Our Questions


This is the article which began this journey for us:

By David Smith of Siskiyou Daily News in print March 05. 2014
JH Ranch’s planned expansion draws opposition from Scott Valley neighbors

A battle involving constitutional principles and neighbor discontent is settling in as Siskiyou County opens public comment on JH Ranch’s rezoning application under a Planned Development Plan Amendment, which would have the area of operation more than doubling in size.


JH Ranch’s “big top” tent, used for certain large events

A battle involving constitutional principles and neighbor discontent is settling in as Siskiyou County opens public comment on JH Ranch’s rezoning application under a Planned Development Plan Amendment, which would have the area of operation more than doubling in size.

JH Ranch has been in operation since 1979 and is a 350-acre rural guest ranch for students, as well as parents and their teenage children. According to director Rob Hayes-St. Clair, “JH Ranch programs draw guests from across the country and provide a practical understanding of life purpose, personal principles, leadership values and how to strengthen family relationships.”

The ranch is situated approximately five miles southwest of the intersection of French Creek Road and Highway 3.

JH property is also surrounded by other private landowners, and Friday marked the opening of a comment period on the proposal to rezone the amount of existing land covered by its Planned Development District from 79.2 acres to 202.

The organization is also seeking a change to its planned development document to expand current occupancy limits to allow infrastructure and environmental capacity to dictate the number of guests that can be accommodated by ranch facilities.

According to the public review announcement, the occupancy limits are expected to increase to 975 occupants in permanent housing during peak summer months, 300 occupants in the winter and up to 1,600 in temporary housing for single events.

The proposal is drawing fire from citizen group Friends of French Creek, which has a devoted website calling on Scott Valley residents to oppose the rezoning and subsequent expansion of occupancy limits.

“The planned huge expansion of the organization’s existing facilities and capacity disrespects the values and principles of the community, as well as violating the goals of the Scott Valley Area Plan,” FOFC states on its website.
For FOFC members Michael and Betsy Stapleton, who own a ranch along French Creek, the potential impacts to neighboring residents outweigh the potential benefits of an influx of guests to the JH Ranch property.

The opposition movement also urges a more in-depth review of the PDPA utilizing the Scott Valley Area Plan, a 1980 citizen-driven initiative adopted by the county and aimed at directing growth in the Scott River watershed.

In an earlier interview, the Stapletons expressed concerns about impacts to water quality in the Scott River watershed, noise from ranch activities, the effect of increased traffic and impacts on deer herds migrating through the “critical deer wintering area.”

A study of noise generated by ranch operations prepared by SHN Consulting showed in 2010 that the ranch’s activities during the peak summer usage fell below 50 decibels as measured against the human hearing threshold.

Another study from SHN showed that at peak summer periods, traffic volume was as high as 493 per day on French Creek Road, which is listed by Siskiyou County as having the capacity to serve 1,408 vehicles per day without creating significant delays.

Both studies have been disputed by the FOFC.

Hayes-St. Clair expressed respect for the county’s planning department “for the uncompromised process and diligent adherence to the CEQA process. “This process that has spanned more than four years and cost well over $100,000 has included exhaustive environmental studies and analysis to ensure the proposed amendment wouldn’t impact the environment,” he said.

The Stapletons and the FOFC as a whole contend that the on-the-ground experience for neighboring residents is much worse than studies suggest, and JH Ranch states in the PDPA that all current and predicted uses fall within county plans, codes and requirements.

A 2012 letter from Downey Brand Attorneys argues that the county cannot “arbitrarily limit the Ranch’s ability to house campers and staff” based on the concept of interfering with the “rural character” of the county, and invokes the Constitution to protect its operation.
“Approving the PDPA?would ensure that the County does not run afoul of the Constitution when modifying and/or applying land use regulations with regard to the Ranch,”?the letter states.

The county has issued a Mitigated Negative Declaration, which paves the way for approval of the PDPA with mitigation measures to reduce potential negative impacts.

The 64-page document encompasses a vast array of proposed changes – including wastewater generation and viewshed impacts – and the measures the county hopes to enforce in order to reduce negative impacts of those changes.
Many of the mitigation measures trigger on the request for a building permit, and include stipulations that impacts be evaluated before a permit will be issued.

Comments on the PDPA can be sent to Siskiyou County Community Development Department, 806 S. Main St., Yreka, CA 96097, and will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. April 4.
The county has also reported that a Siskiyou County Planning Commission public hearing regarding the PDPA will be held at a date to be announced.

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Grandma used to say . . .

“Just because we raise alfalfa,

don’t think we are hay seeds.

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We need verifiable answers for these questions:

1) WHAT exactly ARE the constitutional principles referred to by JH attorneys in the SDN article dated March 5, 2014.

2) What Agreement does JH have with Etna High School that enables buses to bring JH kids to town at least once a week to shower at the high school facilities?

3) As a non-profit, does JH Ranch/Second Wind pay Siskiyou County Property taxes? If so, how much on each of their properties?

4) Has JH been billed for and paid Cal Fire’s $115 – $150 fire protection fee per habitable dwelling on the substantial number of ‘habitable dwellings’ on the Ranch’s property?

5) Does JH Ranch pay the County ‘Bed Tax’ paid by other businesses that house guests?

6) Has JH Ranch had some of their ‘Wilderness Permits’ revoked, or been placed on probation for exceeding the maximum limit of people for groups entering Wilderness areas?

7) AND the ‘age old’ supposition: is someone receiving benefit for letting all these infractions simply slide through’, while expansion continues to occur and occupancy limits are ignored?

If so, who; and if who, why and how much; and when will they be prosecuted?

There are Codes in effect for regular people like us who own property. If we are limited to 5 acres for building, then we are held to that.

Why has JH Ranch been permitted to operate by different rules for the past 21 years?


(Click on drawing to see it in larger format)

We have read what JH has published on their Fact website, and can only say:  there are ‘Media’ Facts and then there are ‘Verifiable’ Facts.

It is those verifiable facts that will tell the whole story.

Be sure to check back often, as we will post more ‘verified answers’ as our research provides them.

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Until soon,

Che’usa and Eb