Stop the Proposed Fence at the Tulelake Municipal Airport, site of the former Tule Lake Segregation Center, California
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Modoc County, California, approved a 5-year $3.5 million airport development plan that includes a massive, 3-mile long, barbed-wire topped 8-foot high fence. Having an airport, even a small and primitive airport, operating in the middle of the Tule Lake concentration camp site, is inappropriate and demeans the memory of more than 24,000 people who were incarcerated in Tule Lake. The proposed fence closes off remembrance of this civil and human rights tragedy, and it will destroy the integrity of this unique historic site. The fence will eliminate opportunities for Japanese Americans and others to visit, reflect and mourn. This exclusion will be a permanent legacy of Modoc County’s and the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to comprehend the traumatic injustice created by the racism, fed by wartime greed and hysteria and failed political leadership that led to the mass incarceration.
The Tule Lake site has not yet been comprehensively surveyed to document surface and subsurface historic WWII resources. Consequently, it is a priority to identify structures and artifacts before more damage to the site takes place. In July 2014, the Tule Lake Committee sought legally-mandated environmental review of the entire airport area, which occupies two-thirds of the former Tule Lake site. However, instead of conducting careful examination of the entire area WITHIN the fence project, including subsurface review, the County and the FAA have argued their environmental responsibility is confined to surveying only a narrow strip of land where the 3-mile long fence would directly lie.
In the past year, the Tule Lake Committee participated in talks with Modoc County, the FAA, other state and federal agencies and local representatives, hoping to promote understanding of the historic site’s significance, urging it be protected, not destroyed.
Seeking a long-term solution to the problem of preserving an irreplaceable historic site, we raised the issue of moving the Tulelake airport to a less sensitive nearby location. It was clear to all interested parties that a small airport can be moved. It is not possible to move a historic site.
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