Okanogan County Citizens Coalition

United for Multiple Use Resources and Constitutional Government

Table of Contents - Vol VIII,  Issue 6  June 2002

Linchpin of Freedom by Ron Perrow

W-VA New River: Land Grab

Okanogan River Acquisition

RMAP Headlines and Quotes

Addressing the Issues

NMFS to Halt Irrigators

Methow Irrigators Appeal

ESA Listed Fish Kills

Okanogan Resource Council

Real Price of Salmon           

Sacramento River Land Grab

OC3 Meeting Highlights

Family Shoots Cougars


The Linchpin of Freedom - by Ron Perrow

      Our founding fathers were absolutely convinced that an individual’s right to keep and bear arms was essential to a lasting republic. Remember the saying “freedom exists when the government fears the citizens. Freedom is lost when the citizens fear the government.” Are we on the path to fearing our government? I think so. I also think that the most important right in our Bill of Rights is our right to keep and bear arms. It's the right which protects all the other rights.

    The second amendment says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Liberal administrations in the past have assaulted the second amendment to the Constitution with interpretations that our second amendment right dealt with organized militias, not individuals. What a bunch of poppycock. First of all, every amendment in the Bill of Rights limits the government, not individuals. Secondly, other writings and letters by the founding fathers expressed a concern over the expansion of control by the government and in doing so, recognized the importance of an individual's right to keep and bear arms. If this liberal philosophy is carried to a bureaucratic conclusion, you can bet your grandmother's bippy that you will loose your right to "keep and bear arms."

Now here is some good news. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson went before the Supreme Court recently and said in briefs filed with the court, "The current position of the United States is that the Second Amendment more broadly protects the rights of individuals, including persons who are not members of any state militia or engaged in active military service or training, to possess and bear their own firearms."

It is very significant that Olson defined the "current position" of the federal government. His interpretation is just that, an interpretation. We must realize that our ongoing fight for freedom will never be over. As our society has become more affluent it has also become more liberal. The government has grown well past the size needed to function as the founding fathers envisioned.  The growth of government has gone hand in hand with a loss of individual freedoms. In other words, as government has become bigger our individual rights have become smaller.

Australia recently instituted a ban on firearms. Guess what? The incidence of armed robbery went up over 40 percent. The adage, "When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns" is certainly applicable.  No one would argue that there is a misuse of firearms in our country. The argument comes when decision makers try to confiscate firearms because of the misuse. The National Riflemen Association cites example after example of the armed citizen thwarting a criminal activity. I believe the whole gun control issue boils down to a simple truism: We have to consider the misuses of firearms as part of the price we pay for freedom. It's not that we are going to put up with the misuses, as we certainly will try to eliminate them.  But we must recognize the enormous importance our ability to keep and bear arms has on our freedom. In the United States, they are inexorably entwined.


W-VA, New River: Same Old Land Grab

            Hinton, West Virginia, is a small rural town of about 5,000 people. Most residents have lived their entire lives there; many live in houses built by long-departed relatives.  They don’t care to live anywhere else.  Hinton is paradise.

            Ann Roach is a new comer. She and husband Bruce, native Ohioans, discovered Hinton by train journeying through the countryside to view the Fall foliage in the valley of the New River Gorge. They were so taken by the beauty of the area that only a few weeks later they  returned.  They toured the area then turned down a small, one lane, dangerous road along the New River. It had pot holes "big enough to ruin heavy equipment," high banks where cars couldn’t pass safely and where heavy rain and snow caused mud slides and left fallen trees in the road.

            One week later, Ann and Bruce were the proud owners of a small, one bedroom cabin located between the neglected road and the river.  The previous owner told them there were plans to fix the road and showed them govt documents which assured little impact on private property. The only real question was when; residents had been waiting over ten years for those road repairs. 

            So Ann and Bruce became happy homeowners, having fully reviewed the documented plans for the New River Parkway.  There was one problem with the cabin - not enough room for eight grand children’s regular visits.  So Ann and Bruce designed new house plans. To make sure the road would not affect their house, Bruce approached the planning coordinator of the New River Parkway and was told, "go ahead and build it."  They called their new home "Riversong." Prominently displayed at the back entrance of the new house is Ann Roach’s land patent, #2717. Dated 1841, it was issued originally to Adam Bragg. The official government document assured Bragg that this land would be his, his heirs and his assigns forever.

