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Browsing the archives for the Water rights category.

Opinion: Learn from history … fight to keep your water

California water, Op-ed, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Looks like the coho salmon is the only fraud perpetrated on farmers and ranchers and fishermen. — Editor Liz Bowen

OPINION: Learn from history … fight to keep your water

Modesto Bee

At an important meeting last week in Modesto, The Bee reported, Francisco Canela, a member of the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee, asked one of the state’s top water regulators a great question:

“Where’s the end game for this community? That’s our concern. We’re giving more water and more water, and we aren’t getting anything back.”

The short answer to Canela’s question is that the community will never get back any water or anything else.

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Who will go extinct first, salmon or Valley farmers?

Agriculture - California, Endangered Species Act, Hypocrisy, State gov, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Enviros and government agencies NOT sharing the water is an issue throughout California. — Editor Liz Bowen

Who will go extinct first, salmon or Valley farmers?

Modesto Bee

Here, on the front lines of the state’s recently declared water war, we have more questions than ammunition. Is the State Water Resources Control Board serious? Is the water board even in charge? Was Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for “voluntary agreements,” instead of regulatory demands, a suggestion or an order? Who will go extinct first – salmon or farmers?

OK, that’s a rhetorical question; salmon have a huge head start. But the race isn’t over. To recap: Battle was enjoined Sept. 15 when the water board re-released its justification for taking more water from the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers – which combine to create the San Joaquin before it reaches the Delta.

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Water rights discussion at Yreka Patriots meeting 8-30-16

TEA Party, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Yreka Tea Party Patriots

Meeting for Tuesday, Aug. 30th

6:30 PM at the Covenant Chapel Church

200 Greenhorn Rd.   Yreka 


Angelina Cook

Stewardship Coordinator

Mt. Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center

                 Speaking in favor of Measure H

Groundwater Management Initiative Seeking to Amend Siskiyou County Code


Andy Fusso

Treasurer Mt. Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center 

Speaking against “Measure G” 

            The Siskiyou County General Retail Sales Tax Measure”

                                                                                                                    Be an informed voter, plan to attend                  


Free….no membership.  Doors open at 6PM, come early to socialize with likeminded people.

Questions, Contact Louise @ 530-842-5443

I highly recommend that you read the measures before you come to the meeting so that you can ask informed questions. See instructions below on where to find the ballot measures:

To read text of Measures H and G go to:


Click on Elections, Registrar of Voters  (first paragraph on the page)

Scroll down the page to find G and H

Here is a very short description of the ballot measures that will be discussed at  this meeting.


Groundwater Management Initiative Seeking to Amend Siskiyou County Code.

Shall the County of Siskiyou amend Articles 1 through 3 of Chapter 13 of Title 3 of the Siskiyou County Code to extend the requirement to obtain a groundwater extraction permit to all other groundwater sources in the County not currently defined as a groundwater basin when groundwater is extracted for use outside the County, and to remove the permitting exemption for commercial water bottling enterprises?

Measure G

.25% general sales tax for the County which can be used to pay on a loan for a new jail.  The tas  will end when the loan is paid off.


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Guest View: What you should know about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

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

PNP comment: This is basic information regarding the state’s Ground Water Management Plan. Scott Valley began working on its ground water study 10 years ago and has an active Scott Valley Groundwater Committee that is working closely with the County of Siskiyou — all to keep the studies, plan and decisions in local hands! Our ground water is very different from many basins in the rest of the state and must be managed through real and practical knowledge that has been gathered here. Good job Scott Valley farmers and landowners! — Editor Liz Bowen


Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 8:22 pm

An overview

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, known as SGMA, is comprehensive statewide groundwater legislation that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015. SGMA requires for the first time sustainable groundwater management throughout California. The legislation allows local agencies to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans specific to local conditions, however, if local agencies cannot or will not manage groundwater sustainably, the state will step in.

SGMA mandates that all high and medium priority groundwater basins in California must be managed sustainably over a 20-year implementation period. In Colusa County we have two groundwater basins subject to SGMA: the Colusa subbasin and the West Butte subbasin. Both basins span multiple counties and SGMA implementation efforts must be coordinated basin-wide. Cooperation and coordination among agencies and landowners is crucial to successful SGMA implementation, and to maintaining local control over our groundwater resources.

