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Browsing the archives for the Agriculture – California category.

L.A. took their water and land a century ago. Now the Owens Valley is fighting back

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

L.A. took their water and land a century ago. Now the Owens Valley is fighting back

Los Angeles Times

A century ago, agents from Los Angeles converged on the Owens Valley on a secret mission.

They figured out who owned water rights in the lush valley and began quietly purchasing land, posing as ranchers and farmers.

Soon, residents of the Eastern Sierra realized much of the water rights were now owned by Los Angeles interests. L.A. proceeded to drain the valley, taking the water via a great aqueduct to fuel the metropolis’ explosive growth.

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Farmer Faces $2.8 Million Fine for… Plowing His Field!

Agriculture - California, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs, Over-regulations

Freedom Outpost.com

Tim Brown

A California farmer is facing $2.8 million in fines for plowing his field and planting wheat without a permit.

John Duarte of Duarte Nursery is David going up against Goliath, just like ranchers, farmers and natural health product makers.  His case could set a dangerous precedent that would require farmers to obtain expensive and time-consuming permits from the US Army of Corps Engineers before planting crops.

“The case is the first time that we’re aware of that says you need to get a (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit to plow to grow crops,” said Anthony Francois, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation. “We’re not going to produce much food under those kinds of regulations.”

However, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller sided with the Army Corps last June, in which the US Attorney’s Office is asking for $2.8 million in civil penalties.

Why?  Who was harmed?  What real and actual crime took place?

USA Today has the background of the story that began in 2012 when Mr. Duarte planted wheat on land that he bought with his own money, some 450 acres.

Because the property has numerous swales and wetlands, Duarte hired a consulting firm to map out areas on the property that were not to be plowed because they were part of the drainage for Coyote and Oat creeks and were considered “waters of the United States.”Francois conceded that some of the wetlands were plowed but not significantly damaged. He said the ground was plowed to a depth of 4 to 7 inches.

The Army Corps did not claim Duarte violated the Endangered Species Act by destroying fairy shrimp or their habitat, Francois said.

This particular freshwater species is unique to California and southern Oregon and has been classified as a threatened species since 1994 because much of its wetlands in California’s Central Valley were converted to cropland or became urban.

Duarte’s wheat was planted but not harvested because in February 2013 the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued orders to stop work at the site. The agencies claimed Duarte had violated the Clean Water Act by not obtaining a permit to discharge dredged or fill material into seasonal wetlands considered waters of the United States.

Duarte sued the Army Corps and the state, alleging they violated his constitutional right of due process by issuing the cease and desist orders without a hearing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office counter-sued Duarte Nursery to enforce the Clean Water Act violation.

Farmers plowing their fields are specifically exempt from the Clean Water Act rules forbidding discharging material into U.S. waters, Francois said.

The government claims that Duarte did not plow but rather used a ripper, which dug 10 inches into the soil and they allege that it disturbed portions of the property that included wetland areas.

“Even under the farming exemption, a discharge of dredged or fill material incidental to the farming activities that impairs the flow of the waters of the United States still requires a permit because it changes the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters,” the U.S. attorney said in court filings.

Francois claims the penalties are unfair because his client believed the plowing exemption allowed him to till the soil.

“A plain reading of the rules says you don’t need a permit to do what he did,” Francois said. “How do you impose a multimillion penalty on someone for thinking the law says what it says?”

Indeed, but even more to the point, what business does the government have telling a man whether or not he can plow or not on his own land?  This is not about wetlands and animals or rivers.  This is about controlling people and their property.  I wish people would wake up to what is taking place in this country with regards to central government controlling land and imposing heavy regulations on private property.

Farmer Faces $2.8 Million Fine for… Plowing His Field!

 

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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California Cattleman’s Assoc. led charge to stop Wild & Scenic Rivers expansion

Agriculture - California, cattle, State gov

CCA Defeats Legislation to Expand Wild & Scenic Rivers

CCA and a diverse coalition of agricultural and business groups held legislation in the California State Assembly late Thursday night that sought to expand protections for rivers designated as wild and scenic under the California Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Specifically, AB 975 by Assembly member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), which proposed to increase designated  areas currently confined to the river to also include land 1/4 mile on each side of the river. Land use activities such as grazing and permitted water rights within the 1/4 mile could have been severely impacted.

CCA’s and the coalition’s strong opposition to the bill blocked the author from obtaining the 41 votes necessary to advance the legislation to the Senate. Today is the last day for Assembly bills to be sent to the Senate and Senate bills to be sent to the Assembly or otherwise be ineligible to be heard for the rest of the calendar year. The Assembly will not meet again until Monday and therefore the legislation is effectively dead for 2017.

CCA appreciates all those members of the Assembly who held firm in their opposition to AB 975. CCA also appreciates ranchers who responded to the two CCA action alerts issued over the last two weeks to contact their Assembly members to oppose the legislation – it made a difference. Don’t hesitate to contact Justin Oldfield in the CCA office for more information.

Elizabeth Nielsen

Natural Resources Policy Specialist

County of Siskiyou

1312 Fairlane

Yreka, CA 96097

o: (530) 842-8012

c: (530) 598-2776

 

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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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Agriculture has been hammered by environmental water regulations

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Endangered Species Act

New report shows thousands of California jobs lost due to water cuts

KERO

A report released today by the Southern California Water Committee and the Committee for Delta Reliability exposes the unintended consequences of nearly two decades of water cuts caused by environmental regulation – showing the hardest hit are those who rely on agriculture to survive, such as farmworkers, food processors, truck drivers and warehouse workers, among many others.