            On Sept 9, 1999, residents were called to a meeting by the W-VA Dept of Transportation. "This is it," they thought. "We’re finally going to get those road repairs."

            As residents arrived, they were surprised to see an armed guard at the door. Inside, because of inadequate seating (36 chairs for 150 people), residents, including the elderly, had to line up behind tables.  In the back of the room were large display boards of photographs showing property sites along the river.  In several cases there were two photos showing the same site, with one digitally enhanced to remove homes to show what the property would look like without homes.

            The residents began to understand that filling potholes wasn’t on the agenda. The transportation dept’s agents announced the New River ‘Scenic’ Parkway, passed out brochures and did some fast talking about economic revitalization through tourism. They spoke of "view sheds" and "conservation easements."

            Earlier meetings had discussed a parkway - always with assurances to protect private property.  Not this time.  Govt officials explained that W-VA Dept of Transportation had signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" with the National Park Service (NPS), Federal Highway Administration, and New River Parkway Commission.

            The Parkway would not be just an improved road, but a "scenic parkway."  Federal funds would be used to establish a pristine "view shed" along the river. The govt, through NPS, would now determine how the land along the river would be used. Under the “Memorandum” these govt entities reached agreement that the "Preferred Alternative" for the Parkway, "will focus on a range of land acquisition options for resource protection along the proposed New River Parkway…"

            The "brochure" handed out at the door, had these opening words: "Welcome! The purpose of this brochure is to introduce you to this meeting and provide information on the land acquisition/resource protection options being considered…"  Clearly, the entire plan for the New River ‘Scenic’ Parkway had been decided behind closed doors.

            No residents had been asked for their opinions or input.  Earlier pleas by residents for "no loss of private property" were ignored.  The govt had simply decided to take the land and rearrange it to their liking.

            Residents learned that W-VA Highway Dept would take all of the land from the road to the river and all the land of "equal scenic value" from the road to the toe of the mountain.  The highway dept would then give the land to NPS to compensate for any park lands affected by the Parkway.  Now the folks along New River understood why there was an armed guard at the door.

            As the devastating impact of the plan began to dawn on the stunned residents, eighty-four year old widow, Mabel Flanagan, looked at the display boards. There, she saw a photograph of her home and the matching one with her home removed.  Shocked and distraught, Mabel grabbed her chest and had to be taken home.

            The govt was taking her land. Did the govt care that she had lived her entire adult life in that home? ... that she built it and raised her family there before New River Road was more than a one-car-tire path?... that Mable Flanagan was one of the people who made the land so valuable that the govt now lusted to own it?

            In a television interview a few days later, a tearful Mabel said she just wanted to be allowed to "die in my home on the New River."  After that meeting Mabel never left her home again except to visit her doctor.  She got her wish and died in her beloved river home [Aug-00].

            Nat’l Park Service is now constructing a new visitor center to serve as the "gateway" to the New River Parkway, located just outside Beckley, W-VA, on the east side of the river.  The road will then cross the river on a yet-to-be-constructed bridge and head down the west side, taking out all of the homes, farms, and fishing camps in its path to form a "view shed" for the parkway.

            The govt agents attempted to sell the parkway idea to Hinton residents as revitalized economic growth through increased tourism, but Hinton is on the east side of the river, completely bypassed. NPS Superintendent Henry Law, arrogantly told Ann Roach they would "not only get all of the private property along our road, they would take every business along the Hinton by-pass."  So much for economic revitalization.  For Hinton, the New River Parkway means lost homes, lost revenue and lost hope.

            What do the scientific studies say to support eighty-five families losing their homes? As scientific justification, state/federal highway depts are using out-dated, unrelated impact studies created for two different streams in another county.  Though the New River Parkway report quotes the studies of biologists’ reporting on the impact of the roadway on aquatic life, those biologists say their investigations were not designed to evaluate the effect of a roadway.