What is sustainability?

Sustainable groundwater management is defined as the management and use of groundwater without causing undesirable results. The California Department of Water Resources has developed Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulations which define six “Sustainability Indicators” for undesirable results. These conditions must be avoided for a basin to be considered sustainable:

1. Significant and Unreasonable reductions in Groundwater Levels

2. Significant and Unreasonable reductions in Groundwater Storage

3. Significant and Unreasonable Land Subsidence

4. Significant and Unreasonable reductions in Groundwater Quality

5. Significant and Unreasonable reductions in Groundwater-Surface Water Interaction

6. Significant and Unreasonable Seawater Intrusion (we do not have to address this criteria in Colusa County)

Since groundwater conditions vary greatly throughout the state, “significant and unreasonable” is defined at the basin level by local agencies.

Who will be in charge?

SGMA requires formation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, which will be responsible for developing and implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans. Only local public agencies with water supply, water management or land use responsibilities are eligible to be a GSA. These agencies include counties, cities, irrigation and reclamation districts, and public utility districts, or similar. GSAs will have many authorities and responsibilities related to SGMA.

Private landowners are not eligible to be a GSA. Counties are presumed to be the GSA over the “white areas,” or “private pumper” areas, which are areas of the county that are not covered by another GSA-eligible agency (city, irrigation district, etc.). This can be seen as problematic because the legislation does not give landowners in the private pumper areas a voice, yet these landowners rely on groundwater as their sole source of irrigation, which makes them key players in successful groundwater management.

Colusa County has given our private pumpers a greater voice in SGMA planning and implementation by forming a Private Pumper Advisory Committee (PPAC). The PPAC is made up of 7 members and 3 alternates. Members of the PPAC are private pumper individuals from throughout the County, chosen by the Colusa County Groundwater Commission. The PPAC acts as advisory to the County regarding concerns and issues of the private pumpers, and they are also responsible for providing SGMA outreach to their neighbors. PPAC members have been actively involved in Colusa County’s SGMA planning efforts.

In order to determine local governance, GSA-eligible agencies in Colusa County have been meeting over the last several months to determine how/if they want to participate in governance. “Efforts are underway now in Colusa County to determine a local GSA structure, including which agencies will participate in SGMA implementation,” said Mary Fahey, Colusa County Water Resources Coordinator. Fahey went on to say, “Things are starting to move quickly and now is the time for landowners to become engaged in local SGMA planning efforts. All of our meetings are open to the public, and our website is a great resource where you can find meeting agendas, presentations and summaries, as well as general information on SGMA.”

The county would like to remind its citizens that SGMA affects every well owner in California, which is why it is so important for the general public to be informed. Colusa County Supervisor, Denise Carter said, “SGMA planning efforts have been taking place in Colusa County over the past year and a half, and important governance decisions will be made over the next few months. I highly encourage landowners to participate in this process by attending our public meetings and staying informed.”

SGMA deadlines

• June 30, 2017: GSAs must be formed in all high and medium priority groundwater basins

• Jan. 31, 2022: Groundwater Sustainability Plans must be completed for all high and medium priority basins that are not in overdraft (Jan. 31, 2020 for basins in overdraft).


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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Hage Set to Appeal Ninth Circuit Ruling in Forage Right

Agriculture, cattle, Federal gov & land grabs, Forestry & USFS, Lawsuits, Property rights, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

MARCH 31, 2016

Case to U.S.  Supreme Court; Western Water Law Hangs in the Balance

             In January, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Susan P. Graber, Kim McLane Wardlaw, and Mary H. Murguia, Circuit Judges, in an opinion by Judge Graber, handed down a decision reversing all of the findings of Nevada Federal District Court Chief Judge Robert C. Jones in his 103-page decision in U.S. v. Hage (2007).  Judge Jones had found among other things that government officials had “entered into a literal, intentional conspiracy to deprive the Hages not only of their (grazing) permits but also of their vested water rights.”  The Court added, “This behavior shocks the conscience of the Court and provides a sufficient basis for a finding of irreparable harm…”

