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Taxes, Wildfires and Missed Opportunity

Smoke rolling in over the Trinity Alps.

Most folks have noticed, it is fire season in California and most of the western United States. What many may not know is that the ‘brilliant’ state of California has also begun to send out ‘fire suppression’ bills to the rural residents of the state to raise an estimated $84 million to help fund Cal Fire, the agency responsible for battling wildfires.

This new tax has been levied on only the rural residents, without a 2/3 vote, simply because they live in the areas where fire is most prevalent and because the state budget was $10 billion in the red, the general fund is empty and the Cal Fire budget has more than doubled over the past 10 years.

I’m sorry folks, but this new tax is wrong, unfair and should serve as a major wake-up call to all residents of the state.

First, most of the western forests are now more than 300% overstocked due to the general public’s support of stopping logging and preventing healthy forest management which has resulted in excessive fuel loads and diseased forests ripe for devastating fire. Second, most of the long-term rural residents of the state have done extensive fire-proofing on their property. Third, public officials have done little to curb development in forested areas, let alone plan for fire events. Fourth, many rural Californians already pay a local fire fee to support local fire districts and fifth, this new tax will discourage rural residents from passing future bond measures and initiatives to support local needs.

This tax needs to be withdrawn, period. Forests on public lands are a public resource and their management should be paid for by the public. It is long past time for active management to return to all western forests. There are jobs to be created, revenue to be generated for local schools and communities and money to be saved from fighting fewer fires, which would be less devastating if management were allowed.

Forests are a renewable resource…and more quickly renewed through active management practices than as a result of recovery from a fire, which often times devastates the soil. It is time to return commonsense to the way we manage our forests and run our government. Just saying….

Immigration and Animal Welfare

Realizing this post may result in a fiery storm of comments, I still wanted to share the following thought, simply to ‘spark’ deeper thought.

I find it interesting that when Arizona passed its immigration law, a group of people strongly supported it and another group strongly opposed it, based on the states’ rights argument. Now, California has passed an animal welfare law (Prop 2) and the group previously supporting Arizona’s rights is now supporting Federal language to overturn, while the group against Arizona’s legislation is now supporting California’s right to enforce Prop 2. Ironic?

To be clear, I supported Arizona’s right to pass immigration legislation and while I disagree with Prop 2, I also support California’s right to enforce it. Without the ability to enforce it, California’s farmers will be at a significant disadvantage and likely be forced out of business due to unfair competition.

I am curious if anyone else has noticed the irony of these two situations.

PS Let’s keep the comments civil 🙂

Reference Links:

Midnight Egg amendment

Arizona SB1070

California Proposition 2

 

Just The Beginning?

Several weeks ago, when the New York mayor proposed the ban on large sodas, it started turning the wheels in my head. Is the next step going to be the banning of cases, 12 packs and 2 liter bottles in stores?  Are grocery stores going to be linked in order to keep track of the quantity of soda being purchased?  Is sugar now considered a controlled substance?

If soda is banned what is next?  Why not limit the quantity of alcohol that can be purchased by one person?  Are we going too soon see single serving cans and bottles, whether they be hard alcohol or wine and the elimination of cases, 12 packs and kegs?  Are stores going to keep track of the quantity that we buy and once we have reached our limit we will no longer be able to purchase?

Why did the mayor choose soda?  Doesn’t tobacco cause more health ailments?  Doesn’t alcohol have more of a negative impact on society?  Was this just a first step?  Is this just the beginning of what is soon to be an out of control nanny state?

What other consumables will become rationed? How will the limits be determined? Are we seeing the beginning of a pre-determined creation of new state and federal agencies?

I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t sit well with me.  Have we really reached the point in our society where individuals are no longer able to make their own decisions whether they are good or bad?  Do we really want to go down this path?  I do not.  You should not.  What happened to individual responsibility?  What has happened too common sense?

Just some thoughts weighing on my mind…

Siskiyou County Farm Bureau vs California Department of Fish and Game (Update)

From Left to Right: Jim Wilson (President SOSS), Clifford Munson (President SCCA), Mark Baird (Vice Chair POW), Gail Jenner (President SCCW), Rex Houghton (President SCFB), Mario Burch (2nd VP SCFB)

TRIAL IN SISKIYOU COUNTY FARM BUREAU WATER RIGHTS SUIT RESUMES MAY 29

 

Trial is scheduled to resume May 29 in a lawsuit filed by Siskiyou County Farm Bureau to challenge the California Department of Fish and Game’s new interpretation of a 51-year-old law. The first week of trial included testimony from farmers and ranchers who said DFG actions threaten farmers’ ability to provide water to their crops.

The case centers on a new DFG interpretation of Section 1602 of the California Fish and Game Code.  This section requires individuals to notify and potentially obtain a Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreement from DFG before conducting certain activities that alter a streambed. Since Section 1602 became law in 1961, DFG has required such permits for activities including gravel mining, the annual construction of push-up dams, installation of new headgates and other construction projects that physically alter streambeds.

But in 2010, DFG began enforcing a fundamental change in how the statute was applied, when it informed farmers in the Scott and Shasta river watersheds that they would be required to obtain streambed alteration agreements simply to exercise their longstanding water rights by opening an existing headgate or activating an existing pump in order to irrigate their crops. Water rights are already managed by the courts and a separate state agency, the State Water Resources Control Board. This new interpretation would require water users to obtain a permit from DFG to exercise existing water rights.

