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County letter calls for coordination

By David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News March 2, 2009

Yreka, Calif. - The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors recently approved a letter to the new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, requesting Salazar’s attention to Title 43 of the United States Code, Section 1712 regarding land management.

The letter, drafted by Siskiyou County Counsel Tom Guarino, references section C (9) of the code, which reads in full, “[the Secretary shall] to the extent consistent with the laws governing the administration of the public lands, coordinate the land use inventory, planning, and management activities of or for such lands with the land use planning and management programs of other Federal departments and agencies and of the States and local governments within which the lands are located, including, but not limited to the statewide outdoor recreation plans developed under the Act of September 3, 1964 (78 Stat. 897), as amended, and of or for Indian tribes by, among other things, considering the policies approved State and tribal land management programs.

“In implementing this directive, the Secretary shall, to the extent he finds practical, keep apprised of State, local, and tribal land use plans; assure that consideration is given to those State, local, and tribal plans that are germane in the development of land use plans for public lands; assist in resolving, to the extent pratical, inconsistencies between Federal and non–Federal Government plans, and shall provide for meaningful public involvement of State and local government officials, both elected and appointed, in the development of land use programs, land use regulations, and land use decisions for public lands, including early public notice of proposed decisions which may have a significant impact on non–Federal lands.

“Such officials in each State are authorized to furnish advice to the Secretary with respect to the development and revision of land use plans, land use guidelines, land use rules, and land use regulations for the public lands within such State and with respect to such other land use matters as may be referred to them by him.

“Land use plans of the Secretary under this section shall be consistent with State and local plans to the maximum extent he finds consistent with Federal law and the purposes of this Act.”

The argument in the letter focuses on the phrases concerning inclusion of local governments in the decision-making process, which the letter claims has not been done.

“It is the County’s position that it has not been meaningfully included in the process and in fact, given the manner in which the current activities are being conducted with respect to the proposed removal of the dams on the Klamath River, the County is being effectively substantively excluded while facially being allowed to participate,” the letter reads.

The letter states that the “local governments” mentioned in the code include local cities, irrigation districts, school districts and possibly Resource Conservation Districts, and the issue of the city of Yreka’s water supply is also raised.

Asked if the “coordination” mentioned in the code still applies even though much of the land in question is not public land, Guarino answered in an interview Friday that the project is of such magnitude that it would effect all non–federal public land surrounding the dams and reservoirs, which he claims will require a coordinated effort between federal authorities and the County of Siskiyou.

The letter states, “We respectfully request that you review the actions undertaken by your predecessor and commit on behalf of your department to working with the County of Siskiyou in a meaningful manner and providing an equal place at the table for the representatives of the county subject to this proposal.”

Guarino, along with the Board of Supervisors and other county officials, believes that the effort to achieve coordination will not go unrewarded and will lead to “getting the Siskiyou County voice out there.”

As of Friday afternoon, no response had come from the Department of the Interior, but Guarino said that the effort will continue while the county waits for an answer.

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