A statue in the Yreka Historic District in Yreka, Siskiyou County, California. (CC/DCoetzee)
A rural Northern California county has voted to secede from the state, and has invited other counties in California and Oregon to join them in creating the state of "Jefferson."
The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the plan, which was supported by more than 100 residents at a crowded meeting.
Residents of the rural Gold Rush county are concerned about water rights, saying the $150 fire prevention fees for rural residents are unfair. They also claim a lack of representation in Sacramento.
Only Board Chair Ed Valenzuela voted against the plan, saying that he was elected to uphold the current California state constitution. "I don’t agree with it all the time, but I did sign up for that and I will continue to do so,” he said.
At least one neighboring county is considering the plan. Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn said he believes the state of Jefferson is a good idea.
“There has been a total lack of respect of our water rights and the fire fee," Bohn said. "Those things may not be important to the rest of the state, but it’s important to us.”
Both the state and Congress would have to approve a secession, which is highly unlikely. Siskiyou County has a population of just 44,000, including six towns with populations over 1,000, compared with California's total population of 38 million.