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Browsing the archives for the Agriculture category.

Save the FFA — call Assemblyman Brian Dahle and Senator Ted Gaines

Agriculture

Contact Your Legislators to Save Career Technical Education

Governor Jerry Brown released his 2017-18 budget which proposes the complete elimination of funding for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, including the complete defunding of organizations like FFA.

The budget proposal will go before a key vote on Tuesday, May 23.
Your legislators need to hear from you NOW!

The proposal would allocate $48 million dollars in available CTE funds ENTIRELY to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to supplement other workforce development funds already in existence.  Specifically, this cuts the $15 million that used to flow to California Department of Education, which will lead to the ELIMINATION of funding to the following:

  • Career Technical Student Organizations, such as FFA.

  • Professional Development Activities for CTE Instructors, including agriculture teachers.

  • Partnership Academy Programs, which have proven to be highly effective models for engaging students in focused learning groups centered on themes and majors of interest.

  • The University of California Curriculum Institute, which assists CTE courses and programs in gaining UC/CSU recognition for admission purposes in meeting A-G course requirements.

These cuts would ultimately lead to the decimation of CTE programs. Contact your legislator immediately to express your concern regarding this proposal! Be sure to personalize the pre-drafted letter with your own CTE experiences.

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Water squeeze in Oregon’s Klamath Basin pits ranchers against tribes, both with strong ties to the land

Agriculture, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Lawsuits, Water rights

PNP comment: This is a fairly good background article on the lawsuit and eventual settlement in favor of the Klamath Tribes being allowed to take other water right users’ water allotments away. — Editor Liz Bowen

Oregon Live.com

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
Follow on Twitter
on July 06, 2013 at 12:00 PM, updated July 08, 2013 at 6:30 AM

SPRAGUE RIVER — A summer evening on Jim and Caren Goold’s  front porch. The river meanders through their cow pasture, a curly blue ribbon framed by foothills dotted with ponderosa pine. And, yes, the cattle are lowing.

It’s about as pastoral as a scene gets. But the upper Klamath Basin, already three months into a drought emergency, is far from peaceful this summer.

Two parties with strong ties to the land, the upper basin ranchers and The Klamath Tribes, are pitted against each other for limited water, the latest skirmish in one of the nation’s most persistent water wars. And deep historical divisions stand in the way of compromise.

In late June, a state watermaster handed Jim Goold a yellow card ordering him to shut off irrigation for the first time in his 40 years on the 617-acre ranch.

“It’s beyond frustrating,” Caren Goold says. “We have all this wonderful water going by and we can’t touch any of it.”

The Goolds worry they’ll lose pasture for 300-plus cows, their income and their ranch, where Jim’s parents are buried out back. They see a future land grab through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with land values falling as irrigation water evaporates.

Here’s where history’s twists come in. Much of the upper basin, including the Goolds’ ranch, was once The Klamath Tribes‘ reservation land. The federal government “terminated” the tribes in 1954, a move that included cash payouts, but is widely seen as a tribal disaster.

This year, fortunes sharply changed. The state of Oregon ruled that the tribes’ “time immemorial” water rights on the former reservation remain intact, giving the tribes a firm upper hand. Last month, tribal leaders called their water rights to sustain their hunting and fishing grounds, triggering the shutoffs.

Twenty miles down Sprague River Road, at the tribes’ offices in Chiloquin, Perry Chocktoot  talks about his own attachment to the land, too. He grew up hunting and fishing here. His grandmother taught him how to smoke and can fish –110 minutes, 15 pounds of pressure.

Chocktoot, the tribes’ cultural and heritage director, says court cases and water rights decisions should have warned the ranchers what was coming. But too many of them view Indians as “drunken idiots,” he says. “And, guess what, we’re not.”

“We’re here by the gift of our creator to help the community,” he says. “That mindset has never been reciprocal. They had a chance to effectively work with the tribes, but they said not just no, but hell no.”

Dry times

Absent a judicial reprieve or a settlement, the water rights decision means irrigation with river water will be shut off to hundreds of ranchers this summer, shriveling pasture for 70,000 to 100,000 cattle.

GS.10025953A_GR.KLAMATHFALLS-02.jpgView full size

So far, state watermasters have shut off water to roughly 300 irrigators on the Sprague and Williamson rivers, with more tributaries of Upper Klamath Lake still to be evaluated.