            After eighteen months of demanding the studies, a life-long fisherman on the New River, Charles McGraw learned that there were no biological studies for the project.  The biologist named in the report denied doing such a study.  He not only didn’t investigate the effect such a parkway would have on the aquatic life of the New River, but said he had emphasized to W-VA Dept of Highways that his study "was not relative to that proposed road construction." After McGraw brought this to the attention of the state/federal highway depts and New River Parkway Authority, they admitted that making such false claims was a "mistake."

            “I’m forced to agree,” says Ann.  “Misrepresentation (lies), fraud, collusion and falsification of an environmental impact study is certainly a mistake!”

            The folks living on the New River are hard working, humble and kind.  Many are elderly.  They’ve been brought up to believe that govt should be respected.  Many simply don’t understand what the new parkway intends to do to their way of life.  They use the natural abundance of the area to supply much of their food. They are peaceful, happy and content to stay on the river for the rest of their lives, just as their fathers did.  In fact, many live in homes built by their ancestors.  One family has a land patent made out to their forefathers and signed by James Monroe before he was president.  It says the land will be theirs forever – and it has been for over 200 years – before the new breed of American govt decided that everything good should belong to it.

            Ann Roach and a few of her neighbors are trying to fight back.  They have organized "Sisters of the River." Together they have written an endless stream of letters to elected officials trying to find one who will stand with them to save their property.  They have researched every facet of the New River Parkway Authority, finding a trail of lies, deceits and false environmental impact statements.  They have gone to the media, written letters to the editor and set up a website “www.newriverfriends.org” to sound the alarm.

            Along the way, the "Sisters" have made some powerful enemies of a govt behemoth that controls millions of dollars, local politicians and the fate of their homes. And the govt is beginning to fight back, hoping to silence their main critics.

            In Feb, while it may not be related, one "Sister," Sheila Davis was arrested, fingerprinted and threatened with huge fines and jail time.  The charge: a faulty septic tank.  But the septic tank isn’t just Sheila’s, but is co-owned by another neighbor, who wasn’t arrested.  In addition, the health official who signed the arrest warrant is now listed as a "reference" for the New River Parkway.

            The truly frightening fact of the story of the New River land grab isn’t just the power of the govt to take the land. It’s that this story and the details surrounding it, from secret plans, to arrogant govt agents, to falsified environmental reports, to uncaring elected officials, are identical to so many other cases around the nation.  This time it’s the New River, but it’s the same old land grab.

            By Tom DeWeese; American Policy Center;  April 30, 2002; Exceprts.  Full text of this article can be found at. www.americanpolicy.org/prop/proparticles.htm

More Okanogan River Aquisition Ahead


*          "This acquisition [Project #29035] dovetails nicely with The South Okanogan-Similkameen Conservation Project in Canada that seeks to maintain north-south connectivity, particularly along the river courses."

*          "This Canadian effort is mirrored by a U.S. project called the Similkameen-Okanogan Conservation Corridor Project.  WDFW expects to receive about $1million for this project, part of which could be spent on the property for land stewardship efforts."

*          "This project is also expected to meet the acquisitions objectives to be derived from the upcoming WDFW/ Nature Conservancy eco-regional planning efforts."

            Excerpts; Response to ISRP Review Comments; Project  #29035; Submitted by Stewardship Partners and Central Washington University; March 15, 2002


Opposed to Okanogan River Acquisition

            On January 28, 2002, I attended an Okanogan County Commissioners meeting and heard a presentation by Cental Washington University (CWU) on their plans to purchase 1,671 acres along the Okanogan River to build a research station.  CWU calls this the McLaughlin Falls Field Station.  The presentation noted that the university has ‘teamed up’ with Stewardship Partners and has applied for funding from a variety of sources including Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  However, BPA FY 2003 Project #29035, Okanogan River Riparian and Upland Fish and Wildlife Habitat Acquisition was not specifically mentioned nor was information about this aspect of their project provided to the commissioners or citizens in attendance.

            Professor Richard Mack’s presentation centered around the project’s educational and scientific merits; claims that the research station would bring economic benefits to the county; that all land and water currently in agricultural use would remain in agricultural use; and that the university would provide payment for property taxes ‘in perpetuity’ so the local tax base would not be damaged.  He concluded with a request that the commissioners support CWU’s project with a letter of endorsement - even providing an ‘on-disk’ sample letter.  After some discussion, the commissioners opened the meeting to comments and questions by the public.

