Example of Out-Of-Control Government Impacting Animal Welfare
Seven days ago I returned home from attending the NASCAR race in Fontana CA. I was invited by the Furniture Row Racing team to meet with their owner, driver and team to discuss the future plans of the Farm American car and an interactive, educational, traveling van that will be at all of the NASCAR races as well as stop at various locations during off weeks, educating the public about American Agriculture and promoting local farmers and ranchers and their food at each of the venues. I will talk about this more in another post.
Upon returning home, late in the afternoon, the ranch looked to be in good shape. The cattle and horses were all in their respective pastures and looked to be content. The following morning I took a quick drive on the ATV and checked all the critters out before heading to a meeting in Yreka. They looked healthy and happy. I returned that night well after dark for chores. When I awoke on Wednesday morning and glanced out on the fields, I noticed that there was only one field with cows in it, there should have been three, and we were short a few to boot. I also noticed that our stud horse was not in his pasture, but up the lane next to the mares and foals. This was not a good start to the day.
I quickly hopped on the ATV and proceeded down the lane. After returning the stud to his field I proceeded to try and locate the missing cows and calves. Following their trail, through three downed fences, I found most of them in the river bed and realized the irrigation ditch, which they water from, was completely dry. I immediately called my neighbor, who shares the ditch with us to find out if he had a plug in the ditch. The reply was a negative and further, that upon checking the ditch the morning before, it had been flowing full. Something did not seem to be adding up.
After getting the majority of the pairs back into the bottom field, I did a quick splice on the fence to hold them for a bit, returned to the barn and jumped in the truck to go check the ditch at the point of diversion. We have had issue with several pairs of beavers, in the past, and was expecting to see a dam across our ditch. However, when I reached the fish screen, to prevent fish from entering the ditch, I noticed that the screens and brushes had been removed, the flow regulating headgate had been closed and the bypass had been opened.
I proceeded to the point of diversion and discovered that the headgate there had also been closed. I promptly called our watermaster, an employee of the California Department of Water Resources, who acts under the order of the court and enforces our adjudicated water rights. He informed me that neither he nor the other watermaster, had even been in the area for the past week. A call to the California Department of Fish and Game screen shop revealed that they had removed the screens on Tuesday, around noon, without notifying either my neighbor or myself, but “had not touched the headgates.” However, CDFG claimed the ditch was “dry” and that is why they had pulled the screens. Problem, my neighbor had seen the ditch running full Tuesday morning around 9 am and it takes nearly 8 hours for the ditch to “go dry.”
This is the fourth time in five years that the CDFG has pulled the screens and opened the bypass without landowner contact. The previous three times they had also closed the diversion headgate. Something smells real fishy, and it is not fish!
1. Our diversion is an adjudicated water right, with irrigation rights from April 15th through October 15th and livestock watering rights year round.
2. Legally, the only two entities that may adjust the diversion headgate are the landowner and the watermaster, from CDWR.
3. Legally, the CDFG may not trespass, unless in pursuit of a violator, and it may only be a Game Warden.
4. Legally, the CDFG may not touch a privately owned headgate on a diversion.
5. By contract, CDFG must inform the landowner before visiting, repairing, or adjusting any fish screen.
Due to the suspected actions of the CDFG, cattle and horses were left without water for nearly 48 hrs, since it took 18 for the water to reach them again after turning it back on. I had three breeding groups separated that were mixed again on their search for water. I had a bull get injured, four fences destroyed and stud horse cut up. All of this could have been avoided if 1) CDFG had not shut off the diversion; and 2) if CDFG had contacted the landowners about removing the screens, if indeed the ditch had been dry, as they claim.
This is yet another attempt by a government agency to trample private property rights and display their utter disregard for their actions. Government has become too big and too bold. It must stop and must change.