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Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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COMMENTS: Klamath Watershed Conference 2006  Nov 7-9
(Unabridged Version)
Marcia H. Armstrong
Siskiyou County Supervisor, District 5
Today, I want to leave you with three thoughts:
(1)               The County is not an agency, a “stakeholder” or an “interest group.” It is a government.
(2)               We “feel your pain.” Do you feel ours?
(3)               It is not just about fish.
Siskiyou County is not just an agency. We are a government, and one that is accountable and closest to local people. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has jurisdiction to make law in the county and to implement law through its own agencies.
Article 11, Section 7 of the California Constitution declares that:
“A county or city may make and enforce within its limits all local,
police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict
with general laws.”
Government Code 65000 specifies that Counties “shall adopt a comprehensive, long-term general plan for the physical development of the county.” The Conservation Element of that plan addresses the conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources including water and its hydraulic force, forests, soils, rivers and other waters, fisheries, wildlife, minerals, and other natural resources.
The role of a general plan is to serve as the primary expression by the community of how the physical features and natural resources are to be maintained, utilized and enhanced, and how growth and development are expected to occur.
The County has long struggled with federal and state agencies’ failure to recognize and respect our roles and responsibilities as a government with our own land and resource use authorities and jurisdiction. When implementing federal and state policies within the county, we have tried to impress upon agencies the importance of coordinating with County government. For example, you can imagine the chaos it causes when a federal agency unilaterally announces that it is converting land zoned as prime agriculture into 50,000 acres of wetlands. County government must not be made obsolete because of a salmon crisis.

To formalize our relationship, Siskiyou County passed an ordinance -Title 10. Planning and Zoning, Chapter 12 “County Participation in State and Federal Agencies Land Transactions.” The ordinance requires early and formal notice of proposed federal and state land use plans, actions or decisions affecting land use, as well as an opportunity for County input. The notice mandates a detailed description of the proposed action, as well as an analysis of its effects on the resources, environment, customs, culture, and economic stability of the County of Siskiyou. It also requires coordination of planning and implementation.
Siskiyou County has officially accepted the strategic watershed plans of the Scott and Shasta Valleys. We have also passed a resolution endorsing $7 million in proposed restoration project for the Scott Valley and $11 million for the Shasta Valley. This is our local formal County process to assert our jurisdiction in establishing overall consistency of these proposals with our General Plan and Conservation Element, and to express our support. At this time, there are no other watershed plans or projects that have been officially accepted by Siskiyou County.
When I say we feel your pain, do you feel ours? – it is not to diminish the social and economic impact of regulations in your communities. It is to make sure that you are aware that we have already shared in the burden of severe regulatory impacts. All the communities of the Klamath are suffering and, from the rhetoric I have heard, this is not readily apparent.  
Siskiyou County has a population of about 45,000. It is 6,600 square miles large and about 63% of its land base locked up in federally or state managed lands. Of the 4,083,843 acres in Siskiyou County, 1,153,246 acres are in farms and ranches and 2,525,216 acres in woodland and forest.
The economy of Siskiyou County is a $148 million agricultural industry; a $53.5 million tourism industry; and a $48 million timber industry. Our manufacturing base consists mainly of 2 plywood veneer mills and one stainless steel scientific instrument manufacturer. There is little diversity. Our timber industry has already been decimated and regulatory attacks on our agricultural economy are hurting us. 
Since 1998, Siskiyou County's agriculture industries have experienced substantial job loss at 420 jobs, declining almost 35%. Several farming communities have high poverty rates: 34.6% in Tulelake; 26% in Fort Jones; and 24.2% in Montague.
There is not that much land that is irrigated in the Scott and Shasta Valleys. Shasta Valley is 795 sq. miles, but only 55,000 acres are irrigated. Scott Valley is 814 sq. miles, but only 32,443 acres are irrigated. Of all lands, only about 138,000 acres are irrigated. The number of acres irrigated have declined from 1982, when they totaled 151,495 acres.
As an illustration of the impacts of potential agricultural regulation on the economy, in April of 1988, an economic analysis was done by Siskiyou County on the impacts to agriculture if NOAA Fisheries imposed a 300 foot riparian buffer barring any farm and ranch activity. The following is from the impact analysis on Scott Valley alone:
The 300 foot buffer areas comprise about 11,215 acres – more than 35% of total irrigated agriculture in Scott Valley. Grazing losses from the buffer were estimated at $1,074,870 Hay losses were $2,061,000. The total annual loss in production in 1998 due to buffer strips in Scott Valley was estimated to be $3,135,870.
It now appears that the Water Quality Control Board is about to impose similar restrictions on riparian area use.   
As I stated, we have already lived through the regulatory decimation of our timber industry. In 1989 before the Northwest Forest Plan and Aquatic Conservation Strategy, the Klamath National Forest, alone, harvested 320 million board feet of timber. Last year, only 18 million board feet were harvested and this year, only 14 million is anticipated to be harvested from the KNF. Total timber harvest in the county   has declined from about 550 million board feet in 1989, to 239 in 2004. In 1990, 1452 people were employed in the wood products industry in Siskiyou County. By 1999, only 430 were employed and by 2004, only 186 were employed.
There have been associated demographic impacts from these regulations. We have seen 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. School enrollment since 1990 has declined 25 to 30%.
Average unemployment in the county since the Northwest Forest Plan & Aquatic Conservation Strategy has been 12.3%. It is 19% on the Klamath River. In 2003, only 39.5% of the population was in the labor force. This is projected to decline 8.7% by 2015.  Between 1990 and 2002, poverty rose 32.9% to 18.6% of the population. Median income for the county in 1999 was $29,530 – compared to the California median of $47,493. 
So you see, this cannot be just about fish. If we are to succeed, this must be about putting the needs and goals of every group and community on the table and embracing them all as our own. We must advocate for each other if we are to compete with other areas for funding and resources. As a small population, we can no longer afford to play tug of war with our resources. We must all get on the same side of the rope with the problems on the other side.
Thank you. 
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