Yreka, Calif. — The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors had unexpected guests for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, hearing directly from California Department of Fish and Game Director John McCamman during public comments.
McCamman told the board that he was attending the meeting with a group of other DFG employees, including Deputy Director Susan LaGrande, Northern Region District Manager Neil Manji and Curt Babcock, and that they had been meeting with a number of people in Siskiyou County to discuss the state of watershed-wide permits.
The DFG’s watershed-wide permitting program was instituted as part of the coho recovery strategy for the Shasta and Scott rivers, putting participating water users in compliance with streambed alteration regulations and regulations associated with the incidental “take” of species listed under the California Endangered Species Act.
McCamman told the board that he and his group are in the county to discuss the issue with water users because the watershed-wide program will likely be tossed out by the courts, referencing a recent preliminary ruling that stated that the program does not sufficiently protect the environment.
With the potential termination of the current permitting program, McCamman stated that unless and until another program is formulated, water users will be reduced to two options for complying with ESA regulations – going through the costly application processes on their own or simply going without and risking enforcement action from the state agency.
Continuing, McCamman told the board that he wants to meet with the communities affected by the regulations before moving in any direction, explaining that he wants to address the communities’ concerns while trying to meet ESA requirements.
McCamman stated that he had met with representatives of the affected Resource Conservation Districts and that over the course of the next couple of days will be meeting with others. A member of the Scott Valley Protect Our Water group noted before the meeting that the DFG representatives were planning a meeting with that group as well.
– David Smith can be reached at email@example.com