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Siskiyou Supervisors Trash Fishing and Cal Trout
By Felice Pace March 21, 2009

The Siskiyou County Supervisors have a reputation in government circles; discussion of their antics usually provokes laughter and the shaking of heads. That was the case recently when a newspaper report on the Siskiyou Supervisors March 10th meeting revealed the supervisors' attitudes toward salmon and the fishermen's group Cal Trout.

Siskiyou County Supervisors never miss an opportunity to posture and rant about how this or that environmental protection is destroying the county economy. The latest opportunity was a report by the firm of McBain and Trush on a Shasta River flow study. Marcia Armstrong, who represents western Siskiyou County, including the Scott River Valley, complained that "everything is for fish, and everything else is going to the john." She then proclaimed that fishing is no longer a vital activity in the county.

Supervisor Armstrong was expressing her hope rather than describing reality. Numerous economic studies document the benefits that steelhead and salmon continue to contribute to Klamath River Communities. Those economic benefits could be much larger however. A report from the United States Geological Survey estimated the economic benefits of restored Klamath River fisheries to local and regional communities in the billions of dollars. http://www.klamathbasin.info/USGSReport.pdf . While even the current depressed fisheries bring significant revenue to Klamath River communities, Armstrong only recognizes mining, logging and agriculture as contributing to local well being.

Supervisor Jim Cook agreed with Armstrong. He also expressed his opinion of Cal Trout: "This is the first time I've seen anything that Cal Trout has been involved with that wasn't a piece of crap," he concluded. He was referring to the flow study which the Department of Fish and Game contracted with Cal Trout to complete. The fishing organization hired McBain and Trush to do the work.

The ideological positions adopted by the Siskiyou Supervisors have sometimes harmed the interest of their citizens. The March 18th edition of the Siskiyou Daily News, for example, reported the purchase of Big Springs Ranch by The Nature Conservancy, including this statement: The conservancy hopes to alleviate regulatory pressures on ranchers along the rest of the river systems¦..She explained that this can hopefully be achieved with the improvements on the land now owned by the conservancy.

This is not the first time that the Big Springs Area was targeted for restoration. The BLM tried to purchase the wetlands and springs in the area a decade ago for the same purposes and was blocked by the Siskiyou County Supervisors. The Supervisors are ideologically opposed to new public ownership. The private entity that subsequently purchased the land diverted more water from Big Springs – harming Coho, other fisheriess and downstream irrigators. Had the BLM been allowed to purchase Big Springs Ranch in exchange for selling more acreage elsewhere in the county, the Coho would likely not be as imperiled as they now are in the Shasta River. The current burden on landowners to provide for fish and water quality would also likely be lower if the Supervisors' opposition had not blocked the project.

As in the case with the BLM and Big Springs wetlands, the Siskiyou Supervisors' ideological stances have consistently and persistently delayed restoration and encouraged degradation of salmon habitat. Ignored problems don't go away, they just get bigger and require bigger changes and dislocations when they are finally faced. By refusing to recognize problems and to support real solutions, the Siskiyou Supervisors contribute to conditions which result in ESA designations, Clean Water Act impairment listings and environmental litigation.

There is an old saying that some folks would rather curse the darkness than light a light. To KlamBlog that adage describes the Siskiyou Supervisors to a tee.
Response by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor 3/21/09

Perhaps Mr. Pace should review the post Northwest Forest Plan Socioeconomic Monitoring of the Klamath National Forest - Mid Klamath area http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr764.pdf (PDF pages 83-91 or document pages 70-78) to become more educated on the affects to Klamath River Communities of all the timber appeals and lawsuits that he and other environmentalists filed.

Here is a quote from that study regarding the declining economic impact of salmon and steelhead fisheries:
         "The Mid-Klamath was once a nationally-renowned steelhead fishing area, evidenced by a road sign at the entrance to Happy Camp that reads “Steelhead Capital of the World.” Fishing brought recreationists to the area and created opportunities to work as fishing guides. However, fish populations declined significantly in the late 1980s and early 1990s, fishing seasons were reduced or eliminated, and guiding requirements became much more strict, making this option no longer attractive to most people. Interviewees reported that fish populations were rebounding in the early 2000s, bringing hope that they may again attract visitors to the area."

