Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Sheriffs discuss challenges they believe rural communities face

About 700 people attended a meeting at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds on Saturday sponsored by the activism group Defend Rural America, founded by Idaho native Kirk MacKenzie. The meeting consisted of a film, a fundraising auction and discussions with a panel of eight sheriffs from Northern California and Southern Oregon. After the film and the auction, the panel of sheriffs, including Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey and a property rights attorney, took the stage to address their concerns about the challenges they believe rural communities are facing. Lopey began the panel discussion by presenting his views about Klamath dam removal, what he sees as federal government incursion into state and county jurisdictions, and the current state of rural America. Lopey told the audience that many sheriffs in Northern California and Southern Oregon are becoming increasingly concerned about government taking power out of the hands of citizens and making poor land use decisions that have the potential to destroy the “rural way of life.” “These are constitutional issues,” Lopey told the crowd. “We are here because sheriffs are sworn to uphold the United States constitution. We are broke, so why are these people doing stupid stuff to make us poorer?” Lopey asked, referring to concerns about the costs associated with Klamath dam removal, and higher taxes and power rates that may come along with the process. Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson told the audience that “there is an assault on our communities. The government is denying us of our resources that make us self-sustaining. We have allowed this to happen to our country, but our founding fathers gave us the tools to fix it. We can take back our country county by county.” Nearly every sheriff mentioned concerns about decommissioning of roads in publicly owned forests and the lack of government coordination with local officials during the process. Trinity County Sheriff Bruce Haney said roads in national forests are essential for search and rescue missions in remote areas. Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood said, “Events like this are something that hasn’t happened before. There is an awakening of a giant here.”...more

Links to videos of all the presenters, including attorney Karen Budd Fallen, are available here

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