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Winter 2012

Federal Land Grab Gains Momentum

A “vision for the future”, “saving a slice of paradise”, the “undiscovered landscape”.  These are just a few of the phrases used to describe the Berryessa Snow Mountain region.  As a federal land designation gains momentum, I think it is time to look at what “protecting and preserving” this region really means.

A National Conservation Area designation is a way for Congress to say these lands are special.  I think all property owners and recreationists would agree that this region is “special”, but what are the unintended consequences of a federal land designation?  Congress has designated millions of acres as National Heritage Area’s, National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wild and Scenic rivers and many more.  As the daughter of a true avid outdoorsman and with family ties to the Indian tribe that discovered the Yosemite Valley, I do appreciate our public lands and understand what they mean to us as a nation. 

These designations create “management plans” use “local partners”, and use the “willing seller” hoax to acquire more land.  Due to the lack of trust between private landowners and government agencies these “local partners” are brought in to garner grassroots support for the designations.  The groups garner support to “preserve and protect” this region.  My one question is who are we protecting it from?  There is no fear of development on public land and the only way Congress can protect land is to acquire it or regulate it.  This NCA is nothing more than an additional layer of regulation on private property for landowners unfortunate enough to own property within the boundary of this designation. 

A “management plan” does just what it says it manages your land.  The proponents of this plan feel that ranchettes are fragmenting this beautiful landscape.  Whether you agree that is true or not, local government officials are elected by their constituents and the one thing local government hold so dear is land use authority.  Land use authority must remain at a local level and not be elevated to Congress.  It is a lot easier to track down your local county supervisor, city council member or planning commissioner who is probably a local business owner, than it is to “coordinate” your land use plans with multiple state and federal agencies just because Congress has deemed this region “special”.

This region will continue to be what it is today, as long as local land use planning is not circumvented by congress and state and federal agencies.  It is time to take a strong stand against federal land grabs. Farmers, ranchers and private landowners who call this region home do not deserve government bureaucracy, red tape, and additional scrutiny and regulation to protect what is not being threatened.

While on its face this designation may sound good to many, putting land use restriction on private property owners and selling increased tourism to local government officials and an economic benefit is disgraceful.  Who gains from this designation? How can the government preserve your land better than you?  Proponents claim that borrowing millions and putting future generations deeper and deeper in debt is the best way to protect this region. Follow the money and you will find who benefits.  It’s a deal you can refuse! ■


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