My comments expressed my personal belief that we need to concentrate on the socioeconomic needs of the PEOPLE of Siskiyou County, which are serious and considerable. The salmon and steelhead fisheries no longer provide a significant contribution to our local economy. Considering the facts that follow, at this point we need to focus our energies on immediate human issues.

For instance, the Board of Supervisors is agressively seeking grants to improve or create water and sewer systems in our unicorporated communities. We are working to create a better public transportation system and retain rail service. The College of the Siskiyous will open a regional rural medical training facility in the fall. We have a regional firefighting, EMT program and a law enforcement school. We are encouraging the future expansion of natural resource management training and associated technology transfer through the college. We have obtained a countywide Enterprise Zone Designation, which we are marketing to attract business and to help business grow. We need to keep utility rates low as a selling point. Diversification and growth of our economy and the creation of jobs must be top priorities.

I, for one, would like to see a robust and impartial cumulative affects analysis of the socioeconomic impact of various regulations - PNWFP, ESA/CESA, Clean Water Act/TMDLs and dam removal on Siskiyou County and the Klamath River corridor. I suspect that some if not most of our current human issues will be seen to have a connection with environmental regulatory restrictions on economic activities. Certainly, the KNF monitoring study seems to point in that direction.

Marcia H. Armstrong, Supervisor District 5
Siskiyou County 

(1)   Siskiyou County’s population is 44,700. Sixty nine percent of the population lives outside the three major cities.
(2)   Over the past two decades, there was a decrease in the population aged 30-39, (as well as school aged children,) and an increase in the population aged 50-59, with those aged 60 making up a higher percentage of the population than the state average. This aging trend is projected to steadily increase over the next 20 years.    
(3)   School enrollment since 1990 has declined from 25-30%.
(4)   In the 1960s, one out of nine people in the County was a Senior 60 years or older. In 2005, one out of four people was a senior. By 2010, it is projected that 30% will be seniors and in 21015, one out of every three people will be a senior. In 2010, there will be approximately 4,100 people in the County between 70 and 79 years old and 2,800 people 80 years or older (Total population 45,900.) The communities with the highest Senior population are: Etna and Mcdoel at 27%; McCloud at 26%; Yreka at 24% and Mt. Shasta and Weed at 21%.
(1)   Siskiyou County has experienced long term economic distress. The median household income overall is around $32,531
(2)   According to the new 2007 California County Data Book, Siskiyou County is now dead last in all California Counties in family economic well-being, having the lowest median income at $30,356, compared to $112,155 for San Mateo County and $56,332 for California as a whole. 65% of households with children ages 0-17 are low income, compared with a California average of 43%. The report notes that 27% of Siskiyou County’s children live in official poverty, compared to 19% for the state.
(3)   Between 1990 and 2002, official poverty rose 32.9% to 18.6% of the total population. Several farming communities have higher poverty rates: 26% in Fort Jones (Scott Valley); and 24.2% in Montague (Shasta Valley.)
(4)   In November 2008, the unemployment rate was 12.2% - ranking the county 48th highest out of 58 counties. In 2003, only 39.5% of the population was in the labor force. This is projected to decline another 8.7% by 2015.  (It is currently in excess of 17 %.)
(5)   In a total population of only 44,700, from July 2007 to June 2008 nearly 900 children were referred to Siskiyou County Child Protective Services. Estimates indicate that at least 75% of the families of these children have significant substance abuse issues. In 2007, Siskiyou County had nearly 2 times the number of substantiated child abuse cases than the state of California as a whole.
(6)   The 2004 report entitled “Community Indicators of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Risk for Siskiyou County” (CA Dept. of Alcohol and Drug) indicates that from 2000-2002 in Siskiyou County, there were 132.1 emergency responses per 1,000 population under the age 18 for child endangerment/abuse. This compares with a statewide average of 68.6 per 1,000. County Foster care placements were 18. 9 per 1,000, compared with a statewide average of 10.3.
