Board of Supervisors drops objection to Nature Conservancy’s water use
Posted Nov. 14, 2013 @ 12:00 pm
The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw its protests regarding eight petitions filed by The Nature Conservancy to dedicate its water rights to in-stream flow. Streams affected include Little Springs Creek, Big Springs Creek and the Shasta River.
Acting as the Siskiyou County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, the board’s withdrawal came with the condition that the draft water rights order and compliance plan remain in its current form.
The board voted four to one in approval. Supervisor Ed Valenzuela, District 2, provided the only no vote. He said his vote was not in opposition of TNC’s plans, saying the board’s added stipulation wasn’t necessary.
“TNC is doing a positive thing,” Valenzuela said. “I’m comfortable with allowing this to move forward. I still think the positives are a benefit for everyone concerned.”
The adjudicated water rights for Shasta Big Spring Ranch are historically used for agriculture; however, a 1707 permit would allow TNC to leave the water in streams to benefit habitat, fish and wildlife.
“We are trying to be granted the right to use that portion of irrigation water for the fish,” Amy Hoss, TNC’s Shasta River Project manager, told the supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting.
The supervisors expressed some concerns over the reallocation – chief among them an easement purchased by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that grants it the ability to determine whether the ranch’s water rights would be used for fish or agriculture as of Sept. 15, 2015.
“We are working closely with (DFW) to talk about the shared usages of ranching and salmon restoration and demonstrating that we can do both there,” Hoss said. “I would hesitate to say we would be all right with that not being a ranch anymore.”
Tim Beck, Lower Shasta and Little Shasta watermaster, clarified that the water rights in question only run through the summer.
“I wish they would have trusted (TNC) with the water rights,” Supervisor Brandon Criss, District 1, said.
“The controversial part of this is the DFW having control of the water, and we know they don’t pay their property taxes if they took this property in the future,” Supervisor Michael Kobseff, District 3, said. “I don’t know what harm may come to water users if (DFW) had full control.”
During public comment, John Menke of Quartz Valley called TNC a broker for other agencies to buy land. While he did applaud TNC for its motives, he added, “You can’t trust this Fish and Wildlife. They have none of our interests at heart.”
Richard Marshall, president of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association, requested the supervisors let the matter go to superior court to determine the beneficial use.
After the meeting, Hoss told the Daily News, “I’m really encouraged by the process. I feel it’s been a useful exercise to hear everyone’s concerns.
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