Farm Bureau opposes conservation plan

from Monterey County Farm Bureau

4/25/02 - Monterey County Farm Bureau announced its opposition to a set of conservation and development principles that it said would take private property rights.

Farm Bureau said it opposed the "Principles to Guide Conservation and Development" that were recently announced by two local groups, Common Ground and Land Watch.

Monterey County Farm Bureau is a private, nonprofit association of farmers and ranchers throughout the county and is affiliated with the California Farm Bureau Federation and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In announcing its opposition, Farm Bureau's Board of Directors said, "The proposal constitutes a taking of private property rights and Farm Bureau cannot and will not support proposals that take away property owners' rights."

Bob Perkins, executive director of the Farm Bureau, said, "These conservation principles, like the various maps in the draft General Plan, would impose extensive new constraints on private property throughout the county."

He said the principles would be applied in the new General Plan to expand existing environmental laws, denying property owners the due process in state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

"Maps designating private property for habitat restrictions can limit the use of the property. The farmers and ranchers who own this rural property oppose the concepts published by Common Ground and Land Watch."

In a Farm Bureau letter to the Board of Supervisors, Perkins said:

"These constraints would be imposed without notification of, consultation with, or permission by the individual owners of the private property that would be constrained.

"These constraints clearly represent public uses, where all of the benefits accrue to the public at large for conservation of species, habitats and open space, limitations on land use to reduce burdens on infrastructure that is used by the public, and preservation of historic sites, scenic views and other features to be enjoyed by the public.

"And these constraints represent significant new extensions of existing law, particularly in the area of species and habitat protections. It has been suggested by county staff that the draft General Plan simply restates state and federal environmental restrictions. However, local government can only make law that is more restrictive
-- not less restrictive -- than state or federal law. Therefore, environmental restrictions in the draft General Plan are, at best, unnecessary, and at worst, new, harmful and possibly unconstitutional regulations on private property. In particular, the Common Ground/Land Watch proposal and similar General Plan material would impose burdens on private property for protection of species that have not been identified as threatened or endangered through the legal processes of the state and federal Endangered Species Acts and for conservation of land that has not been determined as critical habitat through the legal processes of the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, thereby denying private property owners the due process in these state and federal laws."


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