            During the 21-day trial in 2012, the lead Justice Department attorney assured Wayne Hage and the Estate’s attorney that the Ninth Circuit would almost certainly rule in favor of the BLM and USFS.  He said the United States government was not concerned if Judge Jones ruled against them because the DOJ could get any decision they wanted out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

            Consistent with the Justice Department’s prediction, the Ninth Circuit panel issued a scathing ruling reversing all of the trial court’s decisions, excoriating Judge Jones for supposed bias against the government Defendants. Wayne N. Hage and the Estate of E. Wayne Hage are appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

         The ruling from the Ninth Circuit runs contrary to 150 years of western water law and precedent as well as the laws governing the infrastructure across federally administered lands in the West.  It denies that there is right of access to vested livestock watering rights.   The Ninth Circuit decision, as handed down by the three-judge panel, is also in direct conflict with the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in the related case, Hage v. U.S., (1991), (between the same parties regarding the same property).  There the Court recognized access as an essential component of a water right.  If a right to access to a vested water right can be subject to a government bureaucrats will, either in its use or its maintenance, then you have no water right.  A person’s ownership of water becomes a mirage.  State law no longer controls the time, place, or manner of use of water.  A federal agency, and more particularly a federal bureaucrat, would now control the access to that water.

         In addition to a conflict between rulings in two different federal courts, due to the appellate panel’s brazen violations of the appellate rules of procedure regarding findings of fact and other procedural errors, analysts believe there is an increased likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling.   (Analysis of U.S. v. Hage and Court Decisions are available upon request.)

         In order for the Ninth Circuit to overturn the findings of the trial court in U.S. v. Hage, they had no option but to assert Judge Jones had bias against the government Defendants.  Under the rules of appellate procedure the Ninth Circuit was bound by Judge Jones’ findings of fact, unless the justices went to the extraordinary measure of finding the judge had bias and had abused his discretion, which they did.  Interestingly, Judge Jones was not the only trier of fact to make such findings.  Chief Judge Loren Smith, from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C., after hearing similar testimony during two separate trials in the related case of Hage v. U.S. (1991), made virtually identical findings of fact.  Two well respected, experienced jurists, both Chief Judges of their respective courts, separated by the width of the country, separated by decades of hearings, having nothing in common but considering the conduct of the U.S. Forest Service and BLM employees against the Hage family, both reached virtually identical conclusions.

         Two generations of the Hage family, beginning during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, have spent nearly 40 years in courts defending their Constitutionally protected property interests in federally administered land and their right to be allowed to graze their livestock around their vested waters as Congress clearly sanctioned.   They have prevailed in three administrative appeals.  They have successfully litigated three substantial federal court cases at the trial level in two separate federal courts.  They have successfully defended their vested water rights against competing claims by the United States in a state water adjudication.  The courts in multiple published decisions have repeatedly recognized their vested water rights, easements, rights-of-ways, forage, and improvements on federally administered land.  Those rights stand on appeal in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

         It is only the Ninth Circuit three-judge panel, after a 45 minute hearing, which determined that they are better arbiters of the truth than the two judges from two separate federal courts who actually saw the evidence and heard witnesses testify over a combined period of 43 trial days.  The Ninth Circuit panel, in reaching their desired outcome in U.S. v. Hage has managed to significantly diminish western water law and the laws governing rights of ways for roads, ditches and canals across federally administered lands, leaving the Hages no choice but to seek relief at the U.S. Supreme Court. (Analysis of U.S. v. Hage and Court Decisions are available upon request.)

# # # # #

For those who support the Hages and their efforts to protect western water rights and ranching, donations to help fund the Supreme Court appeal would be greatly appreciated.  Tax-deductible donations are being accepted and earmarked for U.S. v. Hage by:

Protect the Harvest

480 Southpoint Circle

Brownsburg, IN 46112

Phone:  (844) 360-8300; Email: info@protecttheharvest.com.

