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Stream Suction Dredging - Can we stop this?

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I don't know how many of you are aware of what is going on in Siskiyou County, CA, but it seems a belligerent county board is determined to take away access to rivers which are wonderful trout fisheries and turn them over to private land owners to do as they will. In particular, it appears that gold-mining suction dredgers are behind this. You can imagine what that is going to do to the rivers.


I've been following this saga for more than a month now on the Trout Underground website (http://troutunderground.com/ ). You can read all about it in the archives. Anyhow, there has been a request made to let other people know about this and send a polite letter of concern to the county board members with a cc to the county clerk and a cc to Tom Chandler who is one of the people trying to stop this locomotive.


The whole thing sounds a bit underhanded if not downright illegal with the county board simply ignoring the CA state definitions of navigable waterways, but a lot of damage can be done to the environment if they pass their Natural Resource Plan even if it is eventually challenged and overturned in court.


Here are the people to copy on the email:


* Michael Kobseff (mkobseff@co.siskiyou.ca.us)

* Bill Overman (bandm@nctv.com)

* LaVada Erickson (erickson5031@sbcglobal.net)

* cc -Colleen Setzer, County Clerk (csetzer@co.siskiyou.ca.us)

* cc -Trout Underground (tom.chandler@gmail.com)


Here are the major points to make:

* The Proposed Natural Resources Plan and Committee damages Siskiyou County’s sustainable, renewable tourist economy. Fishermen won’t come here, even if just the Scott and Shasta Rivers are declared non-navigable (though the plan clearly includes “all” rivers in the county). When half the County’s tourist-related businesses start suffering, what will the Board of Supervisors do?

* The Proposed Natural Resources Plan and Committee Ordinance avoids public comment. Modoc County invested eight months writing their plan, and held a half-dozen public meetings. Siskiyou County’s draft policy document shuns public input, and was apparently written by one person — who somehow retains the “right” to accept or decline public comment. How is that good public process?

* The Proposed Natural Resources Plan practically guarantees expensive, wasteful legal challenges. Despite one supervisor’s protestations to the contrary, a half hour of research makes it clear the Scott, Shasta, Upper Sacramento and McCloud Rivers qualify as “navigable” under Federal and State definitions. It’s also clear that all rivers not designated non-navigable are to be considered navigable (not vice versa). Why are we essentially asking for lawsuits — which the county will lose?

* Any suggestions the navigability of rivers “was frozen at statehood” ignores the Fall River decision (and others), where attempts to impede public access to navigable rivers were thrown back by lawsuits.


Finally, here is the letter I sent:


Dear County Board Member,


I don't live in your county, but I am concerned about it. A prime draw for me and other visitors is access to the county rivers for kayaking and fishing - not to mention the natural beauty of your streams and rivers. As I understand from reading the Natural Resource Plan, it would significantly limit public access to Siskiyou county rivers and streams. This, of course, would cause me and others to search elsewhere for recreational rivers.


I have been following the progress of the plan with interest and am concerned about the following issues:


- Inadequate consideration of public comment

- The legality of the plan and ultimate court challenges

- The plan seems to ignore the CA state definitions for a navigable river


Finally, I am ultimately alarmed that the plan will result in a major disruption of the environment and freeing of toxins that have been buried in the streambeds since the gold rush days. For example, did you know that during the gold rush days, 75 million pounds of mercury were used in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta? How much was used in your county and how much environment poisoning is going to happen if miners are allowed to disturb the stream beds?


There are a lot of people and organizations across the US and the world that are aware of what you are doing and are concerned. It is time to put away the pioneer mentality and care for our environment and natural resources. There are no more frontiers and we know that only a few will benefit from suction dredging of streams while the vast majority of the county and state population will suffer the consequences. Please do your job and protect the resources for all of us.




- Kevin McKiou

Naperville, IL



If you have a few minutes, drop them an email.


- Kevin

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Salty over at BusterWantsToFish.com says:


In the ongoing battle with the Siskiyou County Commision in California, where said “commision” has a few board members led by uber harpy Marcia Armstrong that are tryng to usurp Federal and State law and declare the county’s rivers non-navigable, and thereby kick the anglers off and hand over the natural resources to suction dredge mining, clear cutting and overgrazing of cattle on public land.


If you’re kicking back right now and saying “I’ll never fish there, why should I get involved”, remember, our legal system is based on English Common Law, so precedent carries a lot of weight. If they can pull it off in Siskiyou County, trust me, your County Board might try this too.


Time to issue that collective “F* That” and here’s how we do it and it’ll take you about 2 minutes. Copy and Paste courtesey of TC over at The Trout Underground cause he wrote it better than I could.




I find what is going on in Siskiyou County, CA offensive! If you have just a couple minutes send the County Commission an email (see post above) and let them know there are a lot of people watching them. The emails need to be sent before the next board meeting which is Tuesday, 13 Nov.


- Kevin

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Wow. Kevin, what an issue.


We would all do well to keep our eyes on this one and as a group we should think carefully about our role.


This is an area that strikes at not only our hobby, but also our civil liberties, quality of life and the environmental integrity of those rivers.


I don't know the actual players involved in this, but if they fall true to stereotype, they'll be some real...characters.


Passions run high out west over water issues. Law suits are the more pedestrian part of that dynamic. There could well

be guns involved before it's all over...oh...and by the way, if you dare to stand up and say that the public should have

access to rivers you'll get called a commie pinko bastard before the process is all over too.


Things aren't nearly as bad in Illinois, but we have tenuous water access rights too. This may be an area where we want to

get involved.

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Wow. Kevin, what an issue.




Things aren't nearly as bad in Illinois, but we have tenuous water access rights too. This may be an area where we want to

get involved.




I agree and have done what I can at this time - sent an email to the board. I am simply following the lead of the guys in Siskiyou county which want to keep this at a public/political level at this time. So, I think the best thing we can do is flood the board with emails expressing our concern. I do know that TU and the Orvis Conservation folks have become involved. I think other organizations as well, but I do feel strongly that we should show our support for the fight to stop or reasonably amend this Natural Resource Plan and send an email.


It would be great if the folks on this forum could do the same. If the ISA board would like to express their concern as an organization, that would be even better. Finally, if the national level of The Smallmouth Alliance also wanted to show their support, that would probably be the best we could do.


Thanks for your comments!


- Kevin

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I wanted to thank those of you who sent email to the Siskiyou County, CA Board of Supervisors regarding their Natural Resources Plan. Evidently we and others impressed on the BOS that they are not living in a vacuum. Their actions are visible to the world. For now, there will be no vote on the Natural Resources Plan and the language regarding the navigability of rivers has been deleted. More information can be found:


Trout Underground


- Kevin

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