At a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Supervisors discussed the plan and coordination efforts with the NMFS.
Natural Resource Policy Specialist Ric Costales began the meeting by offering an overview of the plan and comments that have been made on behalf of the county.
Costales said the plan is important to the supervisors and people of Siskiyou County because it “sets the standards by which we can be free from a regulatory environment.” In an area where “things aren’t getting any better,” Costales said it is “critical” that a recovery plan be presented that is “achievable.”
To try and determine whether the NMFS plan is achievable, the county hired a consultant to review the 2,000-page document and make comments. In addition, an ad-hoc committee of 17 county residents was formed to do the same.
Costales outlined some key points highlighted by the consultant, which include what he called the lack of science and technical support in the document, the doubt that the ideal number of Coho and steelhead in the rivers are achievable under the plan, and the fact that the model is not one that is universally accepted.
“They want the numbers to get back to the level of production they only think was there before human impact,” Costales said.
District 1 Supervisor Jim Cook said those numbers were “come up with out of thin air,” and Costales said the consultant found that many ideas were made “truth by assertion.”
District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong called the plan a “non-credible document” that makes “blanket assumptions.”
“This is all based on innuendo, bias and prejudice,” she said. “It’s all meant to meet an agenda.”
Mike Duguay, chair of the ad-hoc committee, summarized some of the group’s comments for the board. He characterized the plan as a “blame and punishment document, not a fix and restore document.”
He said the NMFS gives little credit for the work that is already being done. The plan doesn’t provide an alternative to dam removal, blames low flows on the agricultural community, erodes property and water rights, and offers very little advice as to what needs to be done to make recovery possible.
Duguay said the supervisors need to be “cheerleaders” for the county when dealing with the NMFS and the plan.
The supervisors will let their opinions be known at a coordination meeting they are inviting the NMFS to on Aug. 23 at 9 a.m. in the supervisors’ chambers.
Costales said NMFS personnel have said they are not yet willing to talk about the plan in a public setting since it is not ready for public distribution. But coordination meetings require a quorum of the board, which makes the meeting fall under the Brown Act and open to the public.
“I think the public is fed up with secret
meetings,” Armstrong said.
The other supervisors agreed and said the NMFS needs to take their comments into consideration.
“We need to make sure they know we’re serious and we’re not going away,” District 4 Supervisor Grace Bennett said.
So the board will invite the NMFS to the coordination meeting and send the organization a letter demanding coordination.