(Please identify as being for “U.S. v. Hage”)

Direct contributions can also be sent directly to:

Wayne N. Hage

P.O. Box 513

Tonopah, NV 89049

Analysis of U.S. v. Hage and Court Decisions available upon request.  Also, for those interested in filing Amicus or Friend of the Court Briefs, contact:

Ramona Hage Morrison:  (775) 722-2517; rhmorrison@sbcglobal.net

Mark Pollot, Esq.:  (208) 867-8389; ConResCtr@cableone.net

For a Summary of Hage saga:

FOX NEWS SPECIAL, “Enemies of the State”


“Enemies of the State” (shorter version)


Range Magazine Article and Winner of the “Freedom of the Press Award”

Click on article in red titled, “Eye of the Storm”


Ramona Morrison



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U.S. Water: Circuit Court rules it has jurisdiction on WOTUS

Agriculture, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

Western Livestock Journal

Feb 26, 2016

—Stay against implementation of the rule to remain in effect

When it comes to court cases and legal maneuvering, things move slowly and big milestones can look like pebbles on the outside. When it comes to the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule—called the Clean Water Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—every pebble along the court road has the potential to change the course of this massive case, however.

Last Monday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the massive combined case against the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) over their WOTUS rule, which was finalized in May 2015 and went into effect in late July of the same year. Following implementation, dozens of states and industry groups filed lawsuits against the EPA and the Corps. These suits were consolidated and were examined by the Sixth Circuit Court, but before the judges could examine the case on its merits, they had to first handle the question of if the circuit courts, as opposed to the district courts, were the legally appropriate venue.

“The [Clean Water Act] provides that certain specified actions of the EPA administrator are reviewable directly in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Because of uncertainty about whether the agencies’ adoption of the Clean Water Rule is among these specified actions, parties challenging the rule have filed petitions in both district courts and circuit courts across the country,” described the court opinion document by Judge David McKeague.

The three judges came to a 2-1 conclusion regarding the question of jurisdiction. McKeague and Judge Richard Griffin concluded that the case against WOTUS is most appropriately heard by the circuit courts rather than the district courts. Judge Damon Keith held the dissenting opinion. For more detail on the judges’ opinions, see the “Decisions” section on page 9.

What this means

This conclusion has a number of impacts, some of them convoluted and not all of them agreed upon by various sources. First and foremost, it means the Sixth Circuit Court may now proceed to hearing the consolidated WOTUS case on its merits; i.e., to determine if the EPA was out of line in creating and implementing WOTUS.

Attorney Karen Budd- Falen of Budd-Falen Law Offices told WLJ that the Sixth Circuit Court will hear the case.

“We are absolutely happy to keep this decision in the Sixth Circuit,” she added. “I don’t know if I’d use the words ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal,’ but they’re certainly going to be much more open to arguments about excess government jurisdiction than a lot of the other circuits.”

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear challenges to the WOTUS rule is a positive development for Alabama and the other states seeking to overturn the overly broad EPA rule,” said Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in his office’s reaction. Alabama was one of numerous states that brought suit against the EPA over WOTUS.

Damien Schiff, a principal attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, opined following the jurisdictional ruling that “the case probably won’t advance to the merits any time soon if the petitioners seek en banc review of the today’s jurisdictional ruling.”

Exactly how far-reaching the jurisdictional decision is seems to be unsettled, however. While other sources seemed to imply the jurisdictional question was answered, Peggy Kirk Hall— Associate Professor of Agricultural and Resource Law at Ohio State University— outlined a more limited reach in her analysis of the decision.

“The court’s decision on jurisdiction applies only to the states within the Sixth Circuit—Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. Given the range of reasoning in the Sixth Circuit’s decision, other federal courts could reach differing decisions on the question of which court has jurisdiction over the cases. If so, we can expect a request for the United States Supreme Court to review the jurisdictional issue.”

A response by the office of the South Dakota Attorney General also pointed out that this jurisdictional ruling will not halt ongoing litigation in the district courts. Schiff pointed out the same.

When asked about the possibility of the case going to the Supreme Court, Budd-Falen said it is a potential reality. Specifically speaking about the case against WOTUS, she explained that—regardless of which direction the case might go—it could be appealed to the Supreme Court. The problem is that the Supreme Court only chooses to hear a small minority of the cases put before it. Should the Sixth Circuit Court rule against the EPA, however, she thought it more likely that the Supreme Court would take up such an appeal.

