Modoc becomes second California county to back secession drive

The old county courthouse looms large in the Modoc county seat of Alturas, Calif.
(Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)

SAN FRANCISCO – Modoc County, in remote northeastern California, has voted to join neighboring Siskiyou County in its bid to withdraw from the state and team with southern Oregon counterparts to go it alone.

Tuesday’s 4-0 vote by the Modoc County Board of Supervisors – with one supervisor absent – to explore the pursuit of a state of Jefferson came just weeks after Siskiyou County supervisors voted 4-1 on a resolution to back secession.

Modoc’s board chairman, Geri Byrne, told the Redding Record-Searchlight that she placed the measure on the agenda “because I heard from a number of people in my district that wanted to do such.… We’re not saying we’re seceding today, we’re saying let’s look into it.”


“This is going to have to be something the people bring forward,” Byrne said. “It’s going to have to be from the bottom up, not from the top down.”

Mark Baird, a spokesperson for the Jefferson Declaration Committee, told the Redding paper that the group will ideally secure commitments from a dozen counties before asking California legislators to allow the formation of the new state. (Congress must also approve.)

“We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the north state,” Baird told the Record-Searchlight.

The concept of a state of Jefferson dates to 1941, when residents of Northern California and southern Oregon first banded together out of frustration with their respective state seats of government.

They were demanding better roads that would help them access natural resources.

World War II took the steam out of the movement in its infancy, but in California’s northernmost counties the spirit has lived on. Now, more than at any time over the last 72 years, some residents want to secede.

Their sentiments have been echoed in Colorado, where a group of rural counties have put the secession question to voters on the November ballot.


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