Writer: Makenna Marks
SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. – A board member of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association has filed a lawsuit against the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. The lawsuit claims the secretary is illegally using taxpayer money to fund the historic dam removal project.
“The secretary of natural resources has authority over the implementation of anything that affects wild and scenic rivers. He’s also… in charge of the bond money,” said Anthony Intiso, who filed the lawsuit.
Intiso is personally suing Wade Crowfoot, the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. Intiso says his primary concern with the removal project is how it’s being funded by the state of California. His lawsuit cites California’s Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, claiming the project funding is illegal expenditure of tax money.
“People in the state government decided they wanted to fund the removal of these four green energy hydroelectric facilities with money from the bond act,” he said. “If you look at the bond act it says nothing about removing facilities, it’s all about supposedly improving.”
NewsWatch 12 reached out to the California Natural Resources Agency regarding the lawsuit but the agency says it does not comment on ongoing litigation.
While the Siskiyou County Water Users Association is against the removal of the dams, its president says the main priority should be improving the quality of the river.
“We represent a very large group of people and we’ve been fighting this issue of removing the dams because we don’t believe it’s going to resolve the real issue that’s being raised, which is the production of fish,” said Richard Marshall, president of Siskiyou County Water Users Association.
Marshall says more focus needs to be put on improving the salmon habitat, rather than on the dams.
“I think the middle ground here for everybody is instead of concentrating on the dams, to concentrate on improving the breeding areas for the salmon all the way from the ocean to the dams,” Marshall said. “This is where the cold water tributaries come in that the fish lay their eggs in. I don’t think that’s really been explored.”
Moving forward, Intiso will be asking the judge to define the terms of the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act and decide whether or not money can be used to fund the dam removal project.
“We’re going to ask the court to define or approve the definition of the language in the bond act and see if the judge agrees with us,” Intiso said. “That’s the whole thing.”