“Not necessarily because the court rules in favor of the government, it’s just that those cases are usually seen as higher profile or more important cases.”

She also predicted the outcome of this year’s election could have a big impact on what happens after the Sixth Circuit Court rules on the merits of the WOTUS case.



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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Siskiyou Co: Irrigation district participates in groundwater recharge program

Agriculture - California, Scott River & Valley, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: Farmers have known for 100 years that utilizing irrigation ditches in the off-season helps recharge the groundwater table. Greenies do not like this type of program, because their goal is to destroy the environment. — Editor Liz Bowen


By Damon Arthur of the Redding Record Searchlight

A Siskiyou County irrigation district is the first water agency in the state to take part in a new groundwater recharge program.

Under the program, the Scott Valley Irrigation District can divert 5,400 acre-feet of water from the Scott River during the rainy season when the river is running high. The district can divert water from the river until March 31.

The district uses the water to flood select areas in the valley, where it can then percolate into the ground and recharge the amount of water stored underground.

Some sections of the Scott River dry up during the summer and fall. State and local officials hope raising the water table in the valley will mean the river will continue to flow rather than dry up during the summer.

More water in the river should benefit chinook and coho salmon that spawn in the river, according to the California Water Board.

“We have been talking about doing this kind of thing for a long time,” said Jim Morris, a board member for the district.



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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Wolf attacks calf in Klamath – KBC News update 2-16-16

Klamath Basin Crisis.org, Klamath River & Dams, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality, Wolves

Find these article links on the Klamath Basin Crisis front page —


KBC News

Calf attacked by wolf in Swan Lake Valley, OR-33 the culprit, still on the move, H&N posted 2/25/16. “He is the fifth radio-collared wolf to make its way to Klamath County.”

Irrigation District Dissent, H&N posted to KBC 2/25/16. “…the board voted 3-1 to accept KID Manager Mark Stuntebeck’s resignation and to reinstate office manager Rachelle Gates immediately. Stuntebeck and Gates were both placed on administrative leave following a KID executive session Feb. 10. Nearly 100 people and two Oregon State Police officers were present at the standing-room only meeting.”

Oregon Senate Passes Minimum Wage Hike Costing Oregon Businesses $1.2 Billion, posted to KBC 2/25/16.

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Water board raises water reporting requirements

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, CA & OR, California water, Ranch life, Threats to agriculture, Water rights, Water, Resources & Quality

PNP comment: This is bad news for water rights. — Editor Liz Bowen

Tim Hearden

Capital Press

California’s State Water Resources Control Board has increased reporting requirements for water right holders, putting aside requests from the California Cattlemen’s Association and others for relief for some producers in remote areas.

SACRAMENTO — Citing an emergency because of the drought, the state’s water board has ramped up reporting requirements for California’s roughly 12,000 landowners and users who have rights to divert water from nearby streams.

The regulations require annual reporting of water diversions rather than reporting once every three years, as previous law required of senior right holders. Those who divert more than 10 acre-feet of water per year must also measure their diversions.

The new rules adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board cover all surface water diversions, including those under pre-1914 and riparian water rights. State officials say the aim of the new rules is to provide more accurate and timely information on water use in California.

“Knowing when, where and how much water is being used is essential to managing the system fairly for all,” board chairwoman Felicia Marcus said in prepared remarks. “We’ve historically not had a complete picture, and these past two years have made it even more essential to take this common-sense move.”

The regulations provide for phasing in requirements for installing measurement devices and a tiered approach to accuracy and recording frequency standards, all based on the size of the diversion, a board news release explained.

For instance, large diverters with a claimed right to take 1,000 acre-feet of water or more per year must have a measuring device in place by Jan. 1, 2017, while those with rights for 100 acre-feet or more have until July 1, 2017, to install the devices. Those with rights to divert 10 acre-feet must comply by Jan. 1, 2018.

The California Cattlemen’s Association had sought relief for some ranchers in remote areas and requested that watermaster reports be deemed to fulfill the monitoring and reporting requirements.

However, the board decided that landowners served by a watermaster must nonetheless meet reporting and measuring requirements individually.