            COUNTY SUPPORT FALSELY CLAIMED: I pointed out that the project ‘Narrative’ which has been posted on Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Authority website since about mid-Dec-01 states:  “The county commissioners are fully supportive of this project...”  The commissioners were not pleased to learn this.

            WATER: The ‘Narrative’ claims that the project “would retire spring-source water rights providing additional habitat enhancement opportunities...”  In light of claims made during CWU’s presentation, I asked about the spring water rights and the amount of water involved.  Mr. David Burger, Stewardship Partners, answered this question.  He stated that they were mistaken, that there are no spring water rights on the property.  (Tape on file.)  Apparently, that ‘mistake’ has not been corrected, as this mistaken claim has now been repeated in the ISRP Preliminary Recommendation and Comments:  “The proposal would retire certain spring water rights that come with the property.”

            PROPERTY APPRAISED VALUE:  The ‘Narrative states: “A full appraisal of the property has been conducted, under contract to Stewardship Partners.  The appraised conservation (public use) value for the properties was [$7million] $7,000,000.  The sellers of the property have agreed to a 15% reduction in the sale price to value, representing a 15% match [cost share].  Further, to address concerns raised by the loss of tax revenues, the sellers have agreed to continue the payment of tax to Okanogan County on behalf of the non-profit organization that would ultimately hold deed to the property (presumed Central Washington University).” This inflated appraised value and creative accounting leaves ratepayers ‘holding-the-bag’ - not only paying for the purchase of the property, but also providing the sellers matching funds, and continuing property taxes.  Under these terms, acquisition of this property would be a blatant misuse of ratepayer dollars!

            ECONOMY & TAXES:  The supposed economic benefits are questionable since the research station would be self-contained, providing meals and housing for staff and students.  The use of public money, either taxpayer or ratepayer funds, to ‘prop up’ the local tax base is ‘unsustainable’ - not unlike the old ‘Robbing-Peter-to-Pay-Paul’ proverb.  Additionally, inflated ‘public use’ appraisals further skew local property values and property tax assessments.  Purchase price for any property acquisition should be based on locally assessed property values and represent realistic fair market value.

            LAND:  A recurring point of opposition to this project is that Okanogan County land-base is already 80% government-owned.  The ‘cumulative impacts’ - social, economic, environmental - of government ownership should be a major consideration for this and any land acquisition proposal.

            OPPOSE PROJECT #29035:  Okanogan Resource Council opposes any BPA ratepayer funding for this project.    [signed] Bonnie Lawrence, Chairman

             Excerpts; Okanogan Resource Council; Letter to Northwest Power Planning Council and Independent Science Review Panel, April 5, 2002

RMAP Headlines and Selected Quotes

            State Effort to Help Protect Fish Leads to Dust-up Over Timber Road Rules:  A revolt is simmering here over dirt-caked timber roads that curl like rope through private forest lands.  Twice in the past month, nearly 1,000 cattlemen, constitutionalists and timber owners jammed meeting halls to vent over expensive new state mandates to fix private roads...  “It’s ludicrous,” said Joel Kretz, a rancher and forestland owner with 1,300 acres near tiny Wauconda, in northeastern WA’s Okanogan County.  “Where are people supposed to get the money?  Everybody’s already on their lips.” ... “It’s outrageous,” said John Kiesecker, who owns 560 acres near Wauconda.  “If I have to do anything, I’d have to log to pay for it, and I don’t even want to log.”  Seattle Times; April 22-02

            Washington Forest Owners Object to Costly Road Rules: Family Forest landowners in WA state are facing stingent new road standards that many say are more costly than they can afford.  Although the road issue has boiled over in the Okanogan -  where a meeting April 11 attracted as many as 1,000 people - it affects landowners throughout the state.  Joel Kretz, president of the Okanogan County Farm Bureau, estimates that it could cost $5,500 per mile for road abandonment costs or as much as $7,700 per mile to bring roads up to standards. Capital Press; Apr 19, 2002

