FOILED AGAIN AT THE "FORUM"
The April 2007 newsletter only had an excerpt of the article below. The following article and statement by Gary Evans is in its entirety.
At the March 15th Sacramento River Conservation Area Forum (SRCAF) meeting, the draft policy of the Good Neighbor Policy (GNP) was adopted despite strong opposition from participating board members. Before this policy was adopted, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, and Butte County representatives, along with Family Water Alliance, voiced their concerns regarding the lack of tangible landowner assurances in the GNP.
After six years of attempting to address landowner assurances from the negative impacts as a result of environmental restoration work within the SRCA, the GNP has yet to accomplish this laudable goal. Even the Landowner Assurances Committee (LAC) chairman Brendon Flynn, Tehama County landowner, acknowledged the current policy as a “work in progress”, but voted to adopt it. He stated that the committee was unsuccessful in coming up with language that the landowners and agencies both agreed upon, venting his frustration. He went on to further state the Forum needs to “move on” and he would not be chairman of the next committee.
Colusa County Supervisor and SRCAF Public Interest Representative Gary Evans read a statement that fellow board members Knute Meyers, Colusa County landowner; John Amaro, Glenn County Supervisor; Dan Silva, Sutter County Supervisor; and Shirley Lewis Butte County landowner, signed on to support. Evans stated, “The “Landowner Assurances Policy,” originated from the outcry of landowners and the need for landowner protections from the negative impacts as a result of environmental work done within the SRCA.”
“It is important to note here that the intent of the original legislation SB 1086 was to create a mechanism for landowners and the environmental communities to work out problems that kept arising. The legislation’s intent was for these entities in conflict to get together and work out real solutions. A laudable goal, that has yet to be realized.”
“It is now 21 years later and environmental restoration projects continue to move forward without protections in place to mitigate the negative impacts that continue to burden neighboring landowners. We can all attest to the many hours over many years that have been spent attempting to establish a good neighbor policy, yet the language brought before this board today fails to provide any real tangible assurances or mitigation possibilities for the landowners within the SRCA.”
“This causes great frustration for myself and many of my fellow board members. This lack of progress and the failure of a good faith effort to address landowner concerns have caused us to lose valuable board members, as well as the willingness of counties and stakeholders to continue to support the SRCAF’s mission. When our Forum receives Resolutions from Counties, Cities, Farm Bureau, and local land organizations stating they do not want restoration projects in their counties, we have failed.”
“It is time we stop playing games, it is time we stop giving the landowners lip service, it is time we stop acquiescing only to the environmental agenda, and it is time we stop reflecting in our newsletters and minutes that all is well, it is not. We are perpetrating fraud on the public by not reflecting openly and honestly the concerns and grievances within our Forum.”
“The Board and staff of the SRCAF have not done their part in advocating for real and tangible landowner assurances. It pains me once again to state that the current language as written is still nothing more than a policy paper outlining a process that will be set into practice on how the Forum will conduct itself. This language does nothing to provide true assurances for private landowners, while at the same time exempting State and Federal landowners from participating in local processes.
“We have real possibilities for language, yet the agencies and the Forum have done little towards helping develop language, and at times thwarted such language. I have heard Mr. Bundy state many times that some solutions may need to be done through legislation. However, not once has this board directed Mr. Bundy and staff to work together with our legislators to educate them regarding these concerns, and to actively participate in shaping solutions that will help provide true landowner assurances. Instead of providing these assurances we have ran the other way saying we cannot advocate legislation. We have both federal and state legislators that understand our situation and are more then willing to assist us.”
“Having said this, I am here to propose that this current landowner assurances language should remain status quo as a white paper only. I recommend forming a new committee that is stakeholder driven, that will work out language for remedies that will help direct staff and this Forum towards providing real landowner assurances. “
“The SRCAF has forged a close working relationship with state and federal resources agencies and various environmental groups, who have said they share and support the SRCAF’s mission. It is not only my hope that they will support our efforts, but they also support any legislation that may be necessary to implement tangible landowner assurances. Should this not be the case then I believe it will be very evident what the real intent is.”
Family Water Alliance agrees with this statement and has dedicated hundreds of hours into coming up with true landowner assurances. It seems that the LAC committee is only interested in getting the policy “off their back” and moving on to the next topic.
Family Water Alliance agrees with this statement and has dedicated hundreds of hours into coming up with true landowner assurances. It seems that the LAC committee is only interested in getting the policy “off their back” and moving on to the next topic. Unfortunately, for the LAC committee, adopting a policy that has no teeth, and is of little benefit, serves only as a ceremonial victory. The true intent of SB 1086 and our legislators has been ignored by creating a policy that does not fully address landowner concerns.
FWA will continue to seek out ways to come up with a policy that protects private landowners. The handwork and crafting of a true solution still remain ahead of us. FWA will work to amend the GNP in order to address the concerns that private landowners have been asking for many years. ■
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