It’s an echo of Klamath water fiasco a decade ago.

In 2001, the U.S. government cut off water to irrigators who tap Upper Klamath Lake as part of the century-old federal reclamation project. The shutoff stemmed from Endangered Species Act listings of coho salmon and two species of suckers and strict ESA requirements on federal projects.

The next year, with intervention from Dick Cheney, the farmers got water instead, and 30,000 chinook salmon died in the lower Klamath River.

That crisis pushed project farmers to negotiate with the tribes, federal and state governments and others to share water and restore riverside habitat. The 2008 Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement was coupled with a plan to remove four PacifiCorp dams on the Klamath River by 2020, which would be the largest dam removal in U.S. history.

But this year is different. Cattle ranchers above the lake, outside the reclamation project, were free to irrigate despite the ESA listings — until this year’s water rights decision.

Many of the ranchers are still fighting, in court and on the streets. On Monday, they rallied in Klamath Falls, driving cattle trucks down Main Street.

They also have challenged the water rights decisions in Klamath County circuit court, asking for a stay this summer. They say the state gave the tribes more water than they need to support hunting and fishing habitat.

The tribes’ water calls would reduce irrigation even in normal water years, the ranchers argue. State officials figure tribal rights fall well below normal streamflows, but the ranchers think the state’s flow estimates are too high.

Roger Nicholson, who leads two ranching groups, raises cattle on 3,000 acres near Fort Klamath. Some of that land came from tribal members, he says, but most has been in his family since the 1890s.

The tribes’ water calls affect his draw even on streams outside the former reservation, he says, since those flows are needed to meet the water rights the tribes won downstream.

The water rights decisions were “a travesty of justice,” Nicholson says, and the shutoffs are “an economic catastrophe beyond compare.” Affected ranches cover more than 100,000 acres, ranching groups estimate.

“It’s bankrupting a whole community,” Nicholson says.

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/07/water_squeeze_in_oregons_klama.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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LaMalfa and Garamendi Introduce Legislation to Ease Restrictions on Agricultural Construction

Agriculture, Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA

April 27, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) announced the introduction of HR 2170, the FARM Cost Reduction Act. This bipartisan legislation would lift a de facto prohibition on construction and repair of agricultural structures in areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as flood risks. Under current law, areas designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) generally require all new, expanded or repaired structures to be raised above potential flood level. In many areas in Northern California, however, such restrictions would require raising barns and silos upwards of ten feet, adding prohibitive costs and lessening the utility of the structures.

The legislation also directs FEMA to develop a new flood mapping zone, which would be comprised of levee basins which are protected by levees that do not meet FEMA’s 100-year level of flood protection. Insurance rates in this zone would be based on actuarial risk, meaning if the levees provide a 50-year level of protection, FEMA would charge rates based on that risk level. Under current policy, if a levee does not meet the 100-year level of protection, FEMA assumes there is no protection at all, and charges rates that are structured like those that would be charged absent a levee.

LaMalfa said: “This bill keeps the North State’s farm economy growing and lowers costs for agriculture by modernizing federal flood insurance rules that currently place the same requirements on barns and silos as on suburban housing tracts. By recognizing that agricultural structures have different needs than residential neighborhoods, farmers will be able to build new barns, silos, and sheds and purchase insurance at reasonable rates. I am pleased to work with my colleague, Rep. Garamendi, and our bipartisan coalition to bring some common sense back to flood insurance requirements.”

Garamendi said: “Agriculture is the most responsible use of these floodplains because it keeps spaces open and limits development—both of which are essential to responsible flood control. Current regulations on agricultural structures pave the way for less responsible development and are actually counterproductive to decreasing flood risk. That’s why I’m proud to be working across the aisle with my neighboring Congressman, Doug LaMalfa, to improve floodplain management.”

Reps. LaMalfa and Garamendi have been longtime collaborators on this issue. They first introduced this legislation in the 113th Congress and continue to campaign for funding important local levee projects, the construction of Sites Reservoir, and other projects that will reduce flood risk and take advantage of excess surface flows to create new water to fit California’s expanding needs.

The FARM Cost Reduction Act is supported by the California Rice Commission, USA Rice Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, California Farm Bureau Federation, Sacramento County Farm Bureau, Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau, Yolo County Farm Bureau, California Cattlemen’s Association, Dairy Institute of California, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County, Sutter County, Butte County, and the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency.

Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.

 

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Klamath Tribes terminate water compact, potentially devastating ranchers, farmers

Agriculture, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Tribes, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Free Range Report.com

April 24, 2017

In April 2014, ranchers and the Tribes signed the Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The ranchers agreed to retire 18,000 acres of land or 30,000 acre feet of water and do riparian repair work on the rivers in exchange for an allotment of water each year…

At the end of February, the Tribes indicated to the ranchers they wanted to terminate the agreement…

Gerry O’Brien

Herald and News

Tribes issue water claim, ranchers fear the worst

There are few options for the Upper Klamath Basin ranchers who are now under a call for water from the Klamath Tribes, just as irrigation season is fast approaching.

The ranchers believe their livelihood is at stake and so may be much of the economy for the county. The issue affects some 300,000 acres of land and 1,000 or more ranchers north and east of Klamath Falls.

Two weeks ago, the Tribes called on its water rights for “flood plain” water on the Sprague and Williamson Rivers, which are running high due to spring runoff. The Wood River is under the same call, which is expected to take effect Monday, experts predict. All three feed into Upper Klamath Lake.

The Tribes have primary water rights, which supersede any secondary rights of the ranchers and irrigators.

The Herald and News was unable to get a comment from the tribal chairman for this story, but Chairman Don Gentry has said in the past the call was necessary now to benefit fish habitat in high water zones, basically flushing out the river to allow for new growth. That will help endangered fish, such as Lost River and short-nosed suckers, downstream.

The ranchers say that by June or July, pastures will be turning brown and those without underground wells and adequate stock water for cattle will be forced to ship cattle elsewhere for forage, an expensive proposition.

Options are limited

Ranchers hope to get the Tribes to either remove the call, or return to the bargaining table and hammer out a deal that would benefit both sides. Also, the state could join the negotiations or Congress could step in to help by pushing legislation to resolve the issue.

Those who have their water shut off, may file an appeal with the watermaster, which would put a hold on the shutoff unless the state rules otherwise. That could buy some time for the ranchers and the upper Basin irrigators are exploring that avenue.

Any federal appeal, such as seeking an injunction to the call, would be a costly proposition, experts say.

“This would not have happened if the unprecedented agreement (KBRA) produced by tribes, irrigators and conservationists had not been blocked. I stand ready to put in the work again to resolve this longstanding issue with an agreement that addresses the long-term needs of all the parties,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in an email.

(One reason the bill failed was it was tied to removal of four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. Congressmen in Northern California were opposed to the dam removal).

Andrew Malcolm, spokesman for Rep. Greg Walden, said, “This shows the continued need for a long-lasting solution in the Basin. Greg’s been working on these issues a long time, and continues to work with stakeholders to find a solution that has the needed support with the public and in Congress.”

What the call means

A few of the ranchers and irrigators met with the Herald and News editorial board last week to lay out their concerns.

In April 2014, ranchers and the Tribes signed the Upper Basin Comprehensive Agreement. The ranchers agreed to retire 18,000 acres of land or 30,000 acre feet of water and do riparian repair work on the rivers in exchange for an allotment of water each year. That pact was linked to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) for the lower basin that eventually failed to gain congressional approval. Without it, the agreements had no money to be carried out.

At the end of February, the Tribes indicated to the ranchers they wanted to terminate the agreement, but have yet to file formal notice of termination with the Interior Department.

“Last year, we worked under the agreement and there was no call,” said Larry Nicholson, a fourth-generation Forth Klamath rancher. He’s also a member of the Klamath Tribes. “Now there is no communication with the Tribes, and everything just fell apart. We have nothing else to give.”

The way the call works is: Any amount of water flowing above 2,190 cfs can be called on by the tribes; When flows get down to 2,190 cfs, the call ends and irrigators will be able to irrigate again. When flows hit 1,440 cfs the water is shut off for the summer.

So, once ranchers are able to turn the water back on, nearly all of them will begin irrigating as fast and as much as possible. Some experts say that could be a short window of just a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

“On the Wood, this a straight up call to shut the whole Wood River down for the summer,” said Larry Nicholson. “Unless we can come up with an agreement, it will be like a domino effect and the Wood River will be the first one to fall.”

Economic fallout

Roger Nicholson, a cousin of Larry’s, also has a longtime family ranch in the valley.

