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Letter of Thanks to Senater La Malfa & Assemblyman Nielsen, 1600 & ITP Permit

Honorable Senator Doug La Malfa

Honorable Assemblyman Jim Nielsen

February 17, 2011

I would like to personally thank both of you for your involvement in the matter of the California Department of Fish and Game Incidental Take Permit and the citizens of the Scott and Shasta Valley.

For more than 30 years the farmers and ranchers of the two valleys have been voluntarily improving water efficiency, installing fish screens, replacing push up dams with permanent, fish friendly structures and incorporating bypass flows into their diversion structure designs.  All of these actions were done proactively to address potential impacts to salmonids. In addition, landowners along the two rivers have installed fencing to better manage grazing in riparian areas and have voluntarily stabilized banks and planted native vegetation to improve the habitat.

In the 80’s, the Department wanted us to put in fish screens they designed and we did. Then they wanted us to replace our push up dams with permanent rock weirs and we did. They then requested a bypass flow at the point of diversion and we obliged. Then they wanted assurance we were diverting our adjudicated water right and we are water mastered. Now they want me to pay $200 a year for a 1600 permit and $10,000 to $15,000 for a 158 page permit that says I am diverting with approved mitigations and the Department can take my water when they want to? I say hell no!

The recent re-interpretation of the Fish and Game code 1600 is merely another attempt by the State to assume more control over small business, ignore private property rights and follow the beck and call of a few elitist activist groups whose desire is to see our two valleys depopulated and returned to a “natural” state. If the Department is successful in implementing the 158 page permit in combination with requiring a 1600 permit simply to exercise a water right, the repercussions throughout the state will have a devastating impact.

Farmers and ranchers are being slapped in the face with the proposed fees being assessed with these two permits and being asked to give up their property rights; not to mention the fact that we are being pressured and threatened with even more astronomical fines and jail time if we do not comply. If farmers are forced to give up their water rights, they do not grow food, and the value of their property is lost. If implemented throughout the state, a food shortage crisis will bring this state to its knees, especially when coupled with the taking of water from the farmers in the San Joaquin. Oh, but I forgot, the state is broke and needs money to keep agency personnel employed so that must make it acceptable.  

To think, this all started nearly 30 years ago with the listing of the Spotted Owl. The timber industry was shutdown, unemployment jumped, communities died, schools began to deteriorate due to the lack of a tax base, forests have become too dense, tree diseases are rampant, catastrophic wildfires have ensued, tax dollars are wasted in efforts to fight fires, forest wildlife no longer have quality habitat, evapotranspiration has climbed, surface flows have decreased due to increased evapotranspiration increased and tree density and so now, it is time to eliminate the farms and ranches, surely that will fix the problem.

It is time to stop this short-sighted nonsense and approach the management of our natural resources with common sense. Modern forestry, farming and ranching practices can and will return our county to one that is environmentally healthy and economically viable, provided the onerous regulations, misguided permits are eliminated. Further, the puppet strings that are controlling the Department, held by the elitist environmental groups, must be cut.

For decades, the agricultural community has had a great working relationship with the Fish and Game scientists, and wardens. Allow that productive and positive relationship to rekindle. Allow farmers, foresters and ranchers to do what they do best enhance habitat, provide for wildlife and grow healthy fish.  We cannot continue to allow the internal bureaucracy of the Department to continue on its current path. The madness must stop.

I thank you once again for taking a personal interest in our plight and investing your time in helping us protect our private property, our rights and our freedom; not just for our county, but the entire state. We are fortunate to have both of you as our elected representatives.

Sincerely,

Jeff Fowle

CC Honorable Congressman Wally Herger

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