Siskiyou County Farm Bureau members Jim Morris, Jeff Fowle and Joe Hurlimann testified during the first week of trial, describing the impacts the new layer of requirements would have on their ability to irrigate their crops.

“It was important for our farmers and ranchers to provide real-world examples of how the new interpretation is affecting them,” Siskiyou County Farm Bureau President Rex Houghton said. “The new requirements jeopardize both water rights and property rights for farmers and ranchers, creating a situation with a constant threat of enforcement action, additional burdensome fees and the time and expense of obtaining the annual permits.”

Houghton noted that farmers and ranchers along the two rivers have taken a number of voluntary actions to benefit salmon, and said DFG already has many other ways to assure protection of the fish.

The majority of the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau case was presented to the judge during the first week of trial. Siskiyou County Farm Bureau will finish its case and DFG will present its case following the current recess in the trial.

“The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau would like to thank the local farmers and ranchers, as well as county Farm Bureaus throughout the state for their support,” Houghton said. “

In support of the action taken by Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, a number of local organizations, in addition to individual ranchers and farmers, have come forward with donations.

Jim Wilson, a representative of Save Our Scott and Shasta (S0SS), sent $7000 and a statement to the Farm Bureau:  “Due to inactivity (by this organization) in the ongoing fight for water rights, we propose that SOSS cease its current operations and transfer the remaining funds in our treasury to the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, to assist in the lawsuit challenging the California Fish and Game’s new interpretation of 1602 permits. We feel the lawsuit is consistent with SOSS’s original mission statement.”

Gail Jenner, President of Siskiyou County CattleWomen, presented Rex Houghton with a $5000 donation. “We are committed to assisting our local Farm Bureau in this fight, which is a fight to preserve our adjudicated water rights.  Though SCCW’s primary purpose is to provide scholarships and promote beef, without the right to use water as approved and provided for by the court, there is no agriculture.  Little do most consumers realize that the backbone of this country, which is agriculture, is cracking under the weight of over-reaching regulations, increased fees and delays, and intimidation by state and federal agencies, in addition to rising costs and expenses.”

Jenner added, “We hope anyone who cares about agriculture or protecting individual rights will step forward. Our government has already imposed regulations and permitting processes aplenty.”

According to Cliff Munson, Siskiyou County Cattlemen’s President, “Siskiyou County Cattlemen applaud the efforts put forth by the Farm Bureau and the other organizations in Siskiyou County that wholeheartedly support the Farm Bureau lawsuit. Our legislature passes bills, and three or four individuals create a set of regulations, and those regulations are then interpreted by whoever is in charge of our various state agencies. We have reached a point where regulation and interpretation is destroying our way of life.”  The cattlemen have also made a $5000 donation.

Munson continued, “We had a revolution in this country, which was settled in 1776, but when people start going hungry because of the lack of food, we will probably have another. It is great to see the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, the Protect Our Water Organization, Save our Scott and Shasta, the Siskiyou County CattleWomen, and the Cattlemen all join together to help this cause. ”

Mark Baird, of Protect Our Water (POW), also joined in with a donation. “POW supports the Farm Bureau wholeheartedly. We will stand with you ‘til the bitter end. Water rights are integral to agriculture and many of these rights go back more than a hundred years. That the government can step in and impose its own authority when these rights have been adjudicated by the court, is outrageous. It’s time we take a real stand. Enough is enough.”

Mario Burch, 2nd Vice President for Siskiyou County Farm Bureau said. “This is a regulation we must defeat and a case we must win. It’s good to see the various groups unified in support of, and with us in our fight against misused government regulation.”

“Siskiyou County Farm Bureau thanks each of the donors for their contributions,” Houghton said . “We look forward to getting back into the courtroom for the conclusion of the trial and the judge’s ruling on the new interpretation of Section 1602.”

The Siskiyou County Farm Bureau is a voluntary membership organization that works to protect and promote agricultural interests through Siskiyou County and to protect and improve the availability of food and fiber through responsible stewardship of resources.

Courtesy Jodi Burch, Executive Director, Siskiyou County Farm Bureau

Death, Maiming, Wolves and the HSUS

The Wolf Known As OR7, photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS

It has been a while since I posted and for that I apologize. The primary reason was that I did not want publish a post that was not uplifting and positive, so close to Christmas.

Four weeks ago I helped bury a dear friend and had to put a mare down who broke her leg, in the middle of the field, with no holes around, apparently from running, or being chased. Then, three days later, one of our mares, who had just foaled, was killed by either a mountain lion or bear and a cow was killed on the same night, perhaps by a pack of coyotes or the same lion or bear. Read more…

Attention Occupiers ….

A friend of mine sent me this photo. I think it says it all.

Pertinent Advice From Abraham Lincoln

I came across this quote again the other day and couldn’t help but think that it is as pertinent today as it was then…perhaps even more so. We’ve got some individuals in DC who need to read this and take it to heart…particularly a President, who likes to quote President Lincoln, however, he has yet to use this one.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. 
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. 
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. 
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. 
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. 
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. 
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln

(also attributed to Reverend William John Henry Boetcke)

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