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Unhappy Camp

Reliving the bad old ’80s way up in there the hills

North Coast Journal 10/14/10

(They think a sign saying ‘no (Siskiyou) monument’ is angry? by Judy Bushy, Siskiyou Daily 10/26/10)

KBC NOTE: Important to read the comments following the article!

(Oct. 14, 2010)  It might be time — way past time — for a sad little renaming ceremony for our cousin town deep in the hills. Things haven’t, in truth, been all that happy for a lot of people in Happy Camp ever since the spotted owl and the timber industry collided and collapsed in a heap of splinters, feathers and rancor. This was back in 1990, following several years of fighting, when the owl was listed under the Endangered Species Act. Timber companies had to quit cutting the big trees, the mill closed and the exodus of families to better jobs left those who remained behind to rattle around in the empty spaces.

And there they’ve simmered, all these years. Recently, that old rancor has returned to a full boil — reminiscent of the spotted owl days, say some residents. Several resource-related battles have cropped up like pretty poison Amanitas in the forest duff: Gold dredge miners have been banned from their mining activities in the Klamath River in order to protect fisheries, putting a dent in tourism-dependent businesses’ incomes. Four Klamath dams are being studied by the feds for removal to protect fish and the fisheries of local tribes (though not all tribes are in accord with the multi-party dam removal agreement). And the environmental group K-S Wild (Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center) is proposing creation of the Siskiyou Crest National Monument, which would add five large federal roadless areas in Oregon and California to an existing monument — which would mean serious curbs on public land grazing, logging, access to private inholdings, road-building and off-highway vehicles, in exchange for protecting what the proponents classify as a significant land bridge between diverse habitats.


Battle lines have been drawn, and political speeches are infecting daily life. Why, during Bigfoot Days, over Labor Day weekend, the opening act before the dog show was an anti-monument speech. After the show the person handing out awards wore a Bigfoot costume and a T-shirt that said “KS My Ass.”

“It’s getting to be too much,” said Rachel Lent, of Happy Camp, by phone recently. The 48-year-old silviculturist has lived 30 years in the Siskiyou region and currently works part-time for the Karuk Tribe’s community development department. “I mean, everywhere you go there’s ‘No monument’ signs. Everybody is mad because dredging’s been shut down, and everywhere I turn it’s ‘those damn environmentalists.’ I feel like they think they’re speaking for me, and they’re not. And if you do say anything, you can be ostracized, you can be threatened physically.”

“You know, it’s politically pretty dangerous to be too vocal in these former logging towns,” added her husband, Chuck, 57, on speaker phone. Chuck, a therapist employed by the Karuk Tribe, has lived in Siskiyou County since 1992, mostly in Happy Camp. “For the most part, people just keep their mouths shut. A friend of

ours got you-know-what beat out of him out in Scott Valley for his political views. He was surrounded by a bunch of redneck ranchers and beat up. He was a member of the Klamath Forest Alliance at the time.”

Actually, though, the Lents have managed to make nice with everyone in town, even though they think that the angrier among the jilted timber families are silly to resent and reject this new era, in which the Forest Service and the Karuk Tribe are the major employers and there’s money to be made in grant-seeking for environmental projects. They’re not hard-line on the issues, though — some timber sales might be OK, said Rachel, as a for instance, and some might not be.

But then, one day last month, they arrived at the lone grocery store in town, Parry’s Market, to do their weekly shopping and saw a big new sign in the window: “Attention: If you are involved in the protesting of the timber sale up Elk Creek you can take your business elsewhere. Parry’s Market Management.”

“I didn’t even know that there was a protest going on,” Chuck said. “But I took exception to the only grocer in town putting his politics out there and saying ‘Stop, don’t come in my store.’”

“It puts us in a difficult position,” said Rachel, “when, you know, we want to support local businesses. But how can we do it if they are kind of violating our civil rights, and my personal values? I think people have a right to speak. What, now we show our voter registration card at the register along with our debit card?”

They noticed another sign telling K-S Wild people specifically to keep out. The Lents sat there, pondering, and decided it wasn’t about the “right to refuse service” so much as plain old discrimination. So they fired up their car and drove away.

“We’ve never been back,” said Chuck.