The board did away with an exemption for landowners who deemed previous measuring requirements “not locally cost-effective” — which about 70 percent of diverters claimed, according to state officials. Failure to comply with the new regulations could bring fines of up to $500 per day, according to the board.

The emergency regulations — which will take effect immediately — were required by Senate Bill 88, which was passed as trailer language in the 2015-16 state budget. The bill, authored by the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, passed in June on mostly party-line votes — 52-28 in the Assembly and 24-14 in the Senate.

The rules were adopted Jan. 19 after minor revisions were made following a Dec. 17 workshop with affected parties, including representatives from the CCA.

The rules come as state water officials have said stop-diversion orders for water right holders could be more targeted to specific watersheds this year because regulators have learned so much about water needs in the past two years.

The board has yet to send out letters warning right holders of potential shutoffs — a move that had been done by this point last year — because recent storms have raised hopes that large-scale curtailment orders won’t be necessary.



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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What’s Going on In Oregon – Militia Take Over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge In Protest to Hammond Family Persecution

Agriculture, Bundy Battle - Nevada, Bureau of Land Management, cattle, Constitution, CORRUPTION, Federal gov & land grabs, FIRES, Lawsuits, Liberty, OCCUPY whatever, Oregon and Water, Oregon governments, Over-regulations, Police State or SWAT teams, PRAYER, Property rights, PROTESTS, Ranch life, Threats to agriculture, Water rights

PNP comment: This article on “The Conservative Tree House.com” blog provides the truthful time-line in the Hammond verses BLM situation and the federal agency’s egregious actions. It is plain to see that the feds have coveted the Hammond ranch land and persecuted the family for decades hoping to obtain the property. The situation has now been escalated by the Nevada Bundy ranch family, Oath Keepers and militia (typically U.S. retired military) in creating an extremely difficult situation. Federal courts will not be kind. They have proven that with the terrible “terror” accusation and verdict of 5 years in prison for Dwight and Steven Hammond. Please read this article as it will provide you with the nuances needed to understand these sad and frustrating events. Meanwhile, please PRAY there will be a peaceful solution. — Editor Liz Bowen




Full Story on What’s Going on In Oregon – Militia Take Over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge In Protest to Hammond Family Persecution…

Grab a coffee, because this is soup-to-nuts.

Many people will awaken today to the news of approximately 100 to 150 armed militia taking control of a closed Wildlife Park Headquarters, and not know the full back-story – so here it is:

burns 4burns 5

The short summary is:  in an effort to draw attention to a ridiculous arrest of a father and son pair of Oregon Ranchers (“Dwight Lincoln Hammond, Jr., 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46,) who are scheduled to begin five year prison sentences (turning themselves in tomorrow January 4th 2016), three brothers from the Cliven Bundy family and approximately 100/150 (and growing) heavily armed militia (former U.S. service members) have taken control of Malheur Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in the wildlife reserve.  They are prepared to stay there indefinitely.

Here’s the long version: including history, details, links video(s) and explanations:

Hammond Family

Hammond Family

HISTORY: (aa) The Harney Basin (were the Hammond ranch is established) was settled in the 1870’s. The valley was settled by multiple ranchers and was known to have run over 300,000 head of cattle. These ranchers developed a state of the art irrigated system to water the meadows, and it soon became a favorite stopping place for migrating birds on their annual trek north.

(ab) In 1908 President Theodor Roosevelt, in a political scheme, create an “Indian reservation” around the Malheur, Mud & Harney Lakes and declared it “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds”. Later this “Indian reservation” (without Indians) became the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

(a) In 1964 the Hammonds purchased their ranch in the Harney Basin. The purchase included approximately 6000 acres of private property, 4 grazing rights on public land, a small ranch house and 3 water rights. The ranch is around 53 miles South of Burns, Oregon.

(a1) By the 1970’s nearly all the ranches adjacent to the Blitzen Valley were purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and added to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge covers over 187,000 acres and stretches over 45 miles long and 37 miles wide. The expansion of the refuge grew and surrounds to the Hammond’s ranch. Being approached many times by the FWS, the Hammonds refused to sell. Other ranchers also choose not to sell.

