By Jeff McCaddon – November 23, 2021
I have lived in Crescent City, County of Del Norte for over 30 years. During those years, the Smith River National Recreation Area has joined other existing State and Federal Parks, Wildlife Refuges and Wilderness areas to dominate a vast majority of our County. At present, we have no say about these public lands because the narrative is dominated by big cities of the Coast to our South. Culturally, we have nothing at all in common with these big city people. We are rural and poor, many of us growing our own food to supplement our scant paychecks. Unlike our affluent big city neighbors to the South, we must make-do with what we have instead of buying things new.
The impoverished citizens of Del Norte have much more in common with our neighboring Counties to the East who likewise have been ignored and exploited by rich Southern Coastal Counties. The Rich Southern Coastal resident view our County as a cheap vacation place for recreation, and could care less for the indigenous people. We live here, and must find ways to survive. Local industry and agriculture have been destroyed by big government interference, as has local mom & pop small business during the Pandemic quarantines. Two tribes have found a way to capitalize on the vacationers through their Casinos who held an entertainment monopoly. Large corporate franchises like Walmart, and the Fast Food chains also dip into the tourism money, but that money finds its way to corporate headquarters far away. Local hotels and motels are patronized, but are heavily taxed by local government, and unfortunately those funds find their way into the hands of political cronies. The average Joe and Jane of Del Norte County see no benefit from tourism.
This is a hard and rustic land, vulnerable to harsh winters and natural disasters. I have seen times when ALL THREE major roads leading in and out of Del Norte were closed by landslides. The mail came to us via the Coast Guard, and emergency provisions arriving at the airport. I worked at our local Harbor when it was destroyed by Tsunami. I have seen local floods inundate the farms and ranches of Smith River like an inland sea. All of those were happening well before all the ballyhoo of “Climate Change.”
I hope that we are able to join with the seven Counties to our East, (Humboldt, Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehma and Trinity) and subsequently free ourselves of the oppression of our rich Southern neighbors, who haven’t the empathy, patience, not the inclination to consider our unique needs. For now, we are simply a resource to be exploited for the gain of the wealthy.