Archived, Featured Voices, Siskiyou

Open Letter:  Drought Emergency Declaration still in place for Siskiyou County

Written By,  Jess Harris 
Siskiyou County Resident 

 Governor Gavin Newsom and Staff: 

Siskiyou County has experienced a remarkable year for precipitation. Combined with generous rainfall in the previous year, our water content has significantly improved from the years of drought. Only a portion of the county is deemed abnormally dry by the United States Drought Monitor. Continuing this emergency declaration unnecessarily harms Siskiyou County residents and its economic status. The emergency declaration must be lifted immediately. Any delay in doing so is negligent, at best. At a time when the State of California faces an extreme budget deficit, it is highly irresponsible to continue to harm the farms, ranches, and residents that contribute to the state’s funding. Further prolonging the declaration can only serve as evidence of your office’s control through false emergency orders. 

Farms and ranches provide a crucial role in habitat and animal welfare for many of our native animal species. California Fish and Wildlife is currently expressing concern for the populations of the Western Pond Turtle and the Yellow-Legged Frog. Farm and ranch ditches, stock water ponds, and flooded fields provide ideal habitats for these species. Reducing water allocation to farms and ranches puts native species at risk. The state should prioritize recharge efforts in the winter, allowing excess flow to be directed to ditches, stock water ponds, and fields. The state should also encourage and expedite the construction of ponds to hold water for species reliant on this habitat. Any excess water that exceeds the flows needed in the river to support aquatic species and migration, and is sent to the ocean, is wasteful. All excess water should be utilized, stored, and used to benefit each basin and its ecosystems. In the interest of healthy basins and ecosystems, the state should add “recharge” to its list of beneficial uses of water. The fact that it is not already considered a beneficial use, especially when the State Water Board is focusing on groundwater, is highly disappointing. 

Constituents of the State of California already have a dim view of the Governor’s Office and the state agencies designed to serve them. Continuing an emergency order that is clearly unnecessary only amplifies this view. I encourage you to promptly lift the emergency order for Siskiyou County. 

 Jess Harris
Siskiyou County Resident 

CC: NOAA Fisheries, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, CA State Water
Resources Control Board, 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *