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Green Ribbon Reports

Winter 2008

ESA CONTINUES TO THREATEN PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS

Finally, a decision has been made by the State Reclamation Board in regards to the Sacramento River Partners Del Rio Wildland Preserve Project, and the proposed planting of over 1,500 elderberry shrubs. The Board approved the encroachment permit to plant vegetation in the Butte Basin overflow area, but excluded any elderberry from being planted at that location.

There were many people in opposition of this project: Eric Larrabee, Trustee for Levee District 3; Kim Davis, from Senator Sam Aanestad’s office; Mark Spannagel, from Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa’s office; and Tom Ellis, President of the Westside Levee District, and Ashley Indrieri, Executive Director of Family Water Alliance. There was also a letter of opposition for the Glenn County Board of Supervisors echoing the concerns of many elected officials and the local community.

The primary opposition to the project was long term funding for maintenance of the site, additional regulatory concerns, and the loss of tax revenue to Glenn County. It has been estimated, by the Department of Water Resources, that it costs taxpayers over $85,000 to mitigate for one elderberry shrub. DWR has identified over 100 levee sites in need of repair, but they will only be able to fix less than ten because of the exorbitant price of mitigating for the endangered species host plant, the elderberry shrub.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) continues to be a constant threat to private property rights, economic stability, and public safety across the nation. While FWA continues to advocate for ESA reform, we remain diligent in voicing opposition to planting additional elderberry shrubs within a floodway. Unfortunately, this project is not the only one on the table that would plant endangered
species in our backyards.

Colusa Subreach planning, which includes seven restoration sites in Colusa County, have not excluded elderberry from their plans. The planning, headed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Sacramento River Conservation Area Forum (SRCAF), has found that there will be regulatory effects to neighboring landowners if elderberry shrubs are allowed to be planted on the restoration sites. TNC conducted a study and determined that elderberry would be the only regulatory concern for landowners within the Subreach area.
In addition, TNC would have to go before the Reclamation Board to obtain an encroachment permit before they would be allowed to plant any vegetation on the restoration sites. This current Reclamation Board has retained a strict policy of prohibiting elderberry shrubs. The recent changes and reorganization of the Reclamation Board may change that policy, but FWA is committed to protecting our local communities and will continue to advocate in the best interest of local farmers and landowners. ■

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