Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County District 5,  5/5/06

Suction Dredge Mining: Mid-Klamath River Communities are beginning to see the impact from prohibitive suction dredge mining regulations put in place last fall in response to the Karuk suit against the Department of Fish and Game. Local resort and hotel owners tell me that their establishments are empty. Grocery and shop owners tell me that their seasonal sales numbers have plummeted. Suction dredgers are local small businesspeople who make their living on dredging or seasonal recreational miners. The new regulations have hurt both, as well as all the local businesses that depend upon their trade.

Because the regulations were changed under a clause in a decade old environmental impact report, no one was able to raise current questions of social /economic impact or social justice before the regulations were changed. The unemployment rate in the area prior to regulatory impact was 19.6%. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that these communities are already struggling.

Williamson Act: Recently I heard a candidate for office say that he was in favor of eliminating the Williamson Act as it was an unfair tax-break for farmers. The California Land Conservation Act of 1965, or Williamson Act, allows Counties enter into long term (20 year automatically renewing) contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. In return, landowners receive property tax assessments which are much lower than normal because they are based upon farming and open space uses as opposed to full market value and development potential. County governments receive an annual subvention or “backfill” for loss of property tax revenues from the state through the Open Space Subvention Act of 1971.

Under Proposition 13 values, the County would normally receive $410,829 in property taxes from these lands. With the Williamson Act contract, the County actually receives $106,048 in property taxes on enrolled lands. However, the State backfills the County with an additional payment of $769,828 in “subvention” payments for a total of $875,877 to the County in revenues for Williamson Act lands. The Williamson Act is a win-win for agricultural landowners, their communities and County.

Methamphetamine: In addition to impacts on individuals and families, a tremendous amount of resources from the Court system,  law enforcement, mental health, social services and public health are being allocated to respond to the impacts of Methamphetamine. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors will host a public workshop on Tuesday, May 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Miner’s Inn Convention Center. Seating will be on a “first come, first served” basis.
Presentations will include: The physical and psychological impacts of addiction; The affect of meth addiction on family systems and children; Prevention, intervention and treatment; Environmental implications and clean up; Laws and penalties; A panel discussion on drug courts; A panel discussion on treatment and recovery. For more information call 842-8007.

Water Quality: The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is currently reviewing the Scott River Total maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Action Plan and appears to be considering additional restrictions in response to requests from Felice Pace and other coastal environmentalists. Siskiyou County has provided input and I will provide testimony at the upcoming meeting in Sacramento on June 7.

Recently, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board held a “scoping session” on additional proposed regional regulations on uses that impact wetlands and riparian areas. I provided input at the meeting concerning social and economic impacts and the environmental impact of possible agricultural land conversions.  




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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