(7)   According to an October 2008 study by Meredith Bailey entitled “A Review of Intimate Partner Violence in Siskiyou County,” the rate of Type I crimes (aggravated assault, robbery and forcible rape,) is much greater in Siskiyou County than in Los Angeles. In fact aggravated assault is about five times greater. Siskiyou County also dominates the surrounding counties of Humboldt, Shasta, Lassen and Del Norte County in the rate of these crimes. The report points to “social strain” fueled by alcohol and drug use as the cause. Another report indicates that the majhor depression rate for siskiyou County is 12.5%, while the national rate is 8.5%. The suicide rate in Siskiyou County is 18.8 per 100,000 compared to a national rate of 10.7.  
(8)   The report entitled “Community Indicators of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Risk for Siskiyou County” states that from 1999-2001 the annual rate of DUI arrests for Siskiyou County was 13.3 per 1000 people aged 18-69, while the average for the State of California is only 8.4. The total arrests for alcohol-related offenses (excluding DUI) was per 13.2 per 1000 people aged 18-69 in Siskiyou County, while the rate for California is only 5.9.  In 1998-2000, the rate of alcohol related fatalities was 149.4 per 100,000 drivers in Siskiyou County and an average of in the entire State was 98.1. Other reports show that juvenile arrests for alcohol and drug offenses are 15.7 per 1,000 - nearly double the state at 9.1 per 1,000. The rate of chronic drinking is 25% above the national rates.      
(1)   Other than two plywood veneer mills and Nor-Cal, Siskiyou County has almost no manufacturing industry. There is very little economic diversity, with almost the entire economy based upon continued access to natural resources.
(2)   Agriculture produces $170 million in revenue. The average net cash profitability of local farms and ranches is $29,747. (Most are family operated. Many are heritage “Century Ranches” that have been in existence since the mid 19th century and have stayed in a pioneer family.)
(3)   In 2002, average annual sales per farm were approximately $137,000 per farm, but input costs were $107,386.
(4)   According to Cal. D.O.T. Siskiyou County Economic Forecast, since 1995, Siskiyou County's agriculture industries have experienced substantial job loss at about 586 jobs, declining almost 45%. For instance, since 1996, county vegetable crops have declined in their contribution to the economy from $18.9 million to $11.8 million - or 38 percent. (Much of this is due to regulatory pressures, such as the water crisis in the Upper Klamath Basin.)
(5)   Tourism (mostly in the south county – Sacramento River Region) is valued at $60 million.
(6)   What is left of our timber industry brings in about $48 million in revenues to be circulated. Logging jobs have steadily decreased from 951 jobs in 1989, to 331 in 1995, to 186 in 2004.
Current Economic Trends
(1)   The Roseburg mill at Weed recently laid off 30 employees.
(2)   Intake applications for public assistance has increased by 30%
(3)   October Cal Works applications:  90 (up from 60).
(4)   October Food Stamps and Medi-Cal applications:  273 (up from 180).
(5)   In October 2008, there were 48 unemployment insurance applications –this time last year there were 12.
(6)   In October 2008, we had 745 people served in our Work Force Connection Center (employment services one stop – up from 453 last year this time). In November 2008, we had 893 people served in our Work Force Connection Center for employment services.
(7)   For November 2008, Human Services case loads were:
      a.      Cal Works:  818 people
      b.      Number of Persons Receiving Food Stamps were 4,132 with $507,766 in food stamps issued.
      c.      There were 1,378 people on Medi-Cal (However, 41.9% of those eligible are not enrolled.)
      d.      There were 379 people on County Medical Services Program
      e.      There were 60 people on General Assistance
(8)   For October, November and December 2008 Siskiyou County Human Services  had an average of 1,700 people per month come through their reception doors.  This is an increase of 500 per month over our historic numbers.

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