How local far-right extremists sought to block Yuba’s wild & scenic river status

South Yuba River (Photo: Roger Hall)
South Yuba River (Photo: Roger Hall)
Most of us would agree that our community has benefitted from the efforts by SYRCL and others to win wild and scenic status for a stretch of the South Yuba River. More than 750,000 people annually visit the South Yuba River Park and countless more visit the other forks of the Yuba — providing a real economic boost.

But believe it or not, some people fought the plan before it was signed into law by Governor Gray Davis in 1999. “Serious misinformation regarding Wild and Scenic designation for the South Yuba is being circulated by local opponents Todd Juvinall and John McAlister in a concerted effort to influence public opinion.,” according to a SYRCL document from 1993. “South Yuba landowners and business supporters have received letters from McAlister’s ‘Yuba River Landowners Alliance’ containing significant inaccuracies and irrelevant facts regarding Wild & Scenic designation.

“The Nevada County Republican Central Committee, of which Juvinall is a member, has announced an anti-Wild & Scenic petition based on similar misinformation. Here are the myths and the facts concerning each of them:

“Myth: Nevada County taxes could increase.
“Fact: The local tax base is increased with the river protected.
Out-of-area visitors to the Yuba infuse the county with an estimated $20 million a year, a boon to local businesses and thus the tax base. (Figures: Ray Patton, California Department of State Parks). Additionally, property values tend to go up because people know the river is protected.”

“Myth: Juvinall and McAlister are circulating a PBS Frontline news report ‘For the Good Of All’ which they claim ‘graphically illustrates how the National Park Service took the homes and land of an entire town along the Chalayoka River in Ohio.’ They imply the same thing could happen on the South Yuba.
Fact: The National Park Service is NOT involved on the South Yuba. They own no land here.
Fact: The River name is really ‘Cuyahoga’.
Fact: The Cuyahoga is NOT a Wild and Scenic River. It is a National Recreation Area. The two are entirely different.
Bottom Line: This misinformation is totally irrelevant to the South Yuba.”

“Mr. Juvinall has repeatedly stated that his vocal opposition to Wild and Scenic designation is strictly that of a ‘concerned citizen’ interested in protecting private property rights. In a KNCO radio show July 28, 1993 he admitted being the Executive Director of the Nevada County chapter of the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners (CABRPO), although he has used its letterhead since last April. According to Juvinall, CABPRO is a non-profit organization, which he formed last March.

“However, Juvinall has yet to acknowledge ties to the Wise Use movement and its broad agenda, while he and associate John McAlister have been using Wise Use tactics and materials to build local opposition to Wild and Scenic Designation for the South Yuba.

“Those tactics include circulating misinformation; citing the Wild and Scenic Act out of context; use of facts and situations not relevant to the South Yuba; and inciting distrust of the federal government and fear of limitations on private property rights.”

Flash forward to 2016, where our local far right continues to debate issues with misinformation. One example that comes to mind is the recent fire tax proposal in South County.

The more things change, the more they stay the same! The SYRCL document and press release is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

4 thoughts on “How local far-right extremists sought to block Yuba’s wild & scenic river status”

  1. The key to gaining state W&S status for the So, Yuba River was the requirement that the Board of Supervisors would support the
    designation. That happened in 1999 when Elizabeth Martin and Bruce Conklin were elected and joined Sam Dardick and Peter Van Zant making a solid pro-river majority. That launched the W&S designation into the State process that was completed without much fanfare or serious opposition. Local politics does matter.

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