KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Federal agents served a restraining order Monday to a man who had threatened to chain himself to the headgates of a federal irrigation canal to protest the government's decision to reduce the flow of water to Klamath Basin farmers.
Stan Thomson, 52, of Keno, has been ordered to stay away from the headgate area at the A Canal of the federal irrigation project, which serves about 1,000 farms along the Oregon-California border. He was ordered to appear in federal court Sept. 4, for a hearing to extend the restraining order beyond 10 days.
Calls to Thomson were not immediately returned.
Thomson became an instant celebrity in Klamath Falls after he called on frmers and ranchers to defy the government and its decision to withhold water from the Klamath Reclamation Project.
Earlier this summer, the retired railroad conductor, part of a group called the Klamath T Party, illegally occupied the area and helped pry open one of the headgates, releasing water intended for endangered fish.
On Aug. 16, at a meeting in Keno, Thomson displayed a length of chain and said he would lock himself to the headgate if the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation again turned off the water, according to court papers filed in Eugene.
Last Thursday, when the Interior Secretary Gale Norton ordered the water shut off, Thomson arrived with the chain and backed his pickup to the fence.
He relented after talking to farmers and Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger, saying he respected their wishes to avoid a dispute.
"He said he was going to give it a few days, but he said he'd do it no matter what," Evinger said Monday.
Federal officials refused to say if they would arrest Thomson should he violate the order.