towards home. As I turned the corner, and started down the road something catches my eye on the road...
I back up a little and get out, grab my phone for the flashlight and walk back.
It's a little toad/frog. I don't know exactly. I'm not a professional biologist. It goes a little bit further and stops, waiting for me. I try to find it in the dark with my camera and apologize to it because I am not techy like that and it waits patiently for me... I finally get one kinda clear. I thank it and realize I need to do something.
I turn around and head back to Marrilyn's house. On the way I see the other warden and stop and ask her who I should talk to about what just happened and she said I could tell her and as I related to her my thoughts she says go tell them and so I thanked her again, said goodbye and headed back down the road. I found the tribal guys had left but the firefighters were gathered up and so I told them once again how much I appreciated them and that I needed to say something.
I don't know what you guys have planned for those two deer but I am asking that you use this situation as a training scenario. That you try all three options of 1) boat 2) skids and 3) plywood sheets laid down and then slid out and so forth like a snow shoe and time what works best. That they not let those deer have died for nothing and that hopefully they can use that as a learning experience to save something else. Everyone said they would and were doing that and were trying to figure out when they could come back because we all know that something else is going to try to get those deer and it may be not a friendly animal that may also need to be rescued. No one wants to try a mountain lion or such.... And everyone agreed this is only the beginning.
No one was prepared. Today was the first time they exchanged phone numbers.
Initially Al asked for a helicopter and the warden replied immediately they didn't have one and the biologists didn't have one. The tribes have planes but a helicopter would be better.
So many agencies, not enough resources, not enough planning. And once again I thanked them but I told them they were all getting paid. Al and I are not and yet we pay the price for it emotionally, mentally, and with the physical stress of it.
I paid $150 out of pocket yesterday for a two hour massage and literally cried for over an hour and a half. Poor wonderful woman kept saying, no sorry.... as I just sobbed and apologized again..... I recommend Alice at the Chinese massage place in town by the way. We didn't speak the same language. We needed an app to translate our communications. It wasn't until I turned over and she wiped the tears from my eyes and said long time ago she sad. I tried to reassure her this wasn't just sadness..... I asked for my phone and showed her the lake and I said this is my home. And then the video of them blowing out the tunnel. Oh my God, she said. Then the eagle flapping in the mud. Oh my God she says again. She knew that much English. And then I show her my daughter at the edge of what used to be one of our favorite views....
I started crying again. She says you here now, and dries my eyes again. She was like my personal Quan Yin..... So compassionate.
I know this is long. I know it's a lot. I know I am in shock and should go to bed, drink some water, take some deep breaths. It's been over 12 hours since Al first called me, but the cortisol and need to get this out keeps me going...
I know I did everything I could and it didn't save those deer. I did everything I could and it hasn't saved the lake...
I know I haven't failed. It just feels like it....
I have more pictures but they're on the camera. That's for another time and another edition of the Dark Side of Renewal
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Page Updated: Wednesday January 31, 2024 12:37 AM Pacific
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