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Browsing the blog archives for May, 2015.

Another attack on the Bill of Rights

LAWS or law, Liberty

PNP comment: Thanks to our good friend in Idaho, who sent this to us. Pretty sad state of affairs and loss of liberty. The hypocrisy is striking. — Editor Liz Bowen


Idaho city’s ordinance tells pastors to marry gays or go to jail

The Washington Times – Monday, October 20, 2014

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, city officials have laid down the law to Christian pastors within their community, telling them bluntly via an ordinance that if they refuse to marry homosexuals, they will face jail time and fines.

The dictate comes on the heels of a legal battle with Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post wedding chapel in the city, but who oppose gay marriage, The Daily Caller reported.

A federal judge recently ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, while the city of Coeur d’Alene has an ordinance that prevents discrimination based on sexual preference.

The Supreme Court’s recent refusal to take on gay rights’ appeals from five states has opened the doors for same-sex marriages to go forth.

The Knapps were just asked by a gay couple to perform their wedding ceremony, The Daily Caller reported.

“On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined,” The Daily Signal reported. “The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and a $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a suit in federal court to stop the city from enforcing the fine and jail sentence, saying in a statement from senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco that the government has overstepped its bounds, The Daily Caller reported.

“Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here — and it’s happened this quickly,” Mr. Tedersco said, The Daily Caller reported.

But the city sees it differently. As far back as May, city officials were insisting that their ordinance is indeed in line with law.

“If you turn away a gay couple, refuse to provide services for them, then in theory you violated our code, and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation,” said Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Warren Wilson, to KXLY months ago.

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC.


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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HUNDREDS of Oregon Gun Rights Advocates Rally Against New Laws – Will Not Comply

2nd Amendment rights

Posted by Gateway Guest Blogger on Saturday, May 30, 2015, 4:33 PM

Guest post by Michael Strickland

DSC00037 copy

Approximately 1000 gun rights supporters rallied in Salem, Oregon, against the new “universal background check” law, SB 941. The bill was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown earlier in May.

Speakers included state legislators Mike Nearman, Bill Post, and Senator Kim Thatcher, along with Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation, Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Starrett, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, Kit Lange and Anthony Bosworth of the Washington LFA and III%ers, and Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars, who broke the Fast & Furious Case.

Ralliers will refuse to comply with the new law and will continue to buy, sell, trade, and exchange firearms without going through the background check system. Opponents of the bill say that it infringes on the 2nd Amendment and law enforcement professionals, such as Palmer and many other county Sheriffs, say that it is unenforceable, as no one would know if the law was being broken if 2 people conduct a firearms transfer in their garage or in a parking lot.


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“New EPA rule muddies the water for Oregon farmers, ranchers, and property owners”

Clean Water ACT - EPA, CORRUPTION, Federal gov & land grabs

PNP comment: We so agree with Congressman Walden. — Editor Liz Bowen

by Oregon U.S. Rep. Greg Walden

All across Oregon and the rural West, farmers, ranchers, and other property owners have been wondering: what will Washington, D.C. try to unnecessarily regulate next? Where will a federal agency again attempt to curtail private property rights? How will this uncertainty affect already struggling rural economies?

This week we got that answer when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized their rule to massively and unilaterally expand federal jurisdiction over water and private property. With the stroke of a pen, the administration has pushed aside the “navigable waters” limitations of the Clean Water Act, leaving in its wake vague definitions that potentially open up intermittent streams, vernal pools, irrigation ditches, or ponds to even more federal regulations.

The EPA first proposed this rule under the guise of “clarifying” the scope of the Clean Water Act. But I’ve heard throughout Oregon that the vague language in their proposal actually creates more uncertainty, not less. More red tape, not less. For farmers, ranchers, Oregonians, and others that utilize our water resources, it is a huge threat.

Ranchers are wondering when the EPA will come after their stock ponds. Wheat growers worry about an intermittent stream adjacent to a field. Fruit and vegetable growers are concerned about their irrigation ditches. As one eastern Oregon rancher told me, the rule is “an overreach by the federal government that threatens to eliminate conservation practices currently implemented by farmers and ranchers across Oregon.”
I have long opposed expansion of this authority, whether through legislation or administrative rulemaking. This regulatory overreach by the EPA blatantly ignores Congress’ repeated rejection of similar legislative efforts to expand jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act in the past. Of course, we shouldn’t be that surprised. The EPA has tried this before, and they have twice been rebuked by the Supreme Court.

