51st state? State of Jefferson?


Northern California counties revive an old idea for a breakaway state

Tired of city-centric government control, rural Northern California counties consider separation — just as their forebears did.

YREKA, Calif. — Farmers, ranchers and onetime loggers were among those who packed a church community room here in August to listen to a former state lawmaker convey his vision of a cleaved — and more governable — California.


The theme was familiar, the resonance deep for those convinced that relentless regulation is strangling the economy of this northern border county. But this time, a tall man sporting a baseball cap stood up with a challenge.


“Are we just going to go have an ice cream and complain?” said Mark Baird, a pilot of 747 cargo planes who with his wife runs a cattle ranch and the local radio station. “Or are we going to do something about it?”

Within two weeks, Baird had crafted a declaration in support of the breakaway State of Jefferson and placed it on the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors agenda. It was approved a week later on a 4-1 vote.


And with that, a movement