(a2) During the 1970’s the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), took a different approach to get the ranchers to sell. Ranchers were told that, “grazing was detrimental to wildlife and must be reduced”. 32 out of 53 permits were revoked and many ranchers were forced to leave. Grazing fees were raised significantly for those who were allowed to remain. Refuge personnel took over the irrigation system claiming it as their own.

(a3) By 1980 a conflict was well on its way over water allocations on the adjacent privately owned Silvies Plain. The FWS wanted to acquire the ranch lands on the Silvies Plain to add to their already vast holdings. Refuge personnel intentional diverted the water to bypassing the vast meadowlands, directing the water into the rising Malheur Lakes. Within a few short years the surface area of the lakes doubled. Thirty-one ranches on the Silvies plains were flooded. Homes, corrals, barns and graze-land were washed a way and destroyed. The ranchers that once fought to keep the FWS from taking their land, now broke and destroyed, begged the FWS to acquire their useless ranches. In 1989 the waters began to recede and now the once thriving privately owned Silvies pains are a proud part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge claimed by the FWS.

(a4) By the 1990’s the Hammonds were one of the very few ranchers that still owned private property adjacent to the refuge. Susie Hammond in an effort to make sense of what was going on began compiling fact about the refuge. In a hidden public record she found a study that was done by the FWS in 1975. The study showed that the “no use” policies of the FWS on the refuge were causing the wildlife to leave the refuge and move to private property. The study showed that the private property adjacent to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge produced 4 times more ducks and geese than the refuge did. It also showed that the migrating birds were 13 times more likely to land on private property than on the refuge. When Susie brought this to the attention of the FWS and refuge personnel, her and her family became the subjects of a long train of abuses and corruptions.

(b) In the early 1990’s the Hammonds filed on a livestock water source and obtained a deed for the water right from the State of Oregon. When the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) found out that the Hammonds obtained new water rights near the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge, they were agitated and became belligerent and vindictive towards the Hammonds. The US Fish and Wildlife Service challenged the Hammonds right to the water in an Oregon State Circuit Court. The court found that the Hammonds legally obtained rights to the water in accordance to State law and therefore the use of the water belongs to the Hammonds.*

(c) In August 1994 the BLM & FWS illegally began building a fence around the Hammonds water source. Owning the water rights and knowing that their cattle relied on that water source daily the Hammonds tried to stop the building of the fence. The BLM & FWS called the Harney County Sheriff department and had Dwight Hammond (Father) arrested and charged with “disturbing and interfering with” federal officials or federal contractors (two counts, each a felony). He spent one night in the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, and a second night behind bars in Portland before he was hauled before a federal magistrate and released without bail. A hearing on the charges was postponed and the federal judge never set another date.

(d) The FWS also began restricting access to upper pieces of the Hammond’s private property. In order to get to the upper part of the Hammond’s ranch they had to go on a road that went through the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge. The FWS began barricading the road and threatening the Hammonds if they drove through it. The Hammonds removed the barricades and gates and continued to use their right of access. The road was proven later to be owned by the County of Harney. This further enraged the BLM & FWS.

(e) Shortly after the road & water disputes, the BLM & FWS arbitrarily revoked the Hammond’s upper grazing permit without any given cause, court proceeding or court ruling. As a traditional “fence out state” Oregon requires no obligation on the part of an owner to keep his or her livestock within a fence or to maintain control over the movement of the livestock. The Hammonds intended to still use their private property for grazing. However, they were informed that a federal judge ruled, in a federal court, that the federal government did not have to observe the Oregon fence out law. “Those laws are for the people, not for them”.

(f) The Hammonds were forced to either build and maintain miles of fences or be restricted from the use of their private property. Cutting their ranch in almost half, they could not afford to fence the land, so the cattle were removed.

(g) The Hammonds experienced many years of financial hardship due to the ranch being diminished. The Hammonds had to sale their ranch and home in order to purchase another property that had enough grass to feed their cattle. This property included two grazing rights on public land. Those were also arbitrarily revoked later.

(h) The owner of the Hammond’s original ranch passed away from a heart attack and the Hammonds made a trade for the ranch back.