Even the Small Business Administration has said that the proposed rule would have “direct, significant effects” on small businesses, and recommended that the EPA withdraw their rule. But the agency went full steam ahead this week.

The economies of rural Oregon and other communities around the country face enough obstacles already. Broken federal land policies and unnecessary red tape have strangled communities, often leaving only agriculture to grow jobs and combat unemployment rates in the double digits. We don’t need agencies in Washington D.C. erecting more hurdles and creating more uncertainty as our farmers and ranchers work to feed the world and create jobs in rural communities.
That’s why I worked hard to pass a bill in the House to require the EPA to withdraw the rule. The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732) passed the House on a bipartisan vote in May. 24 House Democrats (including my Oregon colleague Kurt Schrader) joined every Republican in supporting this common-sense measure.
As one Oregon farmer told me when a similar bill passed the House last year, “This attempt to control private lands using the Clean Water Act must be stopped. It is important that farms be able to focus on raising fresh, healthy, and necessary food and feed for this world without unnecessary regulations. Congress has taken an important step to help ensure farmers can continue to farm their land without federal permission and allows landowners to meaningfully improve water quality through existing state programs.”

The House has also passed legislation that would prohibit funding from being used on this rule (this is on top of our successful efforts to cut the EPA’s budget by 21%–$2.2 billion-over the past five years).

The Senate should take up and pass these bills right away and send the EPA back to the drawing board. Our farmers, ranchers and rural communities deserve better than federal agencies strangling them with more red tape. It’s time to ditch this rule.

Riley Bushue
Southern Oregon Office Director
Representative Greg Walden (OR-02)
14 N. Central Ave, Suite 112
Medford OR 97501



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Obama administration’s controversial water regulation raises alarm among some Alaskans

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs

Alaska Dispatch News

By Erica Martinson

WASHINGTON — Alaska lawmakers and a wide swath of industry groups cried “federal overreach” Wednesday when the Obama administration released its long-awaited and controversial “Waters of the United States” rule.

The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, issued the rule to clarify what waters are beholden to federal oversight — and permitting requirements — under the Clean Water Act.

“The rule will make it easier to identify protected waters” and is “consistent with the law and the latest peer-reviewed science,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Wednesday. She noted that the agency gathered more than a million public comments and took hundreds of meetings with interested parties over the last year.

Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 left the agencies to “operate under a lot of confusion” about what requires a permit, said Corps chief Jo-Ellen Darcy. The current state of things often requires a “long, expensive case-by-case process to determine whether the Clean Water Act applies,” even before the permit process begins, Darcy said. The result was a “lack of predictability for America’s taxpayers.”

“Our rule will make it clear which waters are covered and which are not,” Darcy said.

But others say the rule could have disastrous impacts on energy and agricultural industries, particularly in Alaska. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called it a “raw and tyrannical power grab.”

Alaska Rep. Don Young called the rule an “unprecedented expansion of federal jurisdiction over states and private property.”

“There’s a saying — a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. This administration’s rule-making is exactly one of those instances,” Young said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the rule will “threaten economic activities across the country — and nowhere is the impact more likely than Alaska,” which contains more than half the nation’s wetlands. That puts Alaska “directly in the sights of the federal bureaucrats back in Washington, D.C., who will now be able to make decisions from more than 4,000 miles away about how we develop almost any part of our state.”

And Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said the rule “impacts no state more than my own.” Having held multiple hearings on the rule in Washington and Alaska, he said, “it is clear that Americans from vastly different industries, ideologies and regions are clearly opposed to the scope of this rule and the process through which it was crafted.”

Courts have been unsure about how to apply the Supreme Court’s rulings on the scope of the law, resulting in case-by-case determinations across the U.S. for whether a water body has a “significant nexus” to an already protected waterway. The administration argues that the new rule will provide clarity and limit the need for all those costly case-by-case decisions.





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1787: This week in history the Constitutional Convention began


Deseret News

May 25, 2015

This week in history: The Constitutional Convention begins

On May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention officially got underway. The government of the time, the Articles of Confederation, proved powerless in the face of foreign threats, mounting debts… Read more »

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Rep. LaMalfa Statement on EPA’s Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach

Clean Water ACT - EPA, Doug LaMalfa Congressman CA, Federal gov & land grabs

May 27, 2015

Washington, DC – Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) today released the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to finalize its “Waters of the United States.” rule. The rule would expand the EPA’s authority to man-made waterways, creeks which carry water only during storms, broadly-defined riparian areas, and even wet depressions in fields.

