FT. JONES, Calif. – The ongoing battle between farmers, ranchers and fishing groups for water in the Klamath River Basin is heating up again. On Tuesday, the California Fish and Game Department hosted a workshop in Ft. Jones to identify parties who have a stake in Scott River water issues.
It was standing room only at the Ft. Jones Community Hall, as Scott Valley residents lined the walls for a California Fish and Game workshop meeting. That didn’t last long, once farmers and ranchers sounded off against the process. Tom Pease, who is President of Protect Our Water, or POW, says current water practices are the best hope for fish survival and for the survival of valley families.
“If we quit farming. If we quit taking water, all that water, except what was in the aquifer, would go down the river. The river would still dry up, because the water won’t come up out of the aquifer unless you pump it or whatever,” Pease explained.
“We’re gonna ask you not to participate in this process, first and foremost, because the RFP that was drafted in this process is incorrect,” said Rich Marshall, the President of the Siskiyou County Water User’s Association.
“If you say you’re going to have minimal impact, that implies that there will be an impact. So they’re gong to take property from us,” said one local resident, Mark, who opposes the C.D.F.& G. study.
“Running the valley’s finite water supply out to the ocean as fast as possible is the antitheses of what is needed. Until CDFG understands that, everyone’s time is being wasted,” explained former U.C. Professor John Menke.
Then, people started leaving, taking with them the American flag. Lee Lamb, a subcontractor helping fish and game name the interested parties explained the process to the handful left behind.
“The objective here is to get a really full discussion of these things and, and come to an understanding of who should participate in a steering committee that’s going to help uh, design the studies, etc.,” Lamb said.
Water has always been a hot topic in the Scott and Shasta River basins. This new study by Fish and Game promises to even heat that debate up further and many farmers and ranchers say they want nothing to do with this study. Another meeting on the Scott River is scheduled for this Thursday from 4-7 p.m. At the Yreka Holiday Inn Express. Two other meetings are also at the Holiday Inn Express, on December 11th and 13th to discuss the Shasta River.