Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Rural Rebellion Brewing
Sacramento is Government Central, a land of overly pensioned bureaucrats and restaurant discounts for state workers. But way up in the North State, one finds a small but hard-edged rural populace that views state and federal officials as the main obstacles to their quality of life. Their latest battle is to stop destruction of four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River – an action driven by environmentalists and the Obama administration. Most locals say the dam-busting will undermine their property rights and ruin the local farming and ranch economy, which is all that's left since environmental regulators destroyed the logging and mining industries. These used to be wealthy resource-based economies, but now many of the towns are drying up, with revenue to local governments evaporating. Unemployment rates are in the 20-percent-and-higher range. Nearly 79 percent of the county's voters in a recent advisory initiative opposed the dam removal, but that isn't stopping the authorities from blasting the dams anyway. The evening's main event: a panel featuring eight county sheriffs (seven from California, one from Oregon) who billed themselves as "Constitution sheriffs." They vowed to stand up for the residents of their communities against what they say is an unconstitutional onslaught from regulators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. In particular, they took issue with the federal government's misnamed Travel Management Plan, which actually is designed to shut down public travel in the forests. The people in Siskiyou were echoing points I've heard throughout rural California. As they see it, government regulators are pursuing controversial policies – i.e., diverting water from farms to save a bait fish, the Delta smelt, clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions to address global warming even if it means driving food processors out of the Central Valley, demolishing dams to increase a population of fish that isn't endangered – without caring about the costs to rural residents. We've got a real sagebrush rebellion brewing in rural California. Urban legislators can ignore it at their own peril. ..more