            RMAP Rule Could Affect Property Rights:  A Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan rule, requiring private property owner to maintain forest roads, could have wide-reaching effects on the property rights of landowners across the state.  The new RMAP rules state that any road that has been used for forest practice or fire suppression since 1974 must be improved and maintained to new standards within 15 years... Landowners must develop detailed maps showing all water and identifying potential problems ...  If the roads cannot be brought up to standard, property owners must make them impassible to four-wheel drive vehicles...  “This is a real problem for landowners because they need those roads for maintenance of their own land,” said Bonnie Lawrence, Okanogan County Citizens Coalition (OC3). Columbia Basin Herald; April 4, 2002

            Farm Bureau Calls for Grassroots RMAP Movement:  More than 1,000 people attended a second meeting, on April 11, called by Okanogan County Farm Bureau, in opposition to the state’s Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan.... “I reject the whole premise that private landowners are responsible for public resources on private property,” said Kretz.  “If this is the way they’re going to do it, then they need to get the public resources off private land.” Gazette-Tribune; April 18, 2002

            Private Land Lock-up:  One moment they were responsible, law-abiding owners of forestland in rural WA; the next, they were eco-criminals... What had they done? Nothing - and that was the problem according to notification letters sent by WA Dept of Natural Resources.  The New American; May-20-02

            Ranchers, Loggers and Rural Property Owners Oppose Road Plans:  For some reason the legislature and the federal agencies have targeted forest landowners under the Forest and Fish Bill with draconian requirements...  One might ask - since the feds are one of the drivers of this law - why are not the Federal lands, and the US Forest Service roads not the first targets? (They can’t afford it!)... What about our state highways?  Governor Locke estimated it would take thirty-five years to bring them up to snuff.  The 39 state counties have some horrible culverts needing replacement - where’s the pressure on them?  If a fish can’t negotiate streams under federal, state and county roads, is there much sense in mandating the landowner that has the headwater habitat to immediately fix his roads. The landowner, in particular the small rural landowner, is the least able to resist the onslaught of government, and the least able to pay, therefore to the bureaucrats, the perfect sucker with which to experiment.  Thank God there are 1000 Okanogan landowners that are willing not to besuckered in, that can speak their mind and be a catalyst for change.    WCLA Springboard; April/May 2002

            Back to the Drawing Board:  Surely there must be acceptable ways for the state - and, by extension, private landowners whose roads might affect state waters - to meet minimum federal requirements without imposing such expensive intrusive and onerous burdens on landowners... These rules merit a trip back to the drawing board so they can be scrutinized by everyone affected, and possibly scrapped, before they are imposed.   Omak Chronicle; Apr 10, 2002         


Addressing the Issues


Governor Gary Locke

PO Box 40002

Olympia WA 98504-0002


Public Lands Commissioner, Doug Sutherland

Department of Natural Resources

PO Box 47001

Olympia WA 98504-7001


WA Forest Practices Board

PO Box 47012

Olympia WA 98504-7012


WA Department of Fish & Wildlife

600 Capitol Way North

Olympia WA 98501-1091


Washington State Senate

(Your Senator’s Name)

PO Box 40482

Olympia WA 98504-0482


Washington State House of Representatives

(Your Representative’s Name)

PO Box 40600

Olympia WA o8504-0600


Northwest Power Planning Council

851 SW Sixth Ave, Suite 1100

Portland OR 97204


Bonneville Power Administration

PO Box 3621

Portland OR 97208


National Marine Fisheries Service

Reg’l Director Bob Lohn

7600 Sand Point Way, NE Bldg 1

Seattle WA 98115-0070


Okanogan County Commissioners

123 5th Ave North

Okanogan WA 98840


Central Washington University

400 East 8th Ave

Ellensburg WA 98926


NMFS Seeks Order to Halt Irrigators

             The federal government will ask a judge to prevent the largest irrigation district in the Methow Valley from diverting water to its canals. The motion for an injunction was filed  [April 12] in US District Court in Spokane.

            The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) says the Methow Valley Irrigation District (MVID) has not done enough to protect endangered steelhead and salmon.  Irrigators have not replaced their gravity-fed system with groundwater wells and pressurized pipes as they agreed  to do in June of 2000.

