Flood and Erosion Bill Receives Wide Support
Report from washington State Farm Bureau
February 9, 2007
Olympia, WA - The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony this week on flooding and erosion issues from across the state. HB 1748, sponsored by Rep. Brian Sullivan (D-Mukilteo), would require a declaration of chronic danger for people impacted by floods or erosion for two or more consecutive years. The bill would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue an expedited permit to prevent future damage. The costs of the projects would be the responsibility of the property owner.
On Monday, Grays Harbor dairy farmer Lisa Dilley spoke of her mother’s 14-year battle to get a permit to save the family homestead and farmland. Dilley described her mother as "an extraordinary person" who is more willing to work through regulatory processes than most people. Despite that experience, the 14-year delay resulted in the loss of at least 17 acres of prime farmland, as well as habitat enhancements that had been installed for the benefit of salmon. While the home is now safe, the farmland remains at risk of major erosion in the event of a single high water mark. The family is still paying the mortgage and taxes on the 17 acres that are no longer farmable.
Walla Walla Farm Bureau President Keith Farrens told the committee of seeing sheds and haystacks floating downstream. He said HB 1748 "is a common-sense bill that should be passed."
Lewis County Commissioner Lee Grose explained to the committee that flooding problems on the Cowlitz River threaten a major bridge in his county. He emphasized the need for this bill as a means to improve protection of human health and safety.
On Wednesday, nearly 40 Farm Bureau members signed in to support HB 1748 and then watched the hearing.
Roger Finely of Snohomish County spoke about his battle with flooding over the years while living and farming near the Skykomish River in Sultan. Ken Sletten of Okanogan County talked about the effects of a logjam in the Methow Valley and how the perpetual flooding damaged many homes and lives. Steve Hammond detailed the effects of bureaucratic inaction on one family’s home in King County. Photos of the house showed five-foot-high water marks inside the home.
Each Farm Bureau member’s testimony, combined with the supporting signatures of the members in attendance, provided real-life evidence of the positive impact passing this legislation would have on farmers and other people battling flooding and erosion.
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