By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

A new option is being considered for breaching Lake Earl.

The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors will discuss signing an interim permit to maintain the lake level at eight feet instead of the four feet desired by flooded residents.

At least this a way we can breach the lake. And an interim permit will allow for more local management, said Martha McClure, Chairwoman of the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

A group of residents called Friends of the Lake say keeping Lake Earl at eight feet will still cause flooding to hundreds of acres of private land.

Dozens of people are flooded at eight feet. The only level that property isnt flooded is four feet, said Richard McNamara, Vice President of Friends of the Lake.

The concerned property owners say they purchased their lakeside land more than 30 years ago when lake levels were maintained at four feet. The lake is now just over nine feet high.

McNamara said the expansion of Lake Earl is part of the California Fish and Game Departments goal to increase wild life habitat.

In December, the fish and game department proposed a buy-out of lakeside properties to provide that wildlife habitat.

McNamara said he feels Fish and Game is manipulating the county into taking on the expense of expanding the lake.

If the county uses funds to assist in flooding private land, they will eventually have to pay when land owners file lawsuits against them, McNamara said.

Friends of the Lake want the county to pursue an emergency permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to breach the lake now, and then maintain the lake level at four feet.

The County Board of Supervisors did apply for an emergency permit on Dec. 26. Approval came from Fish and Game and the California Coastal Commission, but the required permission from the Army Corps of Engineers has not come.

McClure said applying for the interim permit, if approved, will allow for breaching the lake now - though only down to the eight foot level.

It will at least buy us some time to get a management plan, she said.

Its Fish and Games responsibility to come up with the management plan - which determines at what level to maintain the lake and how to maintain that level locally.

What upsets McNamara, he said, was the Army Corps will give the interim permit process the fast track and cause them to ignore the emergency permit.

It could potentially jeopardize the emergency permit, McClure said, but by co-applying for the interim permit with Fish and Game, the belief is that the Corps will push it forward allowing for a breach sooner than the process for an emergency permit.

McNamara said this is not the right solution to the problem.

Del Norte County should bow out of its role here on Lake Earl...The Board of Supervisors should not use any resources or personnel to aid the State of Californias black-hearted conspiracy against these good people, he said.

The issue of whether to apply for the interim permit will be discussed in a public meeting at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 9 at the Flynn Center.