Friday, December 16, 2011

Siskiyou County declares jurisdiction over Scott River water

It was buried deep below the lead, but on December 7th, 2011 the Yreka-based Siskiyou Daily News broke what could become a big story.

The front page news item by John Bowman reported on the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisor’s decision not to participate in a California Department of Fish & Games Scot River flow study. But several paragraphs in, Bowman reported Supervisor Marcia Armstrong declaring that Siskiyou County – not the State – has jurisdiction over Scott River Basin water.  Here’s what Armstrong said:

           “as the County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, we have jurisdiction over flows, not [the DFG].”

 In recent decades Scott River has been dewatered as a result of illegal, year-around irrigation and unlimited groundwater pumping for irrigation. The Forest Service right to flows for fish in Scott River is now not met every year

Now we all know that talk is cheap. In spite of the fact that the Siskiyou County Supervisors have diverted money from services to citizens in order to beef up the county counsel’s office - and in spite of the considerable sound and fury they unleash on federal and state officials whenever they have the opportunity - so far the majority faction we call “the Four Stuporvisors of the Imaginary Kingdom of Siskiyou” have yet to file even one lawsuit backing up their claims of jurisdiction.

Will they put their lawyers where their mouth is?

So which is it: are the Four Stuporvisors just blowing hot air or are they willing to put that new stable of lawyers to work? KlamBlog offers each of them – Jim Cook, Grace Bennett, Michael Kobseff and Marcia Armstrong - all the space on KlamBlog they desire in order to explain themselves to the people. 

KlamBlog will offer a prediction:  Should the Four Stuporvisors actually believe what they are spouting and should they have sufficient courage to pursue those beliefs in court (which we doubt), their case claiming jurisdiction over Scott River water would be thrown out at the first hearing. It would also be the occasion for uproars of laughter in every law firm specializing in water law from here to Alaska and back down to Southern Arizona.

Here’s why we can predict with absolute confidence that such a case would quickly land in the court’s dustbin:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Politics gone wild…and two rays of light.

Recently Mike Tbompson and Jeff Merkley introduced legislation in the US Congress to authorize and fund the Klamath Dam and Water Deals. That prompted a new eruption of verbiage from the usual cast of Klamath Deal promoters and detractors who have been all over the media competing to spin public opinion.

We won’t publish any of those editorials and web postings because they do little more than repeat the same tired arguments residents of the Basin have been hearing for far too long now. KlamBlog wishes these spinmeisters could come up with some new arguments – or at least some new and more entertaining ways to present their propaganda.  

What we do publish in this post are recent statements by the two Congresspersons who currently represent the vast majority of California’s Klamath River Basin residents – Wally Herger and Mike Thompson. We also comment on the two men’s statements.

Then, from the “rays of light” department, we publish and comment on what we believe are notable exceptions to an increasingly dark outlook for resolution one way or the other of the impasse over the costly and controversial KBRA and KHSA – the Klamath Dam and Water Deals.

The first ray of light is an announcement from the Klamath Tribes that their treaty water rights – which have been affirmed by the Supreme Court - have been quantified in Oregon’s Upper Basin Adjudication.

Along the Wood River above Upper Klamath Lake 
Most of the Klamath Tribes' water rights are located above Upper Klamath Lake

The second is an editorial by Bill Cross of Ashland, Oregon. Bill represents the group American Whitewater in the Klamath River Basin. He is an avid whitewater enthusiast and instructor who has spent a lot of time on the Klamath River. Bill is an unpaid volunteer for the river advocacy group which, so far, has steered clear of Klamath deal-making. You can find more information on AW’s Klamath Restoration Project at this link.