Instead, they’ve been driving three hours to the coast to shop at the co-ops in Eureka and Arcata, or two hours to shop in Ashland. Chucks says it’s simply a free speech issue.

“I should be able to believe and do whatever I feel is right, whether he agrees with it or not,” said Chuck. “He should sell groceries, period. And if he’s really hurting financially, why shoot himself in the foot? We were spending $800 a month at Parry’s for a family of four plus dogs, cats and goats.”

The Lents aren’t the only ones concerned about the signs at Parry’s. Trista Parry, who owns the market with her husband, Bob, recently e-mailed the Journal a written statement about their signage, along with a copy of a letter they’d written to the Crocketts, a Happy Camp family who had written to the Parrys to inquire about the signs. Trista wrote that the signs are similar to ones other residents and businesses have posted throughout town and the surrounding area, including in Yreka. She noted that the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors and the Karuk Tribe are opposed to the monument. And she said the signs were not aimed at local residents.

“[P]rotestors have passed through our area for 20 years now, protesting our way of life with devastating effects,” wrote Trista. “So our response was to let the protesters passing through know that they are not welcome in our town.”

She added that she and her husband didn’t consider the financial impacts to banning certain customers from their store, which they’ve operated since November 2002. “Our store is doing well. We work hard to continuously improve our store and offer new products and services to our customers.”

She told the Crocketts that she and her husband grew up in Happy Camp — her family’s been there for seven generations — and they remember a time when 80 percent of the residents worked in the timber industry or its supportive services. She described the timber wars, saying they weren’t really about declining owl populations but about environmental extremists wanting to stop all logging on federal land.

“In the end, I think our community members kind of scratched their heads and wondered what happened as they loaded up their families and headed out of town looking for work,” wrote Trista. “Since that time we have watched our communities turn to high levels of poverty and unemployment with unprecedented incidents of domestic violence, child abuse, and drug abuse. We now have an economic base of 80 percent government dependency. Our schools have lost so much funding from ADA and timber revenue that we have no music, band or art programs, our high school has lost many of its electives and has to fight with the district to maintain its sports program.”

School enrollments have dropped to less than half of what they once were. Numerous shops have closed and now the only gas station in town is a card-lock one. Her own brother, a logger, had to move his family to Idaho to find work. The monument, meanwhile, would curb many of the locals’ remaining recreational and commercial activities, she said. And that timber sale?

“The timber sale up Elk Creek is a burn area,” Trista wrote. “Why should the dead timber be left to rot? It would not only be a huge waste of resources but it would also encourage the infestation of bugs that not only eat the rotting wood but once present move into our healthy forests as well.”

To the Lents’ claim that the Parrys’ are infringing upon people’s free-speech rights by posting political edicts in their market’s window, Trista countered that protesters wanted to place her “community behind glass walls to be admired by the city people as they pass through.

“We don’t think the protester’s political views should be allowed to impact the way thousands of people make a living and support their families,” she said.



Comment / By laying low / Oct. 14, 8:40 p.m.

All too true - not unlike Humboldt County in the 70s except that Happy Camp is more isolated and rural. Those of us with a different way of seeing things or a mind of our own tend to keep our heads down and our mouths shut. I had a similar reaction to the sign at Parry’s and now do most of my shopping on the coast. The frenzy about the Monument has derailed any opportunity for civil discussion and has fueled paranoia and hatred of all “outsiders.” I often hear of the nefarious agendas of “those who have been trying to get rid of us for years.” Sadly, the very real issues of drug abuse, violence, and poverty are not resolved by a political climate that keeps us from talking and working together. I hope this article can serve as a wake up call so the community can move on. Thank you Rachel and Chuck!

Comment / By Standing up / Oct. 14, 9:42 p.m.

We are where we are because we HAVE kept quite while our laws have been made by a few rather than the majority.

The forests were designed for multiple use and not preserved for hands off agriculture. We have National Parks for that. We now have folks who live in their wooden homes and stop every timber sale that comes across the newspaper. This is while they harvest (with no rules) in in third world countries. Yes, it’s the not in my back yard concept. Anyone with a 42 cent stamp can stall a timber sale in a wildfire area just to make the wood useless for harvest. Wow, what a triumph! You just used your right to take away the rights of so many other people who do not have the same value as you do.

