In a lawsuit filed Friday in Siskiyou County Superior Court, the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau is asking the court to prevent the California Department of Fish and Game from enforcing its new interpretation of a 50-year-old law.
“Farmers and ranchers in Siskiyou County are now in the impossible position of either complying with (DFG’s) new interpretation of the Fish and Game Code, or continuing to extract water pursuant to their water rights under the longstanding application, meaning, interpretation and enforcement of the code and thereby risking civil and criminal prosecution,” the lawsuit states.
At issue in the case is a section of the code that requires water users to obtain a permit from the DFG before diverting or obstructing the natural flow of a stream. For decades since the section became law in 1961, the DFG has required such permits for activities such as gravel mining, the annual construction of push-up dams, installation of new headgates and other projects.
But now, the DFG has informed farmers along the Scott and Shasta river watersheds that they will be required to obtain such permits simply to exercise their longstanding water rights by opening an existing headgate or activating an existing pump in order to irrigate their crops.
The lawsuit describes that as a “fundamental change” in the application of the code that will have a “profound effect” on farmers by placing them under threat of enforcement action, requiring them to pay fees and requiring them to undergo the time and expense of obtaining the permits. The lawsuit says these new obligations jeopardize both water rights and property rights for farmers and ranchers.
The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau lawsuit is more narrowly focused than a suit filed last year by the California Farm Bureau Federation; the CFBF suit was later withdrawn.
The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau is a voluntary membership organization that works to protect and promote agricultural interests throughout Siskiyou County and to protect and improve the availability of food and fiber through responsible stewardship of resources.
Comment by CRAIG CHENOWETH:
Well I sure hope Siskiyou County FB can do what California FB failed to do. Know one has to question my option FB these days, seeing how badly the have failed to bring the two most costly law suites any where close to completion.
You know, the other elephant in the room. The law suite against DWR for stealing our money for our ponds.
I do hope FB prevails. Because I am afraid if they do fail, there may be more blood flowing in Scott Valley than water.