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Monday, February 20, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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War internment camp gains landmark status

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Part of a former World War II internment camp for Japanese Americans has been officially designated a National Historical Landmark.

The 42-acre landmark was part of the Tule Lake Relocation-Segregation Camp in a remote area of Northern California near the Lava Beds National Monument just south of the Oregon border.

More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were displaced from their homes across the West and put in 10 relocation camps during the war. Tule Lake was the largest center, with a peak population of 18,789 detainees.

Last year, a National Park Service advisory board unanimously recommended the designation for the area that was part of the 7,400-acre camp. It was designated as a relocation center in 1942 and converted to the nation's only segregation center in 1943.

The landmark area includes the former stockade, the motor pool and portions of the former military-police compound. No public lands are included.

"This is a giant step forward," said Craig Dorman, Lava Beds National Monument superintendent. "It provides to this site national recognition and establishes this as a site worth protecting."

Dorman was notified last week the landmark designation has been signed by Interior Secretary Gale Norton, with a formal announcement expected this week.

During hearings last year in New York, the designation was supported by Antoinette Toni Lee, acting assistant associate director for the Historical Landmark Program.

U.S. Rep. John T. Doolittle, R-Calif., whose congressional district includes Modoc County in Northern California, strongly supported the nomination.

Dorman said support from Doolittle and others will be necessary for the designated area to be developed as a park or rest area. Members of the Tule Lake Committee, a group of former internees and their families, have led efforts to develop a small interpretive center.

Other former internment centers, including Manzanar in Southern California, have been developed as parks.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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