“It is going to start hurting shortly. These are Draconian instream flow levels. What adjudication has meant for us is a taking of our water,” he said. “We’re the whipping boy now.”

The economic impacts could be “a $1 billion hit” Roger Nicholson predicts. Not only will Klamath County suffer, the region will suffer, he said.

“We send cattle to the San Joaquin Valley for feed; we send them to the state of Washington as feeders and for the packing industry. I send 7,000 head alone. All that could go away,” Nicholson said. Plus, the ripple effects will be felt across the county, he warned.

Klamath Tribes terminate water compact, potentially devastating ranchers, farmers

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Klamath Tribe wants all the water

Agriculture, Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, cattle, Klamath Tribe, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Herald and News.com

Ranchers in the Upper Basin react

Tribal water call: ‘Devastating’

The call on water by the Klamath Tribes will be devastating economically for the cattlemen in the Upper Basin, affected ranchers said Tuesday.

The Tribes made the call last week. A water call puts the rest of the secondary water users on notice that the Tribes intend to use its water allocation in the Williamson, Sprague and possibly the Wood rivers for the benefit of fish habitat over irrigation for farming and cattle operations.

“This call is potentially devastating to both irrigators and the Tribes,” said Becky Hyde, a member of a long-time cattle ranching family in the Upper Basin above Upper Klamath Lake. “Our ag communities want what is best for the fish as well, but this puts a tremendous strain on our relationship with the Tribes.”

 While the call focuses on the current high water flows in the rivers — and if they fall to a certain level, irrigators can actually irrigate — there is still the concern that the irrigation window will be short-lived.

This is the first time the regulations have taken effect with spring runoff, which could run to June 1 or end sooner.

Water agreement

Hyde and several other ranchers spent years hammering out an Upper Basin agreement over water use with the Tribes. That agreement is still on the books, but has no funding behind it, hence is moot. The agreement would retire some 18,000 acres of land from use to put water back into the streams. In turn, there will be water security for ranchers.

Larry Nicholson, whose family also has historic cattle ranches on the Wood River, said the economic impact will be huge. A water call has not been made on the Wood, but Nicholson expects it.

“There are some 30,000 head of cattle that are moved into the area from ranches in California,” Nicholson said. “The grass in the Fort Klamath area is highly nutritious, but it is only good in the summer as it’s too cold to keep cattle there in the winter. Most ranches are not setup for stock water. If there is no water, the cattle will be kept in California, crowding out those ranch resources.”

After that …

“We have yearlings who need to grow all summer on grass,” Hyde said. “It’s a scramble to find alternative grazing. If you multiply that across the region, the water call a big deal,” she said. “We will be OK in the spring thanks to the early moisture and growing grasses. After that, it could be devastating.”

A couple of years back, Hyde shipped some cattle out after water supplies dwindled.

“This will be worse. There will be no water,” Hyde said.

Randall Kiser, who is a fifth-generation rancher on the Sprague and Wood, said, “When you have a snowpack at 138 of average and there is still a call for water, something is wrong.” Kiser, too, worked on the water pact with the tribes. Some 150 large and small ranches on the Sprague will be affected by the call.

“It’s a serious situation,” Kizer said.

“It would be nice if we could negotiate a settlement, finalize it and keep moving” he said. “This call affects everybody in the Upper Basin. When we last met in February, the Tribes told us they were ‘settlement-minded.’”

Fisheries status

Tribal Chairman Don Gentry said of the call Monday, “I understand the concerns for the agricultural community, but there needs to be concerns for the status of our fisheries.”

Both Hyde and Nicholson point out that the agreements work both ways. The idea was to have cattlemen build fences to keep cattle out of the rivers so fish habitat could grow.

“If you don’t have fences, it stands to reason the cattle will be drinking from the river,” Nicholson said, damaging habitat and eroding banks.

“Just having water doesn’t restore habitat,” Hyde said. “That’s where everyone loses. The Klamath Tribes have a powerful card that they are playing, but that doesn’t, mean they win in the end.”

READ it here

http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/local_news/ranchers-in-the-upper-basin-react-to-water-call/article_2e958a6e-14be-5def-bd13-7f69b6db4517.html

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

 

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CA. Fish and Wildlife (DFG) will be doing fly-overs in Siskiyou Co. today

Agriculture, California Rivers, Dept. Fish & Game, Property rights, Ranch life, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

I learned that CA F&G will be conducting low level flights over Scott Valley with a small plane in the coming days. The County has requested they stay above the required 500-foot level with respect to spooking cattle etc.

