Siskiyou County

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Election Road Trip: Voters in the ‘Real’ Northern California

By Lisa Morehouse

Doug Jenner is a 4th generation alfalfa farmer and cattle rancher in Siskiyou County's Scott Valley. His biggest political concern is increased land and water regulation. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Doug Jenner is a fourth generation alfalfa farmer and cattle rancher in Siskiyou County’s Scott Valley. His biggest political concern is increased land and water regulation. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Up in Siskiyou County on the Oregon border, people say that anyone who calls San Francisco “Northern California” has it all wrong. This is the real Northern California. It’s a sprawling county which is home to the Klamath and McCloud rivers, and the majestic Mt Shasta, but it has barely 45,000 residents. So, here, the answer to the question “What’s government for?” all comes back to people’s relationships with the land.

There’s a phrase some people use to describe what used to dominate Siskiyou County’s economy: red meat and board feet. The first stands for cattle ranching, the second for the timber industry. There are only two lumber mills left in Siskiyou County, but in the north there are still plenty of cattle, tended by people like fourth generation rancher Doug Jenner. His biggest political concern is regulation. As government agencies like Fish and Game seek to protect species like the Coho salmon, Jenner says ranchers and alfalfa farmers who depend on irrigation face more regulations around water and land. Continue reading