Access Issues,    klamath dam river dam removal,    Klamath River,    siskiyou county board of supervisors

Crazy Is As Crazy Does In Siskiyou County

Posted by Tom Chandler 11/17/2011

Longtime readers will remember the Underground's unpretty Siskiyou Land Use Policy fight (list of Land Use posts here), where the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors attempted to unilaterally designate all the rivers in the county (including the McCloud and Upper Sac) as non-navigable.

This would have greatly limited public access.

With your help, a group of locals and CalTrout turned that one back, but given the views of those populating the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, I warned you then it wasn't over.

And it isn't.

Powered By The Klamath River

With Klamath River Dam Removal issue as a backdrop, the question of public access to navigable rivers -- the central theme of our prior fight -- has popped up again in Siskiyou County.

At a recent meeting, County Sheriff (Jon Lopey) -- apparently grandstanding in the hopes of furthering his political ambitions -- decided to single-handedly redefine the legal standard of navigability (from the Two Rivers Tribune):

Murphy said he'd tried to research navigability but the results were inconclusive and asked Lopey for his opinion. Lopey answered, "It's not navigable if you can't put a boat on it," and coached landowners that they have a right to file a complaint if people trespass.

Wow. The leading law enforcement official in the county doesn't know the legal standard of navigability (hint: it involves prior use for purposes of commerce or recreation). Based on this faulty knowledge, he tells landowners they can charge the lawful members of the public with trespass?

Excellent! What could possibly go wrong?

Participants in the Land Use fight will likely recall Supervisor Jim Cook -- who after receiving a couple hundred protest emails took to telling emailers they were "bizarre." At the same meeting, Cook was quoted as saying:

Jim Cook, chair of the County Board of Supervisors, said the county government could declare whether a water course was navigable or not and suggested the county would take action.

Extreme Legal Scholar Cook
might want to research that assertion. It's not true.

Not even close.

Just The Facts... Not

Driving all this is the potential removal of the Klamath River Dams, which among the dam-hugger set is generating an astonishing number of "facts," including:

  • The water-heating, toxic-algae spawning dams actually protect salmon runs

  • The government is trying to run Siskiyou County ranchers off their land to create a huge game preserve run by the UN

  • Coho salmon aren't native to the Klamath basin (despite being native everywhere else), so protecting them is actually illegal


None of the above comes within even artillery distance of the truth (I'll debunk them for you if you really need it done), yet they're widely accepted as fact in Siskiyou County.

In a recent newspaper editorial, an outdoor writer -- who apparently dreams of black helicopters in his sleep -- compared dam removal proponents to the 9/11 terrorists.

(Charmingly, he also compares opponents to "vermin" and "liars, cheats and thieves".)

Welcome to Siskiyou County.

You'll come for the fishing, but you'll stay for the vicious, invective-ridden local politics.

This isn't a call to action... yet.

Still, dam removal -- and all the craziness that's accompanying it -- is gaining profile. And more crazy is sure to come.

This one's going down to the wire, and mostly likely, you'll be asked to contribute a minute or two of your time at a handful junctures along the way.

See you sharpening those pencils, Tom Chandler.

