Wednesday August 31, 2022

Lake County Record-Bee

The land that Jim Scala and his family have been ranching for three generations is parched and brown as far as he can see. The pond where his cattle used to drink is now a puddle, ringed with cracked mud.

In other years, water pumped from the Shasta River would have periodically flooded this land, keeping his pasture alive and pond full. But the state had ordered Scala and other ranchers and farmers in rural Siskiyou County to stop irrigating when the drought-plagued river dipped below a certain level.

With bills mounting from trucking in water and buying hay to replace dead pasture, and facing the prospect of selling half his herd, Scala and others made a decision to defy the state’s order.

“We said, ‘To hell with it,’” Scala said. “We’re starting the pumps.”

In a single day in mid-August, the Shasta River’s flows dropped by more than half and stayed there for a week, which could jeopardize the salmon and other fish that spawn there.

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