Siskiyou Supervisors Trash Fishing and
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
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
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
. 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.
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
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:
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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(2) Intake applications for public assistance has increased by
(3) October Cal Works applications: 90 (up from 60).
(4) October Food Stamps and Medi-Cal applications: 273 (up from
(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
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.