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 The Pioneer Press at the very top of the State of California grants permission for this article to be copied and forwarded.

 Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California Wednesday, Sept 21, 2005 Vol 32, No. 48

Page A1, column 1

 SOSS protects water

 -- Fundraising dinner is Oct. 1.

 By Liz Bowen, Pioneer Press Assistant Editor

 YREKA, Calif. – The threat was real. Due to a possible listing of the coho salmon to the California Endangered Species Act, loss of water for agriculture was likely. And this water was and is a legal water right.

It was this scenario that prompted landowners in Shasta and Scott Valley to unite in the fall of 2001. The result was the creation of a unique coalition called Save Our Shasta and Scott Valleys.

During the first three years of its existence, SOSS leaders put Siskiyou County on the map. Many state and federal branches of government now recognize the name SOSS.

The tremendous local opposition to the endangered listing of the coho salmon engaged farmers, ranchers, businesses and even the County of Siskiyou administration; as well as the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau and Cattlemen’s Association. The custom and culture of rural Siskiyou County would be forever changed, if agriculture lost its water.

An SOSS fundraiser dinner and auction was held in April 2002 raising more than $40,000 to fight that listing and protect agricultural water. Throughout that first year, SOSS raised over $160,000, because so many folks believed in the cause.

But politics of a stronger sort affected the decision and the California Fish and Game Commission, which completed the listing to the California Endangered Species Act of the coho in August of 2004. Since then, SOSS leaders have been working with the state Department of Fish and Game and Department of Water Resources to find protection for agricultural practices. So far, farmers and ranchers still have the use of their water.


Yet, more water problems have loomed during the past year.


One successful battle was to reduce the huge cost increase of water master fees that had been proposed by the state. SOSS joined Siskiyou County’s Administrator, Howard Moody, the Farm Bureau and Cattlemen in fighting the state. But water users must be vigilant to maintain cost-effective water master fees and SOSS is on board as a watchdog.

But the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s staff has been the next frustration. It is in the final stages of establishing Total Maximum Daily Loads of “impairments” that will be allowed in the Scott and Shasta Rivers regarding water temperature, sediment and oxygen levels.

A technical water quality plan is in draft form for the Scott River, but Scott Valley ranchers have been pointing out impossibilities and incorrect data usage to the board’s staff this summer. Currently, the staff has slowed its plan to also implement the “fixes,” because of the efforts by landowners and the Scott River Watershed Council. SOSS is in support of these landowners and the council.


Supporting SOSS


A fundraising dinner and auction will be held on Oct. 1 at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds. The doors at the Winema Hall and Flower Building open at 6 p.m. with the dinner at 7 p.m.

Dinner tickets are $20 each. They are available at Scott Valley Banks in Yreka, Ft. Jones, Etna and Weed. They can also be purchased at Jim Wilson Motors in Yreka, United Country Marble Mountain Properties in Yreka, next to John's Satellite and from Larry Arkfeld.

A live auction of items including hunting trips to a ton of hay will be held after the dinner.

Last week, 5,000 letters were sent by SOSS to owners of land in Siskiyou County. The letter explained the problems facing agriculture and asked for donations.

Funds raised will be used to protect water rights and the Siskiyou custom and culture.

More $117,000 has been spent on a water-law attorney, who has led SOSS through the legal quagmire. Legal representation is expensive. Currently, SOSS has joined with other groups to sue the State of California for incorrectly listing the coho salmon to the state Endangered Species Act. So far, the timber industry is picking up the cost on this lawsuit. Yet, funds are needed to continue the vigilance and to stand-up for the rights of landowners.


Raffle winners will be announced


Luck-driven hopefuls will still be able to purchase tickets for the Polaris 4x4 ATV, also known as a “fancy four-wheeler” and a second raffle at the dinner-auction on Oct. 1.

First place in the second raffle are coveted tickets to the National Finals Rodeo in December in Las Vegas. They are for two days of rodeos, including the final go-round.

A second prize will be a GPS Garmin E-Trex, for navigation and many other high-tech uses.

Two Shasta Sunset Dinner Train tickets will go to the third place winner.




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