Fascinating account of how new environmental regulations and restoration projects are emptying the northern California countryside, Rural rebellion brewing:
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.
This account reminds me of Victor Davis Hanson’s narrative of rural areas of central California, first world cities surrounded by economically devasted countryside.
It’s a reverse of what happened when the communists took over Southeast Asia, and the cities were depopulated as a political strategy. Here, the political strategy is to depopulate the countryside, and drive everyone into politically correct cities.