“I am disappointed that the EPA ignored bipartisan opposition, over one million public comments, and recent Congressional action to move forward with the massive regulatory overreach known as its ‘Waters of the United States’ rule. Through this rule, the EPA is expanding its own jurisdiction into virtually every body of water in the nation, inserting itself into local land use decisions, limiting private property rights and increasing costs to farms across the nation.

“The rule’s impact will be felt most acutely here in Northern California, where our vast number of streams, ditches, rivers, and seasonal creeks would mean that nearly our entire region would be under EPA jurisdiction. Furthermore, the subjective nature of the rule means that the EPA decides when the rule applies and when it doesn’t. Congress never approved this rule, and no federal law authorizes the EPA’s action. The only prudent course of action is to ensure that federal funding is stripped from this proposal and the EPA be reminded that Congress writes our nation’s laws, not unelected bureaucrats.”

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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EPA unveils comprehensive water regs, critics decry ‘power grab’

Agriculture, Air, Climate & Weather, Clean Water ACT - EPA, Federal gov & land grabs

The Obama administration issued controversial new rules Wednesday aimed at protecting the nation’s drinking water but decried by congressional critics as a regulatory “power grab.”

The Environmental Protection Agency, in announcing the finalized Clean Water Rule along with the Army Corps of Engineers, said the changes mark a “historic step for the protection of clean water” and would help roughly 117 million Americans who get drinking water from streams not clearly protected before these regulations. The rule would clarify which smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands are covered by anti-pollution and development provisions of the Clean Water Act.

But the rules have run into deep opposition from farm groups and the Republican-led Congress. The House voted to block the regulations earlier this month, and a similar effort is underway in the Senate. Critics argue the rules could greatly expand the reach of federal regulators, making every stream, ditch and puddle on farmers’ and others’ private land subject to federal oversight.

“The administration’s decree to unilaterally expand federal authority is a raw and tyrannical power grab that will crush jobs,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a written statement following the rules release.

Boehner said more than 30 governors and government leaders rejected the EPA’s water rule. “These leaders know firsthand that the rule is being shoved down the throats of hardworking people with no input, and places landowners, small businesses, farmers and manufacturers on the road to a regulatory and economic hell.”

North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer said in a statement the rules “trample on the rights of private property owners as well as local and state governments” and vowed to work with colleagues to overturn it.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, however, said the rule will only affect waters that have a “direct and significant” connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected. The EPA said the rule focuses on streams, not ditches — limiting protection to ditches constructed out of streams or those that “function like streams and can carry pollution downstream.”

Two Supreme Court rulings had left the reach of the Clean Water Act uncertain. The EPA has said 60 percent of the nation’s streams and waterways are vulnerable, and these rules clarify which of those waters are protected. The regulations would only kick in if a business or landowner takes steps to pollute or destroy those waters.

McCarthy has acknowledged the proposed rules issued last year were confusing and said the final rules were written to be more clear. She said the regulations don’t create any new permitting requirements for agriculture and even adds some new exemptions for artificial lakes and ponds and water-filled depressions, among other features.

These efforts were “to make clear our goal is to stay out of agriculture’s way,” McCarthy said in a blog posted on the EPA website.

But after the rules were released, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said his panel will consider the Senate bill to force the EPA to withdraw and rewrite the rules this summer and “continue our work to halt EPA’s unprecedented land grab.”

Inhofe said the rule makes it “more important than ever for Congress to act.” Among other concerns, he said the final rule allows the EPA to regulate isolated waters — even ponds in farmers’ fields — by declaring them a “regional water treasure.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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As predicted: AB-498 Wildlife conservation: wildlife corridors.(2015-2016)

Dept. Fish & Game

PNP comment: Thank you to Debbie Bacigalupi for sending this and staying on top of the wolf problem. — Editor Liz Bowen

Here is the text of

AB-498 Wildlife conservation: wildlife corridors.(2015-2016)
Text Votes History Bill Analysis Today’s Law As Amended Compare Versions Status Comments To Author
Bill Start




Introduced by Assembly Member Levine

February 23, 2015

An act to amend Sections 1797.5, 1930, and 1930.5 of the Fish and Game Code, relating to fish and wildlife.


