Farm Bureau opposes costly land purchase by university
County Farm Bureau strongly opposes Central Washington University’s
proposed 1,671-acre land purchase in Okanogan County, WA for a total
estimated cost of $8,775,500. Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)
ratepayer dollars would be used to build an environmental field research
station on 6.2 miles of land on the west side of the Okanogan River.
appraised “conservation value” of this 1,671 acre purchase is $7
million and would cost ratepayers
$6,212,000 over a four-year period with the bulk paid in the first two
years. Other cost-share monies and additional funding sought through the
Salmon Recovery Funding Board would further add to the taxpayer burden.
County Farm Bureau opposed the project in a letter to Northwest Power
Planning Council and asked that funding be denied. The letter outlined:
Over 80% of the land in Okanogan County is
already in “protected” status through government ownership and
control, which does not include the significant government and land
trust accumulations of conservation easements.
Economic hardships to the County and
citizens through ratepayers and taxpayers burdens and payments in lieu
of taxes remain stagnant, do not offset production potential, do not
contribute to local levies for important community services, and shift
tax burdens to citizens.
Long-term funding for planning and research
have no direct benefit to fish.
Facts were misrepresented regarding water
rights and County support.
findings quoted in the project were also questioned which included the
Okanogan Subbasin Summary and Limiting Factors Analysis, both prepared
by the Colville Tribe, and the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Funding
strategy prepared by a regional Technical Advisory Committee. Lack of
public involvement and input into these leading technical documents for
Okanogan County was strongly opposed.
Kretz, Okanogan County Farm Bureau President, said, “This proposal
just doesn’t make sense in an area with overwhelming government
ownership and an ever-shrinking tax base. If CWU is determined to
acquire and ‘protect’ land in Okanogan County, we strongly suggest
they pursue land already government-owned and ‘protect’ that all
they want. The last thing the people of Okanogan County need is higher
power rates, a greater tax burden and the loss of productivity
associated with private land ownership.”
County Farm Bureau will continue strong opposition to stop this
impractical and extremely costly land purchase from going forward.
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