We also requested Elizabeth Nielsen, Siskiyou Co. Natural Resource Specialist, be able to fly with them to understand what they are looking for and with respect to the former elevation requirement. That request has been denied.

Ray A. Haupt

(530) 925-0444

PNP comment: Irrigation season began, in earnest, in Scott Valley on April 1, 2017, when most land owners were then able to open their headgates to legally obtain their water right. There are some water rights that do not begin until April 15.  Why DFG is flying this early in the season, when there is plenty of water for  irrigation, stock water and fish in the river is a BIG question mark? — Editor Liz Bowen

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R-CALF USA Statement on Renewed Beef Access to China

Agriculture, cattle, PRES. TRUMP

April 10, 2017

Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement following the Financial Times report that President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping reached an agreement over the weekend to allow US. beef into China.

“While we welcome the news that China intends to reopen its market to U.S. beef, steps must be taken to ensure the benefits from this expanded market flow all the way back to the farmers and ranchers who comprise the U.S. live cattle supply chain, and are not captured by the multinational meatpackers who will actually export the beef.

“Because the dangerous foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is endemic in China, we need assurances from the Secretary of Agriculture that we are not entering a quid pro quo with China as we did with Brazil, with which we agreed to relax our FMD restrictions in return for renewed access to the Brazilian market.  Doing this also with China would expose our domestic cattle herd to an unacceptable risk.

“We further call on the Administration to close the loophole that allows multinational meatpackers to circumvent the U.S. live cattle supply chain by sourcing live cattle from Canada and Mexico and exporting the resulting beef as if it was a product of the United States.  If the rule of origin that allows this deception is not changed, then multination meatpackers can capture the benefits of any new market without sharing those benefits with U.S. cattle producers.  This is because the faulty rule of origin allows meatpackers to bypass the U.S. live cattle supply chain.

“Also, the Administration must limit the multinational meatpackers’ ability to exercise their unprecedented buying power to reduce competition in the domestic cattle market If the meatpackers continue using their tremendous buying power to leverage down domestic cattle prices in the face of rising beef demand, then they will capture the beef profits that a competitive market should be allocating to upstream cattle producers, which is what the meatpackers did to cause the market collapse of 2015.”

# # #

R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.  

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Mighty L.A. water agency wants a share of Valley’s Sites Reservoir – and is willing to pay

Agriculture, Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Dams other than Klamath

Sac Bee.com

April 6, 2017

Southern California’s most powerful water agency is prepared to invest in Sacramento Valley’s proposed Sites Reservoir, a move that could broaden support for the $4.4 billion project but also raise alarms about a south state “water grab.”

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California would pour $1.5 million into pre-development work at Sites if Metropolitan’s board accepts a recommendation made by its executive staff Wednesday. The board plans to vote on the investment next Tuesday.

Metropolitan could increase its investment later in the project, which has the backing of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration. That would entitle the Southern California agency to control as many as 50,000 acre-feet of storage once the reservoir gets built, according to the Metropolitan staff report. Sites, to be built at a remote location straddling the Glenn-Colusa county line, would be able to hold up to 1.8 million acre-feet.

Metropolitan’s interest “further shows the value of Sites Reservoir as a solution,” said Jim Watson, general manager of the Sites Project Joint Powers Authority.

Watson acknowledged that Metropolitan’s involvement could create backlash about Southern California siphoning more water from the Sacramento Valley. But he said Metropolitan wouldn’t get a seat on the reservoir’s governing board. By state law, the board must be made up of representatives of Sacramento Valley water agencies, he said.

The advocacy group Restore the Delta, however, said Metropolitan is simply angling to take more water from the north. “They are really coming in as an outside power to control that watershed…the Sacramento River watershed,” said the group’s director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla.

Proponents say Sites would improve water storage and the environment, making water available to improve conditions of endangered fish species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Sites would be California’s seventh largest reservoir, and the largest built in the state since New Melones opened on the Stanislaus River in 1979. It would be an “off-river” reservoir fed by an underground 14-mile pipeline from the Sacramento River.