AB 498, as amended, Levine. Wildlife conservation: wildlife corridors.
Existing law requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to administer the Significant Natural Areas Program, and requires the department, among other things, to develop and maintain a spatial data system that identifies those areas in the state that are most essential for maintaining habitat connectivity, including wildlife corridors and habitat linkages. Existing law requires the department, contingent upon the provision of certain funding, to investigate, study, and identify those areas in the state that are most essential as wildlife corridors and habitat linkages and prioritize vegetative data development in those areas. Existing law requires the department to seek input from representatives of other state agencies, local government, federal agencies, nongovernmental conservation organizations, landowners, agriculture, recreation, scientific entities, and industry in determining essential wildlife corridors and habitat linkages.
This bill would declare that it is the policy of the state, with regard to a project proposed in an area identified as a wildlife corridor, to encourage the project proponent to consult with the department, and, state to encourage, wherever feasible and practicable, take voluntary steps to promote, protect, or restore protect the functioning of the wildlife corridor wildlife corridors through various means, as applicable.
Existing law provides for the establishment of conservation banks, defined as publicly or privately owned and operated sites that are to be conserved and managed for habitat protection purposes in accordance with an agreement with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Existing law provides for the issuance of credits by a conservation bank to, among other things, reduce adverse impacts to fish or wildlife resources from certain activities. Existing law also provides for the establishment of mitigation banks, as defined.
This bill would include within the authorized purposes of a conservation bank the maximization protection of habitat connectivity for fish and wildlife resources.
This bill would provide that a project applicant may receive advance mitigation credits for investing in a mitigation bank that protects habitat connectivity for affected fish and wildlife resources, and would further provide that the fact that a project applicant does not take voluntary steps to protect the functioning of a wildlife corridor prior to initiating the application process for the project shall not be grounds for denying a permit or requiring additional mitigation beyond what is otherwise required by law to mitigate project impacts.
Digest Key
Vote: MAJORITY Appropriation: NO Fiscal Committee: YES Local Program: NO
Bill Text

