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.