Until now, Metropolitan has been hesitant to commit to Sites. General Manager Jeff Kightlinger, in an interview last November, said the reservoir would have little value for Metropolitan unless the state builds its controversial twin tunnels in the Delta. Metropolitan is one of the leading backers of the $15.5 billion tunnels plan, which is designed to re-engineer the troubled Delta and smooth the delivery of Northern California’s water to points south.

Metropolitan is signing on to help with planning work on Sites, including preparation of an application to the State Water Commission for funding from Proposition 1, the voter-approved water bond that has set aside $2.7 billion for reservoirs and other infrastructure. Sites backers are seeking up to $2.2 billion from in Proposition 1 money, or half the total cost.

Under Proposition 1 rules, the state would gain control of up to half of Sites’ water for environmental purposes if it subsidizes the reservoir with bond money.

Read more here:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article143081329.html#storylink=cpy

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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WLJ Guest Opinion: Is your local government prepared?

Agriculture, Liberty, President Trump and officials, Property rights

Western Livestock Journal

March 27, 2017

By Karen Budd-Falen

Is your local government prepared?

President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have made promises about moving federal agency decision making back to the local level, putting Americans back to work and ensuring that the public lands are managed for “multiple use.”

While that sounds wonderful, making those promises means more than a directive from Washington D.C. It means that your local governments have to take the lead in dealing with the federal agencies. Local decision making is not just for counties with federal lands, but federal decisions can impact the use of private property as well.

There are three major ways that a local government can influence federal agency decisions; the type of process used by a local government will depend on the type of decision to be made and the time constraints of the local government. One type of local participation is not “better” or “worse” than another type. Again, it depends on the type of decision to be influenced and the preference of the local government.

So, again, I would pose the question: Is your local government prepared for local decision making? The following should help:

Consistency review

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) mandate that federal agency actions be as consistent as possible with local land-use policies or plans (LUP) and that the federal government must attempt to reconcile its federal decisions with the local LUP.

Those provisions are key in implementing the president’s promises, but there is a catch. In order to require this “consistency review,” a local government has to have a written local LUP, otherwise there is nothing for the federal agencies to be consistent with.

In my view, first, a local government should start with a review of the federal actions that the local government thinks will happen within the area. For example, are there threatened or endangered species or species of concern that will impact your constituents’ private property? Is the BLM or Forest Service revising its land-use plans or implementing their land-use plans? Was a local area included within a national monument, meaning that a management plan will have to be prepared? Are there any special designation lands that have been proposed like wild and scenic rivers, wilderness or conservation areas? Or are there other federal decisions that may impact the private property of your constituents and/or the public lands?

Second, the local government should determine its processes for dealing with the federal agencies. When do you want to update the federal agencies regarding the local government’s activities and when does the local government want updates from the federal agencies? How do you propose transmitting the local LUP to the federal agencies and offices? What is the local government’s view of “early consultation?” How does the local government want “coordination” to occur? These processes should be carefully articulated in the local LUP.

Third, the local LUP should discuss the “custom and culture” of the citizens, the history of the area, and the environmental features important to the local government. This information can come from historical accounts, personal stories, and environmental descriptions such as state wildlife habitat maps, National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil descriptions, forage surveys, and other data. I do not believe that a local government has to gather new data or participate in new studies, but it is important to compile existing data from as many sources as possible to support your policies.

Fourth, your local LUP should include economic data and analysis. This should be more than just gathering employment statistics. Rather, the economic data included in the local LUP should support the local government’s policies. For example, if agriculture is important to the local economy, the local LUP should describe the economic detriment of a federal decision that would reduce animal unit months (AUMs) on public land or restrict grazing on private land. Most land-grant universities have good statistical data that can assist you with this analysis. You should also include information like circulating dollars, job numbers for the various economic segments, etc.

Finally, once the data is gathered, the local LUP should include the policies that the federal agencies should use for consistency review purposes. I believe that these policies are always stronger and provide a good basis from which the local government can work, if they are based on the data described above regarding custom and culture, economic stability and environmental protection.

I do not believe a simple “wish list” from the local government is a strong basis for protecting your constituents.

Additionally, in making decisions in compliance with NEPA, the federal government must use the “best data and information available.” The best available information about the local effects of a federal decision on the local custom, culture, economy and environment should come from the local government itself.

