U.S. Navy Vet On LADWP’s Proposed Solar Ranch Near Manzanar: “Haven’t Japanese Americans Been Punished Enough?”

One organization, and now, one individual, have shared their letters with us, stating their opposition to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch. Assuming that more people may share their letters with us, we will share them with you, if they grant permission for us to do so.

The following was written by Floyd Shirk, of Joplin, Missouri.

Floyd Shirk
Photo courtesy
Floyd Shirk

Dear Ms. Parker:

I am not of Japanese ancestry and no longer a California resident, but I am strongly opposed to the solar farm at Manzanar.

I have visited all ten of the World War II Japanese concentration camp sites and most are in more or less desolate locations. But none so desolate as Manzanar. And that environment is a large part of the mood or ambiance of the site. To stand in the camp grounds and look in all directions, see no sign of human existence, and imagine yourself imprisoned there, brings on a depression of the very soul. To add signs of urban development nearby would destroy that ambiance entirely.

I have traveled the Owens Valley from end to end many times and I can attest to the fact that there is an abundance of open land suitable for a solar farm beyond the view from Manzanar and I am sure the City of Los Angeles owns much of it.

Haven’t Japanese Americans been punished enough for their non-sins?

Floyd Shirk

Floyd Shirk, 80, is a native of Joplin, Missouri, where he currently resides. He spent most of his life in San Diego, California, enlisting in the United States Navy in 1952, retiring after 24 years of service—ten as a commissioned officer. His tours of duty included the Korean War and Vietnam.

During his time in the U.S. Navy, Shirk met his late wife, Fujiko, a native of Nagano-ken, Japan. After being denied the right to marry in Shirk’s home state due to Missouri’s racist anti-miscegenation laws, they were forced to leave Missouri so they could marry in 1958.

After his military service, Shirk attended San Diego State University, where he earned a teaching credential. He went on to teach in the San Diego area for 15 years.

Shirk and his wife learned about the Japanese American incarceration experience while they lived in El Centro, California, and they vowed to visit each of the ten American concentration camps.

Fujiko was unable to complete that journey. But a couple of years ago, Shirk was finally able to fulfill the vow he and his wife made by visiting at the sites of the Jerome and Rohwer camps in Arkansas.

Community members are urged to sign an online petition opposing the LADWP proposal. To view/sign the petition on Change.org, click on: Halt LADWP’s Plan To Build A 1,200-Acre Solar Energy Generating Station Adjacent to Manzanar National Historic Site.

To view/download/print a copy of this form letter, click on the image above.
(requires Adobe Reader software)

Community members are also strongly urged to send letters to LADWP in opposition to the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch. Letters should be addressed to:

Nadia Parker
Environmental Planning and Assessment
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
111 North Hope Street, Room 1044
Los Angeles, California 90012-2607

Comments may also be sent via e-mail, and should be addressed to Ms. Parker at nadia.parker@ladwp.com, or to Charles Holloway, at charles.holloway@ladwp.com.

To download a form letter that can be used, click on the image at right.

All letters and e-mails must be received by LADWP no later than 5:00 PM PST on December 20, 2013.

Those who would like to review the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project can read it on the web at: http://www.ladwp.com/envnotices.

For more information, please call the Manzanar Committee at (323) 662-5102, or send e-mail to info@manzanarcommittee.org.

The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

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23 Responses to U.S. Navy Vet On LADWP’s Proposed Solar Ranch Near Manzanar: “Haven’t Japanese Americans Been Punished Enough?”