You say that no one listens to your values, but I’m sorry to say that the ninth district court in Berkley only listens to you and your wishes. Most transplants come from the city where they are not educated about land USE, and have been ingrained that all harvest is bad.

I hope that someday you will be open minded to see the US Forest Service as under the Dept. of Agriculture and not under the Dept of preservation as you seem to think it should be.

Comment / By scott greacen / Oct. 15, 10:19 p.m.

Timber companies had to stop cutting the big trees Heidi, you know that sentence is completely wrong. Don’t you?

For the record: there has been no protest at the Panther post-fire “salvage” timber sale up Elk Creek.

Thanks to the the Forest Service’s use of a completely bogus “Emergency Situation Determination” - which means there’s no stay on the logging pending appeal - and the Bush Administration’s Healthy Forest Restoration Act - which makes it incredibly difficult to get an injunction against any project the USFS decides qualifies - the burned forest above Elk Creek, near the Norcross Campground and the trailhead to Bear Lake, is being logged without delay.

The logging will inevitably degrade water quality and fish habitat in Elk Creek, set back natural succession, and create another fire-trap tree plantation that the USFS will never get around to thinning.

So “Standing up” should stick to making things up.

It’s important to reflect on these tensions and how they affect people. But it’s also important to identify the key actors and reflect on their rhetoric, which goes far beyond putting a nasty sign in the window of the local market. This story suggests the dynamic is enviros pushing and put-upon local people reacting. I think that’s a narrative that Danielle Linders and KARE, for example, are more than happy with.

But when Ron Smith says “If you don’t get up and fight KS Wild right now your children will become slaves or they will be dead!” as he did the night of Thursday, October 7 at the Applegate School, it’s not hard to predict there will be consequences. I think the NC Journal has a responsibility to spotlight efforts to incite violent reaction, and not just the reactions.

Comment / By Lodgepole / Oct. 16, 3:17 p.m.

“…it’s also important to identify the key actors and reflect upon their rhetoric…” Ha! As though it’s someone else and not you.

Comment / By Born in Happy Camp / Oct. 16, 5:44 p.m.

As somebody literally born and raised in Happy Camp, it pains me to watch this. People with such a narrow minded view on land management, speaking in such absolutes. For decades now, people have been pushing their ideals, theories, and lame ass studies about our way of life. Most of you come from cities where you flattened, paved, and raped the land of every living thing in sight. Lived in houses made of wood, were educated on books made of paper, and wiped your asses with toilet paper. Then you come out here, where the land was actually managed and people coexist with nature. We have dealt with everybody else with an opinion on how our town should be, now when local people, that have lived here for 7 generations, decide to speak out… You criticize them? They have every right to refuse service and take a stance. If you don’t like it, do like the sign says and shop elsewhere.

Comment / By Plain Jane / Oct. 18, 12:10 p.m.

The Lent’s are courageous for speaking out like this. Let’s hope it wasn’t foolish.

Comment / By Just another local / Yesterday, 9:14 a.m.

I would reallly like for Bob and Trista to put a sign up in their store window that says….”If you sell drugs to kids…you can take your business elsewhere!” That relly would be more of a sign of the times.

Comment / By Joyous in Happy Camp / Yesterday, 9:27 a.m.

There is nothing more to say, that others haven’t spoken quite well too. And Parry’s isn’t the only store in town! These people apparently don’t know Happy Camp as well as they say they do! What part of freedom do some not understand? Free to live in harmony with our environment, hunt and fish and yes even dredge and cut firewood is why many people choose to live here. Because we are small and isolated doesn’t mean the pencil pushers can run roughshod over our local rights to live as we choose.
I echo this thought, if you don’t like our lifestyle, go back to where you came from. I am sick of the divisive tactics pushed on us from outsiders, and I am bored with the constant pressure to take a stand. Live and Let Live - stop trying to make us conform to rules designed in offices based on “bad science”. What part of Public Land are you unclear on? I am the Public and I don’t need another layer of idiots between me and the forest I live in.

Comment / By Crystal Clear / Yesterday, 10:02 a.m.

Open Letter from KS WIld

So why do some people want a National Monument?