Note that your local LUP has to be in compliance with federal statutes and regulations with the “full force and effect of law.” However most federal statutes are very broadly written and allow for the survival of the local citizens, businesses and economies; the local government just has to assert those requirements.

Coordination

FLPMA and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) also require “coordination.” Coordination is a process; not a result. Additionally, while your local government should “coordinate” with the federal agencies to protect their constituents and influence federal decisions, there is no statute dictating the specifics of the coordination process. Because the elements or steps of coordination are not statutorily defined, local governments should use their local LUP to define what coordination means and how it should work.

Cooperating agency status

NEPA also allows local governments to participate in an agency decision making process as “cooperating agencies.” An applicant for cooperating agency status must both (1) be a locally elected body such as a conservation district board of supervisors or a county commission; and (2) possess “special expertise.”

A local government’s special expertise is defined as the authority granted to a local governing body by state statute. Being a cooperating agency allows the local government to participate in the “identification team” with a federal agency. It is just another tool that a local government should consider when dealing with federal agencies.

Local governments can have a major impact on federal agency decisions if they are prepared and willing to take on the challenge. There are over 1,000 counties in the U.S. with a population of less than 10,000 citizens. Each one of these rural counties should have a voice in federal decisions that impact it. Is your county prepared? — Karen Budd- Falen, Senior Partner at Budd-Falen Law Offices LLC

http://npaper-wehaa.com/wlj#2017/03/27/?article=2894910

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Judge dismisses lawsuit against grazing on eight Oregon allotments

Agriculture, cattle, Courts, Endangered Species Act, Lawsuits, Liberty

PNP comment: Finally, a judge that makes some sense from outrageous claims — the claims are just plain wrong! — Editor Liz Bowen

A federal judge has rejected arguments that cattle grazing hurts endangered sucker fish in violation of forest management law.

Capital Press

Mateusz Perkowski

Published on March 11, 2017 2:39PM

A federal judge has rejected environmentalist arguments that cattle grazing has unlawfully harmed endangered sucker fish in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke has thrown out a lawsuit by three environmental groups — Oregon Wild, Friends of Living Oregon Waters and the Western Watersheds Project — which claimed that grazing was unlawfully authorized on eight allotments in the Lost River watershed.

The plaintiffs accused the U.S. Forest Service of “ignoring widespread evidence of riparian problems” that adversely affected the Lost River sucker and shortnose sucker, which are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

However, the judge has ruled that plaintiffs failed to prove that grazing degraded streams in violation of the National Forest Management Act.

Conditions have improved in many riparians areas despite continued grazing while recovery trends are “not significantly different” among sites that are grazed and those that are not, Clarke said.

“This would tend to indicate grazing is not the reason for any failure to attain (riparian management objectives) in streams found on the challenged allotments,” he said.

While the environmental groups have pointed to evidence of deterioration along portions of some creeks, they haven’t shown “watershed level” and “landscape-scale” failures to live up to fish-recovery objectives, Clarke said.

The “creek-specific observations” by environmental groups aren’t enough to “successfully rebut” the Forest Service’s interpretation of the data, he said.

“Finally, many of the creek assessments plaintiffs point to as evidence of a failure to attain (riparian management objectives) actually show improving or stable trends,” the judge said.

The Forest Service’s decision to authorize grazing on the eight allotments was based on “reasonably gathered and evaluated data” related to fish recovery strategies mandated under the National Forest Management Act, he said.

Clarke also dismissed the plaintiffs’ Endangered Species Act arguments, ruling they were moot because future grazing approvals will rely on a new consultation among federal agencies on the two fish species.

The environmental groups’ claims of National Environmental Policy Act violations were likewise dismissed because the plaintiffs hadn’t fully “exhausted” administrative challenges against grazing plans, the ruling said.

New information that’s emerged about threats to the fish and their critical habitat doesn’t rise to the level of requiring additional environmental analysis of grazing, Clarke said.

For example, although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reached the “alarming” conclusion that shortnose suckers face a “high degree of threat of extinction,” this finding doesn’t influence the Forest Service’s assessment of grazing, he said.

“While FWS concluded that significant threats to shortnose suckers’ viability remain and thus that their chance of extinction is high, it did not identify grazing as one of those threats; in fact, it made no mention of grazing at all,” the judge said.

http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20170311/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-against-grazing-on-eight-oregon-allotments

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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