In, where else, California. But not all of California is Kalifornia, it turns out.
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.
These rural folks, living in the shadow of the majestic Mount Shasta, believe that they are being driven away so that their communities can essentially go back to the wild, to conform to a modern environmentalist ethos that puts wildlands above humanity. As the locals told it during the Defend Rural America conference Oct. 22 at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds, environmental officials are treading on their liberties, traipsing unannounced on their properties, confronting ranchers with guns drawn to enforce arcane regulatory rules and destroying their livelihoods in the process.
Well, of course they are. It’s what they do, after all. Read it all, though, for some encouraging signs of life among the liberty-loving in Northern Cali, including this:
Sheriff Dean Wilson of Del Norte County said he was “ignorant and naïve about the terrible condition our state was in.” He came to believe that people were being assaulted by their own government. “I spent a good part of my life enforcing the penal code but not understanding my oath.” Wilson and other sheriffs said it is their role to defend the liberties of the people against any encroachments – even if those encroachments come from other branches of government.
Like I said, read it all. It is, as the author says, refreshing.