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Iconic Klamath bucket moved from county building

Opinions about where the bucket should reside vary, even among the county commissioners.

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Thirteen years after protesters put it on the steps of the county government building in Klamath Falls, a 10-foot-tall bucket that was iconic for one side in the basin’s water struggle has been moved.

It was taken recently to the county fairgrounds so a movie company can film in front of the county building.

That kindled a question the county commissioners want the community to help answer: Should the bucket return to the steps? Or should it be moved, and to where?

In 2001, Klamath Basin irrigators and their supporters formed a symbolic “bucket brigade” to transfer water when a severe drought led the federal government to curtail water deliveries.

That set off protests, and later negotiations began among Native American tribes, farmers and others involved in the complex water struggles. Agreements have been reached locally and regionally to settle water distribution and other issues, but Congress hasn’t acted to put them in place.

As for the bucket, opinions about where it should reside vary, even among the commissioners, the Klamath Falls Herald and News reported.

Commissioner Jim Bellet was a protester 13 years ago, and not yet a commissioner. He used his own crane to set the bucket on the steps — and to move it recently.

He says it should have a new home: “It’s not a place that it needs to sit for the next 50 years.”

But Commissioner Tom Mallams said the bucket should return as a symbol of local dissatisfaction with “heavy handed use of our federal government using rules and regulations to stop the economy from growing.”

One resident, Michael Hinkel, told the commissioners at their weekly meeting Tuesday that the bucket overshadows a monument across the street that honors fallen soldiers from World War I to the present.

“I served with the Marines, two tours in Vietnam,” Hinkel said. “I was there to hear them cry out and fall.”

Commissioners said they’d hear people out on the topic at their meetings and take email comments at: bocc@klamathcounty.org.



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