Have you noticed that the Siskiyou Crest is managed by three different National Forests with no unified plan for fire management? Often the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. During the Siskiyou/Blue Complex fire in 2008 more forest was lost to Forest Service burnouts and backburns than were lost to the lightning caused wildfire. Management was a mess. Local concerns were steamrolled by out-of-state incident teams. A Monument could provide funding for unified fire planning, fuels reduction, and response.


Have you tried to drive to the trailheads at Thompson Creek or Bear Peak? Have you tried to hike overgrown trails like the route from Kelly Lake to Poker Flat? The Crest is an awesome place, but getting to the good spots gets harder every year. The Forest Service just doesn’t have the budge to maintain roads and trails. That’s a fact.

Karuk Management Authority

Much of the southern side of the Siskiyou Crest lies in the territory of the Karuk Tribe. They have had thousands of years to develop a relationship and an understanding of this landscape in a way that no one else can claim. Their Department of Natural Resources has a smart and forward-thinking vision for managing and restoring this land, and yet the Forest Service largely ignores their responsibility to involve the Karuk in land use decisions. We want to see that relationship change. We believe their restoration vision should be the law of the land, and a monument designation could accomplish this.


We won’t sugarcoat it. Irresponsible grazing on the Crest is a big problem for a lot of people. Many of the high elevation meadows, creeks and springs are trashed. Cows from the Rogue-Siskiyou trespass on allotments in the Klamath, cows from the Klamath trespass onto allotments on the Rogue-Siskiyou. A lot of Crest visitors don’t like it when every meadow is trampled and every creek is full of cow crap.

Don’t Believe the Hype.

Environmentalists aren’t going to win any popularity contests in Siskiyou County. We’re fine with that. But we’d like to work with people to figure out ways to make things better for the people and animals that rely on the Siskiyou Crest.

A Monument won’t take anyone’s private property. A Monument won’t impact hunting, fishing, or firewood. A Monument won’t shut down any main roads or stop all timber sales.

We don’t think that the Forest Service or the Siskiyou County Commissioners have a plan to deal with fire, recreation, or grazing issues on the Crest. We do have a plan. It’s a work in progress and we’re open to ideas on how to make our Forests work for everyone.


KS Wild and friends.

Comment / By Erik Wheaton / Yesterday, 11:34 a.m.

This is a difficult issue for all concerned. I live in Happy Camp and have spoken with many of the people whose land will be affected if the Siskiyou Crest Monument is signed by the President.

This is not a black or white issue, many landowners agree with the preservation of the Siskiyou Crest, yet oppose the monument as their grazing and or water rights will be in jeopardy.

Some of the landowner’s families have been here for over 150 years. For all that time they have cared for the land. Yet in one sweeping move from the entire north bank of the middle Klamath all the way to Oregon will be changed in ways that will harm the very people who have lived here the longest and cared for their land for generations.

For the people at KS Wild to presume it is simply “anti environmentalism” is as incorrect as my own suspicions of them as the middle class elite practicing class warfare. Would not some dialog have helped? Could the lives of families who have lived here for generations have been considered? Yes to all of the above; yet KS Wild remains aloof.

We are here year round. The land is under our fingernails, in our skin and for some in their very genes! We will fight KS Wild and anyone who comes from without and tries to change things.

Accommodations should be made which would preserve family and other lands right to access water and grazing. It would have little or no effect on the preservation of the Siskiyou Crest.

Comment / By Woodsy The Owl / Yesterday, 11:55 a.m.

The particular Us versus Them theme of this article has missed a huge number of real-life issues making Happy Camp unhappy.

First and foremost would be the corrosive town gossip, followed by a crystal meth epidemic, marijuana growers on welfare making tens of thousands of dollars each year, local thieves too lazy to grow their own ripping off marijuana growers every year, corrupt country officials, child and spousal abuse, to name a few. And if You ask people who have lived here all their lives, all these community problems were here long before the logging industry pulled out.

It is a convenient scapegoat to bash KS Wild for Happy Camp’s ills, complacency keeping some locals here from moving forward and refusing to make the best of change. There is a major arrogance among some townsfolk who harbor an attitude that the national forests here are simply their own private property, rather than admit they belong equally to every U.S. citizen. When Joe and Jane sixpack who live in the city head off to enjoy the mountains for a week of camping and recreation, many are shocked to see their national forests have become a mere tree farm for a few wealthy timber companies. The Siskiyou Crest Monument is a wonderful effort to reverse decades long exploitation of public lands.