  1. Pingback: Manzanar Committee Launches Letter-Writing Campaign In Opposition To LADWP Solar Ranch Near Manzanar | Manzanar Committee

  2. Pingback: Petition Drive Demands Halt To LADWP’s Plan To Build Solar Energy Facility Adjacent To Manzanar | Manzanar Committee

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  4. Pingback: Proposed Solar Ranch Near Manzanar: Another Threat To Japanese American Historic Sites | Manzanar Committee

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  6. donald hata says:

    The navy vet’s letter sends a mixed message: the good part is where he suggests that DWP owns so much land in the area that, surely, they can build on another piece of their property. The downside is that the other, sympathetic message reinforces the image that the issue is of interest mainly to Nikkei–who crave sympathy and have little regard for broader issues like the need for solar energy. Emphasize the fact that DWP has *options* for a construction site and appeal for *support* for insisting that DWP pursue those options. Make it a *positive* message, instead of giving fuel to those who will dismiss the opposition as “more whining…

    • Floyd Shirk says:

      Mr. Hata

      I – the Navy vet – did not intend to write a dissertation on the subject of alternative power sources, something that I support fully. I simply wished to register my personal feelings on the matter. And I did not wish to speak for all Nikkei since I am not one and since not all Nikkei were effected by the so-called relocation. Nor do I wish to “whine,” as you called it, about the injustice of America’s WW II version of a holocaust.

      I do however wish to educate the millions of hakujin who have absolutely no knowledge of what transpired as a result of the issuance of Executive Order 9066 – in effect, the suspension of the US Constitution for some 115,000 AMERICANS. That is the most important thing. We cannot allow that second “day that will live in infamy” to be laid aside and forgotten.

      And I support this “whining” for personal reasons as well. Who knows? In the next World War, the enemy could be Ireland and Switzerland and I could find myself on the inside looking out.

      By the way, did I miss your basic comment regarding the power plant location and your solution to the problem. Or do you only issue negative comments?

  7. donald hata says:

    Bruce and Gann,

    The irony in the eloquence of you and all your supporters is that your bottom line message is powerfully relevant to raising a call to arms among Nikkei and supporters of Manzanar. But they are not your audience as you build a broader coalition against DWP’s arrogance in the selection of their their site. In order to get maximum community support and avoid a predictable DWP counter-attack that MC et al are short sighted and totally self-serving and uncaring about broader energy issues, augment your existing arguments to hook the vast majority beyond the MC and its support network.

    You are very smart guys and I will not push this message anymore.


    • Gann Matsuda says:

      We’re actually working with Owens Valley stakeholders on this issue, so we’re in pretty good shape regarding what LADWP might respond with. Nevertheless, we’ll look into potential changes per your suggestions.

  8. Mark Carlson says:

    Thanks for sharing Mr. Shirk’s letter, poignant and persuasive. My wife and I drive through Delta, UT near the Topaz camp site nearly every year, and always drive by the barracks stored behind a fence in a local museum compound which never seems to be open when we are there. Looked pretty sad this year, compared to the previous year, tumbleweeds around it, tarp not secured. I am guessing the coal-fired Intermountain Power Station just north of Delta, of which LADWP is a primary partner, can be seen from the Topaz site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermountain_Power_Plant
    And, I just google-mapped the address of Topaz, 10000 West 4500 North, Delta UT, and the footprint of the power plant complex cannot be missed to the northeast. And then there are high voltage power lines . . .

    Since LADWP is already active in power generation near the Topaz site, maybe they can be persuaded to avoid Manzanar, especially as alternative sites likely exist. Those readers in So Cal know of the controversy over coal and DWP. Wikipedia notes Intermountain is scheduled for conversion to natural gas. That’s a lot of gas, but cleaner than coal. Fracking anyone? There are no easy answers on energy issues, but there are choices about how to reduce carbon, and hopefully mitigate extreme weather events like flooding. Thanks for keeping us informed.
    Mark Carlson, Sacramento

  9. Pingback: Tule Lake Committee Calls LADWP’s Proposed Solar Ranch Adjacent to Manzanar “Inappropriate And Offensive” | Manzanar Committee

  10. happabuddha says:

    Hey Don,

    Good to see you at the Tuna Canyon blessing luncheon.  Great coalition they have and good NPR coverage.

    We reworked our critique along the lines you suggested.  Aside from the online petition I tried it out this morning on a Bishop radio station reporter. Given the audience I focused on the mutual interests we share with the Owens Valley, questions of democracy naturally and on distributed generation vs centralized generation.  On the later point I think pointing out the costs of generation and distribution being passed onto DWP customers will be a winner.

    Thanks for your counsel.   


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