[Update: Over 100 emails as of Monday PM! The Undergrounders are animals -- thanks to each and every one of you.]

I’m pissed. For the past week and half, I’ve been playing “nice” around the Siskiyou County Natural Resources Plan — the one that threatens our legal right to access and fish the rivers of Siskiyou County.

Those days are over.

The vote on this train wreck of a Natural Resource Plan is next Tuesday (11/13), and based on an alarming e-mail from someone who should know, we’re apparently on the verge of losing this thing (a week ago, I heard otherwise).

So the hell with “toning it down” for the benefit of any squeamish organizations.

Time to get back in the saddle.

I’m going to lay out all the ugly stuff below, but in case you’re not in the mood to peg your blood pressure by reading about a bunch of political bullshit of gigantic proportions, I’ll start with the call to action.

That way, you can skip the political crap, and just do what’s needed to protect your right to fish the Scott and Shasta Rivers (not to mention the Upper Sac and McCloud).

Deal?

Here’s What’s Gotta Happen

I need as little as 90 seconds of your time. My only admonition? Be polite! You’ll see why below.

You’re simply going to email three of the supervisors and also “cc” the county clerk (and copy me).

Why the clerk? To make sure these emails become part of the official record, which may not have happened to your earlier emails. (How’s that make you feel?)

Here’s What We Need to Say

We’re going to stick to the basics. No need to clutter your e-mail with anything beyond your name and the issues that matter. If you’ve only got 45 seconds, then simply cut and paste my bullet points, add your name and a closing line, and mail away.

If you’ve got a couple minutes, rewrite my stuff so the supervisors can’t devalue your effort by calling it a “form letter campaign.”

Still, what counts here is volume. If we can send the fisher-friendly supervisor into that meeting room with 100 emails — if we can jam the Supervisor’s packets with a triple-digit outpouring of “the public is watching you” — we might be able to turn this thing.

Maybe.

Here are the bullet points:

  • The Proposed Natural Resources Plan and Committee damages Siskiyou County’s sustainable, renewable tourist economy. Fishermen won’t come here, even if just the Scott and Shasta Rivers are declared non-navigable (though the plan clearly includes “all” rivers in the county). When half the County’s tourist-related businesses start suffering, what will the Board of Supervisors do?
  • The Proposed Natural Resources Plan and Committee Ordinance avoids public comment. Modoc County invested eight months writing their plan, and held a half-dozen public meetings. Siskiyou County’s draft policy document shuns public input, and was apparently written by one person — who somehow retains the “right” to accept or decline public comment. How is that good public process?
  • The Proposed Natural Resources Plan practically guarantees expensive, wasteful legal challenges. Despite one supervisor’s protestations to the contrary, a half hour of research makes it clear the Scott, Shasta, Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers qualify as “navigable” under Federal and State definitions. It’s also clear that all rivers not designated non-navigable are to be considered navigable (not vice versa). Why are we essentially asking for lawsuits — which the county will lose?
  • Any suggestions the navigability of rivers “was frozen at statehood” ignores the Fall River decision (and others), where attempts to impede public access to navigable rivers were thrown back by lawsuits.

Don’t use abusive or accusatory language (two of the names on the list above are our friends). One supervisor’s been whining about the small number of nasty emails (the same guy who cryptically accuses Trout Underground e-mail writers of being “misinformed”  — and repeatedly characterized your public input as “bizarre and irrational”).

The only whining they get to do comes after they’ve lost their attempt to run you off “their” rivers.

Otherwise, Supervisor Marcia Armstrong — who’s already trying to pack the Natural Resources Committee with her hand-picked cronies; who is already deciding which public comments are acceptable; and who wrote this ridiculous, illegal natural resource policy — will win.

And we lose.

Also, if you know any business owners up here who depend on fishermen to make a living, then drop them an email. Let them know that their own Board of Supervisors are willing to sacrifice south county businesses so extractive industries can prosper.

That’s the action plan. From here on down is just more fuel for the fire.

Why the Hell Are We Doing This Again?

I don’t even know where to start. If you’re new to this issue, you can see all my posts on the subject by clicking here.

The single best post on the subject can be found here.

Essentially, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors want to implement a set of Natural Resource Policies that designates all the rivers in the county as “non-navigable.”

That would deny you the right to fish those rivers where they adjoin private property. What’s worse, they’re all clearly navigable under state and federal definitions.

The plan is essentially one gift to extractive industry after another, and contains so many outrageous policies, it’s hard to know where to start.

Supervisor Armstrong will tell you she’s simply codifying policies the county’s already committed to, but It’s hard to call this anything but a ridiculous power grab on behalf of her extractive resource buddies.

In addition to the legally brain dead non-navigability stipulation, others sections say the only real use for water is to grow grass for livestock, that unchecked suction dredge mining is environmentally benign, and that publicly owned forest and rangelands must be managed for maximum cattle and timber yields (all other uses are secondary).

Sounds great, eh? There’s plenty more where those came from.

A Cloud of Misleading Statements and Obfuscation

Most galling has been the cloud of misleading statements around this from the start, and despite the fact that Ms. Armstrong has been caught with her hand in the extractive resource cookie jar, she’s attempting to brazen it out.

In my own email to the supervisors — which provided clear evidence of the illegality of designating the county rivers as non-navigable — Armstrong’s response was the political equivalent of sticking her fingers in her ears and humming a song.

Apparently, the concept at work here is that repeating false information often enough makes it come true.

No, the rivers in this county weren’t frozen in a non-navigable status at statehood. No, the Shasta and Scott Rivers haven’t “long been held as non-navigable.”

None of that matters.

Of course, we were assured from the beginning that this plan was based on one instituted by Modoc County, and that also turned out to be a real whopper.

Modoc County actually bothered to get public input and formed a committee to develop their plan. In this case, Marcia Armstrong has already written the plan — long before the natural resource advisory committee has even been formed.

Hell — the County’s existing Natural Resource Director wasn’t even consulted on this plan.

And all the above ignores the reality that the county can’t even legislate most of the items in the plan.

And I could go into what appear to be attempts to pack the not-yet-formed committee with extractive-friendly cohorts, but that’s another post.

For now, I know this plan is moving closer to getting approved, and I’m sitting here typing this garbage instead of heading out on the river and throwing tailing loops at trout.

See you fighting the good fight, Tom Chandler.

[tags]fly fishing, fishing, stream access, river access, [/tags]