It was standing room only as a consortium of landowners sought restitution from the county owned railroad.
Entering the commissioner’s regular session en masse on Wednesday, Feb. 20, rancher Herb Jasper and County Account Specialist Nikki Alves did most of the talking.
As the Lake Railway operated line runs through many landowners in Lake and Modoc County on the way to its termination in Alturas, the group that confronted the commissioners had three main complaints.
They found cattle guards along the line to be unsafe for grazing livestock. They said derailments and spooked cows caused broken fences. Finally, the transportation of cars through the vicinity added to the spread of invasive species that they felt they could not spray fast enough to contain.
The group specifically referred to Oregon Revised Statute 608.310 which states, “Ever person, or the lessee or agent of the person, owning or operating any railroad, shall erect and maintain good and sufficient lawful fences on both sides of the railroad line… Such person shall also at the same time erect and maintain necessary farm crossings and gates and sufficient cattle guards at all public crossings.”
“We would like the county to consider in future years some allocation to funding some maintenance and repairs,” Jasper said to the commissioners. “We want to cooperate with Lake County and that’s the solution we need to look at here.”
He said that the group wanted the county to take those suggested funds into consideration during their upcoming budgetary discussions.
Alves, who said that her family homesteaded in their current ranch, echoed his thoughts, bringing greater attention to the noxious weeds that their spraying efforts could not manage. “I definitely don’t want to see the railroad fail on these issues, but I don’t want to see my business fail as well,” she said.
The commissioners invited Pres. Paul Didelio to the meeting where he heard the concerns expressed. He reacted understandingly, agreeing to look into the cattle guards and problematic trestles of which he was unaware. However, he ultimately saw the fences as the ranchers’ responsibility.