Section 1797.5 of the Fish and Game Code is amended to read:
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(a) “Bank” means a conservation bank, mitigation bank, or conservation and mitigation bank.
(b) “Bank enabling instrument” means a written agreement with the department regarding the establishment, use, operation, and maintenance of the bank.
(c) “Bank sponsor” means the person or entity responsible for establishing and operating a bank.
(d) “Conservation bank” means a publicly or privately owned and operated site that is to be conserved and managed in accordance with a written agreement with the department that includes provisions for the issuance of credits, on which important habitat, including habitat for threatened, endangered, or other special status species, exists, has been, or will be created to do any of the following:
(1) Compensate for take or other adverse impacts of activities authorized pursuant to Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3.
(2) Reduce adverse impacts to fish or wildlife resources from activities, authorized pursuant to Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 1600) of Division 2, to less than substantial.
(3) Mitigate significant effects on the environment pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code) and Guidelines for Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 15000) of Division 6 of Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations).
(4) Establish mitigation in advance of any impacts or effects.
(5) To the extent feasible and practicable, maximize protect habitat connectivity for the affected fish and wildlife resources.
(e) “Conservation easement” means a perpetual conservation easement, as defined by Section 815.1 of the Civil Code, covering the real property that comprises the bank site.
(f) “Mitigation bank” means either of the following:
(1) A bank site or mitigation bank site as defined by Section 1777.2.
(2) Any publicly or privately owned and operated site, other than those defined by Section 1777.2, on which wetlands exist, have been, or will be created, and that is to be conserved and managed in accordance with a written agreement with the department for any of the purposes described in paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, of subdivision (d).
(g) “Person” has the meaning set forth in subdivision (b) of Section 711.2.
(h) “Prospectus” means a written summary of the proposed bank containing a sufficient level of detail to support informed department review and comment.
SEC. 2.
Section 1930 of the Fish and Game Code is amended to read:
The Legislature finds and declares that:
(a) Areas containing diverse ecological and geological characteristics are vital to the continual health and well being of the state’s natural resources and of its citizens.
(b) Many habitats and ecosystems that constitute the state’s natural diversity are in danger of being lost.
(c) Connectivity between wildlife habitats is important to the long-term viability of the state’s biodiversity.
(d) Preserving, restoring, Preserving and connecting high-quality habitat for wildlife can create habitat strongholds.
(e) Increasingly fragmented habitats threaten the state’s wildlife species.
(f) There is an opportunity to provide incentive for private landowners to maintain and perpetuate significant local natural areas in their natural state.
(g) Efforts to preserve natural areas have been fragmented between federal, state, local, and private sectors.
(h) Analysis of the state’s habitat connectivity benefits from the consideration of all relevant data, including information from private and public landowners.
(i) The department’s existing mapping activities and products should be developed and sustained.
(j) The importance of wildlife corridors to assist in adapting to climate change has been recognized by such groups as the Western Governor’s Governors’ Association, which unanimously approved a policy to protect wildlife migration corridors and crucial wildlife habitat in 2007. Individual local, state, and federal agencies have also adopted policies aimed at protecting wildlife corridors and restoring habitat connectivity, in order to protect ecosystem health and biodiversity and to improve the resiliency of wildlife and their habitats to climate change. However, these efforts could be enhanced through establishment of a statewide policy to protect and restore important wildlife corridors and habitat linkages where feasible. feasible and practicable.
SEC. 3.
Section 1930.5 of the Fish and Game Code is amended to read:
(a) Contingent upon funding being provided by the Wildlife Conservation Board from moneys available pursuant to Section 75055 of the Public Resources Code, or from other appropriate bond funds, upon appropriation by the Legislature, the department shall investigate, study, and identify those areas in the state that are most essential as wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, as well as the impacts to those wildlife corridors from climate change, and shall prioritize vegetative data development in these areas.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that the Wildlife Conservation Board use various funds to work with the department to complete a statewide analysis of wildlife corridors and connectivity to support conservation planning and climate change adaptation activities.
(c) (1) It is the policy of the state to promote the voluntary protection of wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds in order to enhance the resiliency of wildlife and their habitats to climate change, protect biodiversity, and allow for the migration and movement of species by providing connectivity between habitat lands. In order to further these goals, it is the policy of the state, with regard to a project proposed in an area identified as a wildlife corridor, to encourage the project proponent to consult with the department, and, state to encourage, wherever feasible and practicable, take voluntary steps to promote, protect, or restore protect the functioning of the wildlife corridor corridors through various means, as applicable. Those
As applicable and to the extent feasible and practicable, those means may include, but are not necessarily limited to, acquisition to:
(A) Acquisition or protection of wildlife corridors as open space through conservation easements, installing easements.
(B) Installing of wildlife-friendly fencing, and provision fencing.
(C) Creation of mitigation and conservation banks that protect habitat connectivity for affected fish and wildlife resources.
(D) Provision of roadway undercrossings and undercrossings, oversized culverts and culverts, or bridges to allow for movement of wildlife between habitat areas, as applicable. areas.
(2) Consistent with Chapter 7.9 (commencing with Section 1797) of Division 2, a project applicant may receive advance mitigation credits for investing in a mitigation bank that, to the extent feasible and practicable, protects habitat connectivity for affected fish and wildlife resources. The fact that a project applicant does not take voluntary steps to protect the functioning of a wildlife corridor prior to initiating the application process for a project shall not be grounds for denying a permit or requiring additional mitigation beyond what would be required to mitigate project impacts under other applicable laws, including, but not limited to, the California Endangered Species Act (Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3) and the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
(d)It is further the intent of the Legislature that state agencies and other conservation planners be encouraged to access publicly available database tools developed by the department and other conservation partners to support and assist conservation planning and facilitate identification, mapping, and prioritization of wildlife corridors and other habitat connectivity linkages. Those tools shall include, but need not be limited to, the statewide California Essential Habitat Connectivity Project and other more fine-scale regional wildlife connectivity analyses, as those guidance tools are developed and refined and made publicly available through the department’s Internet Web site.
(d) The Legislature finds and declares that there are a number of existing programs, including, but not necessarily limited to, programs involving working landscapes, such as timberlands, agricultural lands, and rangelands, that are already working to achieve the policy described in subdivision (c).
(e) Subdivision (c) shall not be construed to create new regulatory requirements or modify the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code).
(f) For purposes of this chapter, the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Habitat stronghold” means high-quality habitat that supports wildlife in being more resilient to increasing pressures on species due to climate change and land development.
(2) “Wildlife corridor” means a habitat linkage that joins two or more areas of wildlife habitat, allowing for the movement of wildlife from one area to another.

Debbie Bacigalupi, MBA, CS, CMP
Independent Consultant, #756056

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Hispanic ranchers’ case against U.S. Forest Service over grazing rights heats up

Agriculture - California, Air, Climate & Weather, cattle

grazing new mexico.jpg

May 1, 2014: Cattle graze in a field outside Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico May 1, 2014. (Reuters)

As summer gets ready to start, a federal judge is weighing whether to let a discrimination case brought on by a group of Hispanic ranchers to limit grazing move forward.

The ranchers claim the U.S. Forest Service is trying to push them from land in northern New Mexico that has been worked by their families for centuries.