Yet Happy Camp old timers continue to do what they do best: whine about it.

Comment / By Double D / Yesterday, 3:36 p.m.

It is a sad state of affairs when a small community is being dictated to by a few so called do gooders who have the grand idea of how we, whome have lived here for generations, should live our lives. The big mistake this community made started back in the sixties and seventies when we turned a blind eye to the influx of the so called peace/love drug sub culture generation (hippies) and allowed them to get a foothold on the Klamath, Scott and Trinity Rivers just to name a few. Like all the liberals they are more than welling and able to voice their opinions loud and clear but God help the rest of us if we try to voice ours. All you have to do is watch the news or read a news paper. The liberals get all the press, never the moderates or conservatives. These radical liberals have turned this once thriving town into a welfare community, families who have lived here for generations have to relocate to fing jobs. there use to be several lumber mills operating in Happy Camp forty years ago, now there are none. There is no longer job opportunities for our youth when they graduate from high school. No one loves this community more than the hard working local folks who have lived her all or most of their lives. Our forest’s are a renewable resource and need to be harvested and the under gorwth cleared to prevent the devastating wild forest fires we have wittnessed since the environmentalis shut down logging over thirty years ago. I understand the Crockett’s recently built a new home up Elk Creek, is it made of straw & mud or bricks? HMMMM! What’s yours made of Chuck and Rachel? I know for a fact it’s wood. HYPOCRITES!!!!!!!! KS Wild is another issue on the table this community is dealing with. Hats off to Bob and Trista for having the guts to speak up. The rest of the community needs to be welling to stand up and say we’re not going to take this anymore!

Comment / By The Siskiyou Scribe / Yesterday, 3:58 p.m.

In Reference to the OPEN LETTER FROM KS WILD “A Monument won’t take anyone’s private property. A Monument won’t impact hunting, fishing, or firewood. A Monument won’t shut down any main roads or stop all timber sales.”

This is a hard guarantee to make considering, the highest level of hierarchical authority lies within the original proclamation of the president. The Siskiyou-Crest Monument Proclamation has yet to be written or made public. So we have to look to the last,local National Monument, Clinton’s Last Hurrah, “Cascade-Siskiyou National monument Proclamation” which, in Clinton’s own words, prohibits, ” The commercial harvest of timber or other vegetative material is prohibited, except when part of an authorized science-based ecological restoration project aimed at meeting protection and old growth enhancement objectives. ” Also, ” The Secretary of the Interior shall prepare, within 3 years of this date, a management plan for this monument, and shall promulgate such regulations for its management as he deems appropriate. The management plan shall include appropriate transportation planning that addresses the actions, including road closures or travel restrictions, necessary to protect the objects identified in this proclamation. ” which clearly lays out precedent for road closures.

Next we’ll examine Grazing, ” Should grazing be found incompatible with protecting the objects of biological interest, the Secretary shall retire the grazing allotments pursuant to the processes of applicable law. ” This is standard operating procedure of the National Monument process. Operation will be handed over to the BLM, which will halt all real access for 3 to 8 years while they develop a Resource Management Plan. The Concern of the people who live in the town’s affected by this plague of federalization, have sturdy ground to stand upon when holding suspicion towards any National Monument Proposals. Local and State Sovereignty Right’s are as much a part of this struggle as the right to mine gold on the River. Copyright, The Siskiyou Scribe, 2010.

Comment / By Linn walker,layton / Today, 10:38 a.m.

I grew up in Happy camp. My dad was a logging contractor and packed into the wilderness there. We had a great life. what a beautiful place to raise a family and be able to make a good living. we swam in elk creek, indian creek and floated the klamath. rode horses and camped in the beautiful mountains. That was all just before the spotted owl and all the other environmental insanities set in. Well a friend and i took a trip through happy camp just this summer. It hit me to the core to see what the town had become. I saw slums where there never was any. the town looked dirty and unkept with no more pride. looked to me as everyone just gave up the fight. there is no logging,no sawmill,and nothing there that would attract a tourist. except the beautiful landscapes. business looks to be dried up and the only thing that seemed to be there was the tribal counsel, one remaining grocery store, no good places to stop and have a nice meal. now they want to make it a national monument, which will most likely stop any travel into the mountains or on the river. when is the federal government going to wake up and realize that a huge chunk of revenue went out the window when so many people lost their livlihoods and way of life. well right now It is happening everywhere with millions still out of work. But the recession is over- just ask the feds.
it was a shocking journey back in time to experience un-happy camp

Comment / By Reno Flores / Today, 4:03 p.m.

