Because I grew up as a dry land farmer, when the Buffalo Commons was proposed in 1987, it didn’t take long for me to realize what was really going on.
While on one side, it involved repopulating the Great Plains with buffalo, on the other side, it was a push to depopulate the Great Plains of people. That would be people like my family, church, friends, neighbors, and entire communities. What had been promised in homesteading – and earned by homesteaders and each succeeding generation – would be stolen back.
Sometimes we dry landers are not as quick as we should be to understand the situation for irrigated farmers. When the issue of the pallid sturgeon first was raised, that did not sound as connected to me as the buffalo. It took a little study to see where this really is going. Let’s cut to the chase and test what the Defenders of Wildlife really want in their lawsuit against the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project.
At the least, Buffalo Commons would require farmers to leave 139,000 square miles of farm land. For the pallid sturgeon, we can save the fish using only a small spot of land to construct a nice fish bypass. For once, we have the Army Corps of Engineers working in the same direction with farmers. They want to do the right thing by the fish and by farmers. And yet, lo and behold, for the Defenders of Wildlife, that is not enough.
They argue in court that the only acceptable method is one that nobody can afford, and which is actually worse for the fish, namely, pumping. The cost of electricity and maintenance for the huge pumps required to replace the weir is too expensive for irrigators to pay. Fish are hurt by the pumping approach. There are additional environmental harms from having pumping stations. This is a dead giveaway. They just want to stop irrigation altogether. To stop irrigation is to get rid of people. The object is Buffalo Commons by way of the pallid sturgeon. The goal is human depopulation of our area under the guise of caring about fish.
Take a look at what happens when irrigation ceases. Look at the vocations that no longer exist, the businesses that no longer can survive, and the employees who lose their jobs. Look at the out migration of people, the loss of school enrollments, and the loss of tax base by about $14 million. From that loss, look at the collapse of school budgets and county budgets. Without irrigation to recharge the cities’ drinking wells, people will be forced to leave. This is human depopulation, pure and simple. People are what Defenders of Wildlife want to get rid of. This is one more reason why “We the People” must show up in Great Falls on April 19 at the court hearing on summary judgment against irrigation. Let’s get on that bus and show Judge Brian Morris, the Obama appointee, the faces of the people he is being asked to get rid of.