(i) In the early fall of 2001, Steven Hammond (Son) called the fire department, informing them that he was going to be performing a routine prescribed burn on their ranch. Later that day he started a prescribed fire on their private property. The fire went onto public land and burned 127 acres of grass. The Hammonds put the fire out themselves. There was no communication about the burn from the federal government to the Hammonds at that time. Prescribed fires are a common method that Native Americans and ranchers have used in the area to increase the health & productivity of the land for many centuries.

(j) In 2006 a massive lightning storm started multiple fires that joined together inflaming the countryside. To prevent the fire from destroying their winter range and possibly their home, Steven Hammond (Son) started a backfire on their private property. The backfire was successful in putting out the lightning fires that had covered thousands of acres within a short period of time. The backfire saved much of the range and vegetation needed to feed the cattle through the winter. Steven’s mother, Susan Hammond said: “The backfire worked perfectly, it put out the fire, saved the range and possibly our home”.

(j1) The next day federal agents went to the Harney County Sheriff’s office and filled a police report making accusation against Dwight and Steven Hammond for starting the backfire. A few days after the backfire a Range-Con from the Burns District BLM office asked Steven if he would meet him in town (Frenchglen) for coffee. Steven accepted. When leaving he was arrested by the Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup and BLM Ranger Orr. Sheriff Glerup then ordered him to go to the ranch and bring back his father. Both Dwight and Steven were booked and on multiple Oregon State charges. The Harney County District Attorney reviewed the accusation, evidence and charges, and determined that the accusations against Dwight & Steven Hammond did not warrant prosecution and dropped all the charges.

(k) In 2011, 5 years after the police report was taken, the U.S. Attorney Office accused Dwight and Steven Hammond of completely different charges, they accused them of being “Terrorist” under the Federal Antiterrorism Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. This act carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of death. Dwight & Steven’s mug shots were all over the news the next week posing them as “Arsonists”. Susan Hammond (Wife & Mother) said: “I would walk down the street or go in a store, people I had known for years would take extreme measures to avoid me”.

(l) Shortly after the sentencing, Capital Press ran a story about the Hammonds. A person who identified as Greg Allum posted three comments on the article, calling the ranchers “clowns” who endangered firefighters and other people in the area while burning valuable rangeland. Greg Allum, a retired BLM heavy equipment operator, soon called Capital Press to complain that he had not made those comments and request that they be taken down from the website. Capital Press removed the comments. A search of the Internet Protocol address associated with the comments revealed it is owned by the BLM’s office in Denver, Colorado. Allum said, he is friends with the Hammonds and was alerted to the comments by neighbors who knew he wouldn’t have written them. “I feel bad for them. They lost a lot and they’re going to lose more,” Allum said of the ranchers. “They’re not terrorists. There’s this hatred in the BLM for them, and I don’t get it,” The retired BLM employee said. Jody Weil, deputy state director for communications at BLM’s Oregon office, indicated to reporters that if one of their agents falsified the comments, they would keep it private and not inform the public.

(m) In September 2006, Dwight & Susan Hammond’s home was raided. The agents informed the Hammonds that they were looking for evidence that would connect them to the fires. The Hammonds later found out that a boot print and a tire tracks were found near one of the many fires. No matching boots or tires were found in the Hammonds home or on their property. Susan Hammond (Wife) later said; ” I have never felt so violated in my life. We are ranchers not criminals”. Steven Hammond openly maintains his testimony that he started the backfire to save the winter grass from being destroyed and that the backfire ended up working so well it put out the fire entirely altogether.

(n) During the trial proceedings, Federal Court Judge Michael Hogan did not allow time for certain testimonies and evidence into the trail that would exonerate the Hammonds. Federal prosecuting attorney, Frank Papagni, was given full access for 6 days. He had ample time to use any evidence or testimony that strengthened the demonization of the Hammonds. The Hammonds attorney was only allowed 1 day. Much of the facts about the fires, land and why the Hammonds acted the way they did was not allowed into the proceedings and was not heard by the jury. For example, Judge Hogan did not allow time for the jury to hear or review certified scientific findings that the fires improved the health and productivity of the land. Or, that the Hammonds had been subject to vindictive behavior by multiple federal agencies for years.


Full Story on What’s Going on In Oregon – Militia Take Over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge In Protest to Hammond Family Persecution…

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