            NMFS said that diverting the water "is reasonably certain to cause the unlawful taking" of endangered steelhead and salmon.  It is the first attempt by federal agencies to shut down an irrigation district in the Methow Valley that runs solely on private lands.

            Richard Price, Omak attorney for MVID, said he was shocked by the filing because they have been negotiating with NMFS for a year to amend the 2000 agreement, and are close to finalizing it.  "We believe this is an attempt by NMFS to force us to agree to the final details of the plan."

            Price said the old agreement does not require the district to change to a pressurized pipe system if it was in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.  He said the district has been in compliance for a couple of years. "We've been operating for two years under this consent decree, and they have no proof we've been killing fish." Price said, opening the ditch will have no impact on endangered fish because their screens are in compliance and low flows that could affect river levels needed by fish won't come until July.

            NMFS spokesman, Brian Gorman said it isn't about water levels in the Twisp and Methow rivers, where the district diverts water to about 200 irrigators watering about 1,600 acres.  "It's not really about water, it's how you get the water from the river to the farmers," he said. His agency believes the district's new plan won't work.

            District directors voted in July of 2000 to reject the pressurized pipes because, they said, power costs would not make the irrigation district economically viable.

            Gorman said he's not sure exactly where negotiations are now, but two weeks ago his agency believed that the district's fish screens aren't good enough to avoid killing fish. "We're certainly looking to resolve this without dragging the district into court," he said.

            Irrigation district Director Mike Gage said the district couldn't correct its screen problems without a new agreement in place.  "The agreements they put out were agreements we couldn't agree to without giving up water rights and water use," Gage said. "These agency people, both state and federal, are nothing but liars, cheats, bullies and thieves."

            Excerpts; Wenatchee World; April 17, 2002 


Methow Valley Irrigators Appeal Federal In-stream Flow Standards

            OKANOGAN -- Methow Valley irrigators who have been without water for three years are appealing a recent U.S. District Court decision that allows federal agencies to impose in-stream flow requirements that interfere with private water rights.

            The Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation has agreed to handle the appeal, which was filed Monday with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Washington Agricultural Legal Foundation will cover expenses.

            In March, District Judge Robert Whaley upheld a decision by the U.S. Forest Service, in consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service, to deny use of diversion ditches running through the Okanogan National Forest to take water from the Chewuch and Methow rivers.

            Although the agencies never challenged the irrigators’ right to the water, they argued that diverting water from the rivers would threaten protected salmon by reducing in-stream flows below new federal standards and violate the Endangered Species Act.

            Ruling that the case was not about water rights, the judge agreed that federal agencies have the right to impose in-stream flow requirements to protect threatened or endangered species.

            The district court may think this is not about water rights, but farmers and other property owners who are facing their fourth straight summer without water don’t agree,” said Galen Schuler, an attorney with the Seattle firm of Perkins Coie, who will be working as a consultant on the appeal.

            The irrigators and Okanogan County, the lead entity for water resource planning in the Methow River Basin and co-plaintiff in the case, argue that by setting in-stream flow standards, the agencies arbitrarily created a federal water right for themselves, superceding existing water rights in violation of state law.

            We are not against providing water for fish, but federal agencies have to follow the law,” said Okanogan County Commissioner Craig Vejraska.

            In-stream flows are set by the state,” Vejraska noted. “If federal agencies want higher standards, the Endangered Species Act requires them to work with the state or buy water from willing sellers. Instead of following the law, the agencies simply confiscated the water they wanted.  At stake are legal issues that threaten irrigators and municipal water supplies throughout the West,” Vejraska added.

            The irrigators also contend that the federal in-stream flow standards are not only illegal, they are entirely unrealistic and not based on science.

            For example, scientists for the Northwest Power Planning Council have determined that the Methow River immediately below Early Winters Creek naturally runs dry in eight out of 10 years.

            But NMFS is determined to shut us down as an alleged threat to salmon and steelhead,” said Steve Devin, of the Early Winters Ditch Company. “It’s absurd.”

            Dave Jones, an irrigator who normally gets water from the Skyline Irrigation Ditch, also noted that water denied to Skyline is used by irrigators downriver whose ditches don’t cross federal land, “so the water doesn’t help fish.”

