As the nation's laws and regulations expand, we're seeing expanded fights between various members of the public sector. I spent the weekend in Yreka. Residents up there fly the "Jefferson" flag, which refers to a small secessionist movement that unites rural counties on both sides of the California/Oregon border. This is where federal endangered species laws have shut down the lumber industry, where federal water restrictions have killed the fishing industry and where residents are fighting the latest environmental cause in California -- busting dams to re-wild the landscape.
That will put an end to agriculture and the remaining rural economy, residents fear. Local ranchers, tired of having federal officials showing up uninvited on their ranches to check for compliance with myriad environmental rules, organized the Save Rural America conference. Several sheriffs from northern California and southern Oregon rural counties vowed to use their powers to stand up to federal officials who they say are abusing their powers and running roughshod over state and local laws. For instance, Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson said we are watching "an assault on people by our own government." Good for these sheriffs for taking a stand on behalf of the people they are sworn to serve and protect. These are tiny population counties, so the odds are stacked against them. But it was downright amazing to watch a panel with eight county sheriffs vowing to stand up to their own government.