[UPDATE: New information about the source of this Natural Resource plan — and the lack of honesty surrounding its origins. I plan to post something as soon as it’s confirmed (hopefully no later than Saturday). Stay tuned!]

Those with sensitive political palettes may want to turn away; we’re continuing to unravel Siskiyou County’s disastrous proposed Natural Resources Policy — which would essentially criminalize the act of fishing the Upper Sacramento, McCloud, Scott and Shasta Rivers.

Hold onto your waders. Unlike the rivers we love, this isn’t pretty.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors think this should be illegal.

The Short Course

In prior posts (read the first here, most recent here), the Underground’s Unpaid Legal Braintrust pointed out the questionable legal nature of the county’s proposed “Natural Resource Policy”, which threatened “non-navigable” status for the rivers in the county, despite the fact they clearly qualify as navigable under the state’s definition.

We also noted the thinly veiled threat from the author (Supervisor Marcia Armstrong) urging those writing e-mails against the plan to give up on the Shasta and Scott Rivers, or she’d be forced to go after the McCloud and Upper Sac (which the proposed plan does).

The good news?

The world is taking notice. The Orvis conservation folks are on this one like a brown trout on a minnow, and CalTrout is also gearing up. I just wrote a short news item for the esteemed California Fly Fisher, and contacting others who might have a stake.

I’m hearing some interesting noises (more news as it happens), and it appears we won’t be alone on this one.

And just so you know, your contributions are making a difference; rebutting the sometimes bizarre legal framework laid out by proponents has been extremely helpful (though new arguments surface almost as fast as the old ones are shot dead), and believe me — your e-mails have been noticed by the supervisors.

Sadly, it’s not enough; Supervisor Armstrong has openly stated she was going to see this resource plan implemented “no matter what” — and given the combative quality of her responses to most emails, I’d say she hasn’t budged from her goal.

As someone stated in an earlier comment: “It looks like a dogfight.”

It will be. Buckle up, Undergrounders.

The Onion Effect

Peeling away the layers of this whole movement is akin to peeling an onion; one unsightly layer after another reveals itself, and in the end, you’re basically left crying.

At least that’s where I’m at. Consider the following:

  • Supervisor Armstrong appears unwilling to heed any of the volumes of negative public opinion headed her way (including your e-mails), and the questionable legal basis for this plan has been entirely ignored.
  • Ms. Armstrong has publicly said she will decide which public comments warrant inclusion in the plan, and which don’t — a massive breach of the public trust.
  • She’s appealed to her supporters for help in dealing with the unexpected opposition, and that group includes people from timber industry giants Roseburg and Sierra Pacific.
  • Armstrong has cynically blamed “local fly fishing guides” for inciting this issue by exercising their legal right of access on the Scott and Shasta, and raised the specter of “biosecurity” (anyone know what that is??). This ignores the fact the Shasta River is largely closed to fishing (one section is open a small part of the year), and the Scott is hardly the county’s pre-eminent destination. We call bullshit.
  • This plan was rolled out when the lone dissenter on the Board of Supervisors was out on personal leave — a move clearly designed to short-circuit public review.
  • An “advisory” committee is being created (they’d use the Natural Resource Policy as a guideline) that’s loaded with representatives of extractive industries, so the voices of fisheries people would almost never prevail.
  • The advisory committee specifically excludes Native Americans and State & Federal employees from participating — based on a nonsensical “conflict of interest” — yet it encourages participation from extractive industry folks who stand to most directly gain from its decisions.

The Bottom Line

The real agenda here is becoming clear; while the Natural Resources Plan contains dozens of pro-extractive industry provisions, Supervisor Armstrong’s real goal is to stifle any public right of access to the Scott and Shasta Rivers — and she seems willing to threaten anglers’ legal right to access the Upper Sac and McCloud to do it.

Armstrong’s wants to simply remove all state and federal oversight from the Scott and Shasta rivers, and allow her constituents to dewater them at will (which has happened in the past).

Both rivers play a vital role in the recovery of Klamath salmon (biologists estimate the Shasta River was the #1 Klamath tributary in terms of spawning and rearing habitat), and she and her cohorts have fought every attempt to protect habitat and salmon stocks.

What You Can Do

Whether you realize it or not, you guys have been on the tip of the spear on this one; your work has made a huge difference.

If you’ve already sent an e-mail, then pat yourself on the back, and have a seat; things are really starting to cook off, and more will probably be required of you soon.

If you haven’t sent a polite e-mail or called the Supervisors listed below, please take a minute to do so. Be polite, but firm — and carbon copy your e-mails to my tom.chandler@gmail.com address. We need to know the number and contents of every e-mail sent to the supervisors, especially Marcia Armstrong (we’re going to keep her honest on public input).

Tell them they’re doing significant damage to the local tourist economy with this harebrained (and likely illegal) plan, and that you’re unwilling to cede your legal right to access the Upper Sac, McCloud, Scott and Shasta Rivers.

Michael Kobseff (he supports the plan)
(530) 918-9128

Marcia Armstrong (the author and driving force behind this crazy resource grab)
(530) 468-2824

LaVada Erickson (she?s on our side, but isolated politically)
(530) 926-1285

Jim Cook (McCloud’s representative and plan supporter ? let him know how much the town stands to lose, and how we won’t forget this betrayal when he comes up for re-election)
(530) 459-0459

Bill Overman (North county rep who might see the light)
(530) 842-5389

A Personal Aside

I’m like you.

I’d be happier doing almost anything besides sitting down, getting pissed off, and writing to people who don’t care that they’re mucking with my legal right to fly fish the rivers I love.

And in truth, I’ve tried to keep the Trout Underground’s “pissed-off” environmental posts to a minimum — it’s a fly fishing blog, and you guys don’t come here to add ten points to your blood pressure (bikini posts aside).

It’s just that sometimes, you simply can’t not do it. You can’t sit and watch your legal right to fish be taken away, knowing that it won’t be brought back for your kids, or their kids.

You can’t avoid calling or writing an e-mail to someone who think’s you’re a plague on society, or calls you a “goddmaned fin hugger,” or labels you a communist because you believe “the people’s trout” is a real legal concept in a free society, not a chapter from a Marxist textbook.

You can’t close your eyes and hope somebody else takes up the fight.

You just can’t.

See you at the keyboard, Tom Chandler.

[tags]fly fishing, fishing, stream access, stream access rights, upper sacramento river, mccloud river, shasta river, scott river, siskiyou county, siskiyou county board of supervisors, jim cook, marcia armstrong, bill kobseff[/tags]