            Washington State Farm Bureau; News Release; May 14, 2002.  Contact: Dean Boyer, Director of Public Relations, (800) 331-3276; Mike Poulson, Washington Agricultural Legal Foundation, (509) 234-6281; Don Anderson, Okanogan County, (509) 422-7280. Contributions to the “Methow Project” appeal can be made to the Washington Agricultural Legal Foundation, P.O. Box 2596, Olympia, WA 98507.


ESA-Listed Fish Kill in Methow

            winthrop - Heavy rains, snowmelt and debris killed thousands of endangered Chinook salmon April 13-14 in a Twisp River rearing pond, when the  river’s flow increased by about 300% overnight.  The debris clogged the water intake screens to the rearing pond, according to state Dept of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) manager Chuck Johnson.

            Some 75,000-90,000 Chinook salmon yearlings were killed.  Another 10,000-25,000 survived, with an additional 50,000 at the nearby Methow Hatchery.  There are additional thousands of salmon spawned naturally in the Twisp River.  The fish were federally protected under Endangered Species Act.

            John Kerwin, WDFW hatchery division manager, said the fact the fish were raised in a hatchery lessens the seriousness of the kill, since the number of hatchery fish released can be manipulated.

            “Fortunately, Chinook salmon don’t all return to spawn at the same ages,” said Johnson.  “So we could have some Twisp River Spring Chinook returning to the system at the same time that these fish would have, which lessens the blow of the loss.”

            An alarm system failed to warn hatchery personnel of the clogged intakes.  The dead fish were discovered when staff arrived to feed and maintain ponds. “We don’t have the resources to staff a caretaker up there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so we have to rely on an alarm system to monitor conditions arund the clock,” said Johnson. 

            The state will investigate the alarm system failure, Kerwin said.  “This is not something we take lightly.”

            Brian Gorman, NMFS spokesman, said the federal agency doesn’t anticipate taking any enforcement action.  “Obviously we’re concerned whenever listed fish are killed,”  Gorman said.  “We’ll probably make sure there are requirements in place so in the future this doesn’t happen again.”

            About six years ago, Kerwin said, the hatchery lost most of the fish in a holding pond on the Chewuch River, but those were not listed fish.

            After that, the Douglas County PUD installed the alarm systems at the ponds.  The Methow Hatchery is owned by Douglas PUD and operated by WDFW.

            OC3, Article compiled from: Wenatchee World, April 18, 2002; Omak Chronicle, April 24, 2002.


Okanogan Resource Counci

The next ORC meeting is May 28th, 7pm, at the Mount Olive Grange in Riverside.  See youTuesday!


ORC Board of Directors will meet at 6pm before the regular meeting.  Board members, Please be there!


Guest Speakers:  Greg Christensen, Fat Chance Mining and Resources Coalition; and Jim Creegan,  a local placer miner.  They have quite a story to tell.  Don’t miss it!!


Support Creegan:  Jim Creegan, a local placer miner on the Similkameen River, Okanogan County, is facing gross misdemeanor charges brough by WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife [Sgt. James Brown & Officer Matt Nixon] via Okanogan County Prosecutor’s Office [David Jorgensen, Deputy Prosecutor].  He faces maximum penalties of one year in the county jail and five thousand dollar fine for each of two counts.  His crime: hydraulic/placer  mining.


Under new WDFW “Fish & Gold” regulations a hydraulic dredge is limited to a 4 inch nozzle and new requirements for intake screening.  Creegan is aware of these new regulations and had made ifforts he felt were appropriate to adapt his 5" dredging equipment to the new standards.


Last February, WDFW inspected Creegan’s unattended equipment and seized the nozzle and intake valve.  In doing so, they damaged the equipment, which required repair, cost of replacement parts, and caused loss of work time.  WDFW found Creegan’s modifications inadequate. 


Using “an  engineering ruler” the WDFW agents measured his 4" nozzle, which was purchased from the manufacturer of his dredging equipment.  WDFW found it to be 4.1" and confiscated it.  They also found the intake valve screen out of compliance.


When confronted with the ‘seized’ evidence at his home,  Creegan explained to them his adapted screen was on-site.  He had been in the process of repairing it before he continued his mining activity.  He also presented WDFW agents with his supplemental Hydraulic Permit Approval (HPA) and his required copy of the “Gold & Fish” rules pamphlet.