I got to live in Happy Camp for 16 years and Loved every minute of it, I raised my family there and had so many good friends . Yes , we had to leave back in 1994 when the timber Industry took the Hit, but I will allways remember the GREAT times we had there and hope the remaining population will be able to prosper in some way. I truly am a Happy Camper…Long live BigFoot !

Comment / By Joseph Flaherty / Today, 5:28 p.m.

The Siskiyou Crest Monument idea is a great idea, but I will listen to any idea that addresses the very real problems of overgrazing, fire mismanagement, and wildlands access. Anyone visiting our local high country knows we are not making this stuff up.

I agree with Happy Camp locals who believe there may be other ways to address these issues. Through dialogue we probably could come up with a plan that more closely addressed the concerns of locals.

Unfortunately, healthy dialogue is not really possible in today’s environment. Is it? I live only 40 minutes drive from Happy Camp, but I am not even welcome to shop in the town’s stores. Considering the current atmosphere, I am not even sure I can get out of my car.

I believe the Karuk tribe has offered a model that the rest of us should notice. While we certainly have some Karuk friends, many members of the tribe remain skeptical of our plan. But that has not stopped them from inviting us into their communities to talk about it. Thanks to our dialogue, we have incorporated some of their ideas and continue to listen to them.

I am not opposed to logging. My house is built out of wood, straw, and mud. I cut the trees down myself. The forest belongs to all of us. We all have a stake in this conversation.

Comment / By Happy Camper Forever / Today, 5:33 p.m.

The town where I grew up is destroyed. I often think back to the “good” days of Happy Camp when I was a child growing up there.. everyonoe worked, the businesses in town were making money, no one worried about where their kids were or who they were hanging out with.. It has changed big time and it truely saddens me. Bob and Trista and every other person in that town has a right to post what they want and where they want it and I say to those of you who dont like it… LEAVE… Only the true Happy Campers know what is best for that town… Im so sick of outsiders coming in and deciding they know best.. Do they really?? NO.. Look at the decline of the town since the 90’s.. no tell me, do they really know best?? Track the history of Happy Camp.. and then again, do outsiders really know best? I dont think anyone in town cares if the above whiners dont shop at Parrys Market.. I hope the real true citizens of this town win this battle.. I know Ill be right there with them all the way..

Comment / By david wrobleski / Today, 5:33 p.m.

Thought provoking article and the comments section is worth reading. However, I do have some problems with the article. For instance…..Where did KS-Wild get their data and was it delivered in an un-biased fashion? I could just as easily say the opposite of what they said, and without the data to back me up, my argument would be just as empty as their argument. People complained about their rights being taken away by a sign at Parrys Market. What about the basic right of a business to refuse service to anyone? It seems as if they want it all their way. It reminds me of when I was an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. The protestors would always scream about “their” rights, and didn’t mind trampling on your rights if it suited their causes. Also, it was mentioned that there is good money to be had from grants. While that may be true for now, those grants could easily dry-up. Grants are basically handouts that one person worked for, by writing the grant. If the people in this town want to be dependent on handouts, that’s ok with me, but I would rather see this town self-sufficient, and not become any more dependent on a grant/welfare system. The Monument represents change, and people are naturally resistant to change. This Monument idea scares people, especially where there are so many unknowns factored into the equation. The track record is not good. In the past, every change here has resulted in the working man getting the shaft.

Comment / By Live in HC in the 80’s / Today, 7:37 p.m.

I grew up in Happy Camp in the 80’s and it was amazing place that was thriving and growing. When you take people’s livelyhood away from them, the poverty and drugs are going to take over. If you really want to have a say in things, try living in the town for awhile….If you want respect there, you EARN it!


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