AuthorPicture

Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

19 comments
Thanks for the pointer; there's so much in that article that is ripe for quoting; I feel an article coming on...
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Hey folks, check out the story about navigability in the 1/12 issue of the Siskiyou Daily! Things are about to change in Siskiyou County!
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Yeah, I heard rumors. It's more an indication of how far off the reservation POW has gotten that Marcia Armstrong is now considered soft. I'll give Armstrong credit for trying to increase the economic vitality of the county, but the tunnel vision of the Supes suggests a better economy will have to wait until the dams come out and the benefits to the area become apparent.
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You'll appreciate, Tom, that your friends up at SOS are petitioning to recall ... wait for it ... Marcia Armstrong. Too soft, you know. http://www.capitalpress.com/california/TH-armstrong-recall-w-infobox-111811
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We're ready to fight the good fight. Bring it on. I'm sick of the lies. Thanks for getting the word out.
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Thanks for pointing that one out. I hadn't seen it, though probably because I'd been driven "fact blind" by the revelation that Coho aren't native to the Klamath...
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Thanks. There's a lot to do on this one over the next couple months...
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Kevin: You do know that a local government doesn't have the power to redefine navigable, right? Yes, during the Land Use fight we figured that out in approximately ten minutes, but the real issue here is what the landowners (and the sheriff) are willing to believe, and how they're willing to act on it. At the very least, landowner belief (and the sheriff's complicity) would have a chilling effect ... more on the public exercising their legal rights, and at this point, I can't say if that's Lopey's goal or if he truly believe what he says. The worst case scenario is a lot uglier. Driving this issue is something that happened years ago, when an Audubon group found an endangered bird on the banks of the Scott River, and local water activist (and Klamblog firebrand) Felice Pace recounts the event in a comment he left under the story I cited: As to the issue of navigability, Lopey suggests that stream diverters can render a stream non-navigable simply by dewatering it so that no boat can pass. As with so many of Lopey's assertions, this one is dead wrong too. Both the California State Lands Commission and Siskiyou County Counsel Frank DeMarco (Ed: now retired) are on record that the Scott is navigable. I have the letters and will provide them upon request. When irrigators with guns tried to block Marble Mountain Audubon from floating the Scott several years back the sheriff protected the Auduboners and kept the situation peaceful. What would Lopey do in a similar situation? Maybe we ought to float the Scott next spring and find out. Who is ready to stand (and float) with me to protect our right to access US waters? With tensions running as high as they are -- and the "driving us off our land" rhetoric right at the firefront -- this is a bad time for Sheriff Lopey to get it dead wrong.
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Hey, Mt. Shasta only voted against dam removal by a 60/40 margin, putting us 20 pts ahead of the rest of the county...
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trotsky: My personal favorite recent “fact” came from John Menke, Ph.D. (!):“The primary purpose of dam removal is to get agricultural users of electrical power onto fossil fuels so green house gases produced will allow the Federal government (EPA) to eliminate farming and ranching in the Upper Klamath Basin. The good Dr. has written much of the same kind of misinformation that has been printed ... more as pure "fact" in the Klamath Hearld & News. The local farm community reads this tripe and swallows it whole, making it nearly impossible to get the other side of the story out. As a result we have a 10,000 gal. bucket right in front of our County Court House steps......Hawaiian Love Sign Dr.!
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Pencil sharpened. It also makes me wonder if there are other uses for our B-17s. And maybe it's time to buy a few Blackhawk Helicopters and a few dozen yards of fast rope.
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My personal favorite recent "fact" came from John Menke, Ph.D. (!): "The primary purpose of dam removal is to get agricultural users of electrical power onto fossil fuels so green house gases produced will allow the Federal government (EPA) to eliminate farming and ranching in the Upper Klamath Basin and other parts of the Klamath River Watershed by making power cost prohibitive." http://pienpolitics.com/?p=6520 ... more Awesome. Awsomer that the gent used to teach at UC Davis.
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Like AC, I live along the lower mid-Klamath and truly appreciate your continued advocacy for a healthy Klamath River and reasoned Siskiyou County politics. I think it's interesting that voices like yours are more often found at the edges of this county. As fisherman, we all know that the edges are where the most important things happen, and as loud and obnoxious as the main current of this county ... more (78%, apparently) can be, I have faith that it'll be those of us speaking wisely from edges that will eventually save us from ourselves. Thanks again, Tom.
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Loonies is as loonies does. It is amazing how many times things like this have to beat back only to pop-up again. Let us know when the sharp pencils are needed again. I won't bother you with Wyoming politics - the loonies are so widespread here we'll just try to contain them to the state.
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Local politics is the best argument against democracy that I can think of... Siskiyou County, sadly, has always been my primary example of that. Yeah... not good. As a native Siskiyou County boy, it always makes me a little sad to see the crazies up there be seen as mainstream. The UN wilderness area was always a fav. Keep fighting the good fight.
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Is it time for The TU to occupy Siskiyou County?
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I have to see that damn bucket everytime I walk up the Klamath County Courthouse steps. These guys around here are just as bad, none of them can tell the truth on any subject. Boy, some people get my dander up. You need help from Klamath Falls Posse, you got it! tw
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You do know that a local government doesn't have the power to redefine navigable, right? That even if the Sheriff arrests someone on a state-listed navigable water, and even if the DA charges them, that a state-appointed superior court judge would probably laugh at the charges? The old county plan wouldn't have made a lick of difference in state law.
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I live in Happy Camp and really appreciate all you do to get the word out for the fish and waterways of Siskiyou County. There are a lot of fish haters between here and Dunsmuir, but most of us on the Klamath River know removal of these dams will be a good thing. Thanks for being a voice of reason, it is reassuring to know there are people who love fish at the other end of the county too.
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