A decision by U.S. District Judge James Browning is expected by September. Last week, Browning heard arguments on a motion by the Forest Service to dismiss the case.

At stake, ranchers say, is a piece of Hispanic culture and the economic viability of several northern New Mexico communities that depend on access to surrounding lands for everything from grazing to firewood.

Simeon Herskovits, an attorney for the ranchers, argued that the Forest Service was using the motion to short-circuit a full-fledged discussion of the issues raised by the case. He also suggested that the agency failed to understand the intrinsic cultural connection the ranchers have to the land.

“There’s a very special relationship, history and heritage that exists in parts of northern New Mexico. This must be considered carefully,” he said.

The lawsuit centers on a 2010 decision to cut grazing by 18 percent on the Jarita Mesa and Alamosa grazing allotments, which are part of an area recognized by the federal government for special treatment aimed at benefiting land grant heirs.

The Forest Service has argued that management practices by the ranchers contributed to overuse of meadows in the two allotments and that fences were either poorly maintained or in disrepair.

The ranchers disputed those claims, pointing to what they called the agency’s failure to manage wild horses and elk grazing in the area. They said the decision to curb livestock grazing was retribution for them speaking out about Forest Service management practices.

Defense attorney Andrew Smith raised questions about whether some of the ranchers could sue the agency in the first place. He said some didn’t hold grazing permits and others didn’t file administrative appeals when the district ranger first issued her decision to limit grazing.

Smith also argued there was no evidence to show that limiting the business of one rancher would affect the community.

David Sanchez of the Northern New Mexico Stockmen’s Association said half of the grazing fees collected by the federal government come back to the county to fund schools and other projects.

Sanchez said the area is rural and traditional industries such as ranching and woodcutting are the only source of income for some families.

“What’s left for these people? If the government wants them all on food stamps, then take away their grazing permits,” he said. “The government is attacking poor people. It’s like David and Goliath.”

The ranchers’ lawsuit chronicles a history in which they say the property rights of Hispanics have been ignored and an institutional bias has been allowed to continue despite the Forest Service’s obligation to accommodate their dependency on the land.

Herskovits mentioned during Thursday’s hearing a 1972 policy that emerged following the raid of the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse in 1967 over unresolved land grant issues. That policy noted the relationship Hispanic residents of northern New Mexico had with the land and declared their culture a resource that must be recognized when setting agency objectives and policies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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The North Coast Regional Water Board met with growers on Friday

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

Photo by Adrian Baumann-TWN. Representatives from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board met with growers in Laytonville on May 8 to review the proposed new regulations.



Representatives from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board came to Mendocino County last Friday, May 8, to give a presentation on the new regulatory scheme that will attempt, for the first time, to enforce environmental regulations for the marijuana industry on the North Coast. About 50 people, about evenly split between greybeards and the younger generation of growers, attended the event which was held in the Laytonville Grange, and organized by Mendocino Chair of the Emerald Growers Association (EGA) Casey O’Neill and Mai Nguyen a Ukiah Valley grain farmer. Geologist Derek Magnuson and Environmental Scientist Connor McIntee represented the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Tom Wheeler of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), also presented.

The Water Board is empowered to enforce environmental rules under the federal Clean Water Act and the California Porter-Cologne Act, and the new regulatory scheme can be viewed as a new attempt to enforce existing environmental rules. Chief among the components of this new regulatory scheme is the marijuana cultivation waiver. The waiver process, which will soon become a requirement for cannabis cultivators on the North Coast, is a new effort by the Water Board to document and address environmental problems.

It establishes three tiers of marijuana farms based on size, the local environment, and how much of an environmental risk they pose. Entrance into the program will result in suggestions by the Water Board on how to correct environmental damages, and provide farmers a grace period allowing them to correct the violations before administering penalties.

During his portion of the meeting Wheeler noted the Water Board’s leadership on the issue, “I want to also thank the local water board, they’ve taken a leadership role where other people haven’t. In particular I think the counties need to step up more and water board is filling that role.”

But as the meeting progressed it became apparent that many of the questions asked by the attendees, and the concerns expressed by the Water Board representatives, actually had more to do with water rights than with pollution. That is, with low streamflows as a result of diversions, and whether people had a legal right to irrigate using their streams. Nguyen noted that she had attempted to contact the Division of Water Rights (DWR) at the state board and had received no response. Due to the absence of a representative from the DWR many questions went unanswered, and a general level of frustration could be observed from all parties.



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