By: Kathy Lehman

October 23, 2011


Over 1,000 people attended, including a group of 150 from the San Francisco bay area.


Kirk MacKenzie, Founder of Defend Rural America (, filmed the “Summit on the Scott River” conducted by Scott Valley Protect Our Water ( on August 23. Scott Valley POW is a group that “shares information regarding government issues that are affecting the agricultural land, irrigation water use and, ultimately, private property rights in Scott Valley.” The Summit shared facts, history and science on the Klamath River and Scott Valley. The Siskiyou Water Users Association then gave MacKenzie a three-day tour of Iron Gate and Copco dams.


After interviewing local ranchers, scientists, foresters, landowners, local business leaders, and the Shasta Tribe Historian, MacKenzie realized that the destruction coming to Siskiyou County will be far more significant than just destruction of the four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Fish and wildlife will be destroyed, as will be the economy, livelihoods and culture of Siskiyou county residents.


MacKenzie started producing a documentary from his film clips, which he shared with friends in San Francisco and various tea parties. This lead to a bus tour to Siskiyou County organized to see the situation first-hand, and that grew to the launching of Defend Rural America’s first event.


The premiere of MacKenzie’s film (available through DRA) ran about an hour. It investigates many of the issues surrounding the proposed removal of the Klamath dams. The Klamath River Basin encompasses nine counties – five in California and four in Oregon. This issue directly impacts an area the size of Maryland. Space does not permit detailing the information in the film, is selling film DVDs, and offers free downloads and audio files of much of the background information used in producing the film.


Following the film, an address was read from Fred Kelly Grant, Counsel and Lead Negotiator for Trademark America ( Grant is well known to Siskiyou county residents, but was unable to attend Saturday’s event. Grant has been mentoring and assisting local governments, including many local entities, to understand and utilize their coordinative authority with federal and state agencies for over twenty years.


Constitutional Sheriffs are frustrated with the problems facing their rural citizens, no more so than within the state of Jefferson. Sheriff Lopey is a leader among rural sheriffs, many of whom have taken workshops from Grant on coordination. Lopey is now leading coordination meetings, so he decided to hold a Panel of Sheriffs during the DRA event.


Those attending were Grant County Sheriff Glenn E. Palmer, Trinity County Sheriff Bruce Haney, Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson, Tehama County Sheriff Dave Hencratt, Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growden, Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood, and Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko. Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson sent his regrets from Hawaii.


Each of these seven lawmen spoke of their frustrations dealing with the overreach of the federal government. Mostly they spoke of problems with the U.S. Forest Service and its Travel Management Plans. After each man spoke their huge audience thanked them with a loud and standing ovation.


Wyoming Attorney Karen Budd-Falen sat with the Sheriff Panel. Budd-Falen told the audience that the U.S. Constitution does not give them rights; their rights come from God. The Constitution protects them from their government.


I’ve listed some of the sheriffs’ more poignant messages below.


Sheriff Hencratt (Tehama): “I’ve experienced battles with the Forest Service…I’ve experienced those personally.”

Sheriff Growden (Lassen): “All the small towns are dying. We use to have two timber mills and a large gold mine. They’re all gone now, and it’s sickening.”

Sheriff Palmer (Grant): “Our schools are down about 50% in enrollment. We are one of the richest timber counties. How asinine and uncalled for is this?”

Sheriff Haney (Trinity): “In the last four weeks we’ve had four major search and rescues. Without these roads we cannot reach people.”

Sheriff Hagwood (Plumas): “The Plumas School District used to be one of the wealthiest…because of the timber. But it’s gone.” Sheriff Hagwood also was quoted a number of months ago by stating, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to enforce the Travel Management Plan. I will not criminalize citizens for just accessing public lands.”

Sheriff Lopey (Siskiyou): “We have a 26% unemployment rate. What the agencies are doing is not constitutional and it’s not lawful. We’re broke. Why won’t they let people work?”

Sheriff Wilson (Del Norte): “The Travel Management Plan was implemented without the knowledge of the Sheriff or the County Board of Supervisors. It has a direct impact on public safety. We have an assault on our community. Self-sustainability is being denied us and is crippling our community.”

These sheriffs support each other, and they support their communities. They called for citizens everywhere to support their constitutional sheriffs as well. The sheriffs’ overriding message to attendees was probably best summed up by the following:

Sheriff Wilson said, “The shame is our own. We have allowed this to happen to our country. Our Founding Fathers foresaw this and gave us the tools to fix our country.”

Sheriff Haney stated, “We are more than county sheriffs. We are a united group.”

Sheriff Hagwood stated, “As bleak as things are, as challenging as they are, this hasn’t happened before. We are SO united in addressing these issues.”

Sheriff Bosenko stated, “This is where it starts. This is where we fight. The government’s first responsibility is to protect its citizens.”

Among the many organizations represented with booths were Liberators 11, the Jefferson Mining District, the Siskiyou Tea Party Patriots, the Constitution Party of California, Brandon Criss for Siskiyou County Supervisor, the Libertarian Party of California, Wake Up America (Southern Oregon), My Outdoor Buddy, Scott Valley POW, Siskiyou County Water Users Association, Operation Green Out!, Freedom Jewelry, Etc., State of Jefferson, and the Klamath Bucket Brigade


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