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State awards $275 million contract for Oroville Dam repairs

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California Rivers, California water

Sac Bee.com

Kiewit Corp., a construction giant with extensive experience in dam projects, was awarded the massive repair job at troubled Oroville Dam on Monday.

The California Department of Water Resources announced that Kiewit, based in Omaha, Neb., beat two competitors for the job with a $275.4 million bid.

Kiewit had the low bid, although its offer was still higher than DWR’s internal estimate that the project would cost $231 million. (DWR said on Saturday that it estimated the project would cost $220 million, but released a corrected estimate Monday.)

Repairs are expected to began in late May or early June. Fixing Oroville Dam’s two spillways will be a daunting project, so complicated that it won’t be completely finished until sometime in 2018. DWR officials have said, however, that they expect the first year’s worth of repairs will leave the structures serviceable for the upcoming rainy season.

Oroville’s main spillway cracked in two Feb. 7 during a heavy rainstorm, prompting dam operators to reduce outflows as they contemplated repairs. Five days later, as the lake filled up and water flowed over the nearby emergency spillway for the first time ever, officials ordered a mass evacuation when they feared the emergency structure would fail because of erosion on the hillside just below the concrete lip. The evacuation was rescinded two days later.

Kiewit’s dam projects include the $900 million auxiliary spillway set to open this fall at Folsom Dam.

The company beat out Barnard Ames JV, an affiliate of Barnard Construction Co. of Bozeman, Mont., which offered to do the job for $277 million; and Oroville Dam Constructors, a joint venture between Teichert Construction of Sacramento and Granite Construction of Watsonville, which bid $344 million.

The contract calls for repairs to both spillways.

State officials have said they expect customers of the State Water Project to pay for the repairs, although they intend to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial help.

Lake Oroville is California’s second largest reservoir and the linchpin of the State Water Project. The SWP’s largest customer is the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million customers.

Read it here:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article145144129.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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Central Valley Project water allocations hit 100 percent – first time since 2006

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, California water, Federal gov & land grabs, State gov

Read more here:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article144007699.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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Trump administration boosts Mojave Desert water project

Agriculture - California, California water, Dams other than Klamath

The Trump administration has removed a major roadblock to plans by a Santa Monica company to pump ancient groundwater from below the Mojave Desert and sell it to urban areas of Southern California.

The federal Bureau of Land Management has rescinded a 2015 administrative finding that Cadiz, Inc. needed to obtain a federal right of way permit and thus had to complete comprehensive environmental studies before it could build a water pipeline within 43 miles of railroad right of way owned by the Arizona & California Railroad.

The move follows a January decision by the Trump transition team to put Cadiz on a list of priority infrastructure projects, and a state appellate court’s rejection last year of a lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging the project.

The $225 million Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project still needs approval from the powerful Metropolitan Water District to use the Colorado River Aqueduct to ferry the water to urban Southern California.

Cadiz company officials said in statement that they are pleased with the Trump administration’s decision. The statement said they have always believed “the BLM’s 2015 evaluation was contrary to law and policy.”

In 2008, Cadiz entered into a lease agreement with the railroad company to build a pipeline in between the wells it owns in the Mojave Desert area, west of Needles and south of Interstate 40, to the Colorado River, using the railroad’s right of way over federal land.

From the river area, the water could be ferried to urban Southern California using the aqueduct and reservoir system operated by the Metropolitan Water District.

“Our discussions are continuing about what would be required before they can put water in the Colorado River Aqueduct,” said water district spokesman Bob Muir.

In 2002, the water district’s board voted down an earlier version of the Cadiz project that also needed to use the aqueduct.

The project is staunchly opposed by environmental and desert advocates, who say it would rob the desert of the water that plants and wildlife need to survive.

“Many of the springs and seeps are going to dry up because of groundwater extraction,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

She is particularly concerned that the pumping would harm the Mojave National Preserve and recently created Mojave Trails National Preserve.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement that the new administration was muscling through the project without proper reviews. Feinstein is an ardent desert supporter who authored the California Desert Protection Act that created the preserve and other protections more than 20 years ago.

“The Trump administration wants to open the door for a private company to exploit a natural desert aquifer and destroy pristine public land purely for profit,” her statement said.

“The administration is completely undermining federal oversight of railroad rights-of-way.“

http://www.dailynews.com/environment-and-nature/20170405/trump-administration-boosts-mojave-desert-water-project

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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Oroville Dam fix to span two years, but some key work due before winter rains

Agriculture - California, California Rivers, California water, Dams other than Klamath

April 6, 2017

Sac Bee.com

Read more here:

http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article143200489.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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State water agency unlikely to meet deadlines to repair Oroville Dam spillway, expert says

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather

L.A. Times

March 24, 2017

An engineering expert who visited the troubled Lake Oroville reservoir said this week that it would be nearly impossible for the state to complete temporary repairs to its fractured and eroded main spillway by a target date of Nov. 1.

In a report submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week, a panel of five independent consulting engineers warned that “a significant risk would be incurred” if the main spillway was not operational after October, which is the traditional start of California’s rainy season.

MORE

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-oroville-repair-timeline20170324-story.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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