Creegan’s arraignment was May 7th.  He pled not guilty and asked for a court-appointed attorney.  His ‘pre-trial’ hearing is June 3, 2002, in Okanogan.


Real Price of Salmon Found High

            PORTLAND -- Don't be fooled by the price tag on that Styrofoam package of salmon in the grocery store. Economists have figured out the real cost of Columbia Basin hatchery fish returning from the sea to spawn, and it is higher. Much higher.

            The cost per fish:

            $64.35 for a fall chinook that gets back to the Spring Creek National Hatchery on the Washington side of the Columbia River.

            $179.39 for a steelhead trout from the Irrigon hatchery on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

            $4,646.17 for a chinook from the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery in Idaho.

            $7,437.50 for a protected sockeye salmon that makes it to the Eagle Hatchery in Idaho.

            The numbers represent how much it cost to build, staff, manage and monitor hatcheries that hatch fish, feed them and deliver them to the river system. The young salmon, called smolts, head for the ocean and, if everything works, return as mighty adults in two, three or four years. Most fish don't make it, hence the hefty tab for survivors.

            Independent economists examined hatchery costs as part of a yearlong review of hatchery policies and practices by the Northwest Power Planning Council, composed of two representatives each from Oregon, Idaho, Washington and Montana.

            The hatchery study is not yet complete. But preliminary calculations, among them the price per returning fish at six hatcheries in the Columbia Basin, are startling.

            There are no measures by which to gauge hatchery success or failure. Some hatcheries exist to create fish for harvest; others exist to replenish specific rivers that have declining stocks of wild salmon; yet others exist to compensate for spawning grounds cut off by dams. Washington state's hatchery system is the largest in the world.

            There are more than 100 hatcheries throughout the Columbia Basin. The basin's salmon, overall, are not recovering on their own, despite improved runs in the past two years.

            "We have a whole bunch of hatcheries in the Columbia Basin with a wide spectrum of objectives," said Hans Radtke, a member of the planning council's economics board. "Hatcheries need to be categorized by measurable objectives. Until we do that, we can't compare one hatchery to another one and find ways to improve the system."

            Daniel Huppert, a scientist working on the review, puts it another way: "You have all these different hatchery programs started at different times and places for different reasons and different funding. There's nobody responsible for reviewing them as a unit." Does that mean $300 or $7,400 is too much -- or too little -- for an individual fish?

            The Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery is designed to produce salmon that will breed naturally in the Clearwater River, where salmon are having trouble, and seven of its tributaries. If that effort to reintroduce fish to the wild works, Radtke says, expensive salmon may be worth the price. This hatchery may be a cheaper alternative than some other measures, such as taking out dams, restoring habitat or whatever else, he says.

            Likewise, the Idaho Fish and Game hatchery in Eagle, near Boise, is designed to save Redfish Lake sockeye from extinction. Just 26 adult hatchery-born sockeye returned last year; the average in the past three years was 96 fish. Operating the hatchery and monitoring the results costs $714,000 a year, making each one of those 96 survivors worth $7,437.50. That's a price that Paul Kline, hatchery manager, thinks may be worth paying.  "How do you assign a price to saving this last remnant of a population?" Kline said.

            Some biologists worry that hatchery fish could weaken wild stocks by taking their food or habitat and by interbreeding with them.            Anglers are allowed to keep hatchery-born salmon with their adipose fins removed. Most wild-born salmon and non-clipped hatchery salmon, such as from the Eagle Hatchery, are off-limits to anglers.

            Jim Lichatowich, a fisheries biologist, says hatcheries have not solved the problem of declining runs. "We made a bargain 126 years ago and traded habitat and rational harvest for hatcheries," said Lichatowich, whose 1999 book "Salmon Without Rivers" argues that hatcheries have failed to stop the decline of Pacific salmon in the Northwest.

            Hatcheries expanded rapidly throughout the Columbia Basin after the region's first one was built on the Clackamas River in 1877. Now they're operated or paid for by each of the Northwest states, by tribes, by utility companies and by federal agencies. Most funding comes from federal tax revenue or from the Bonneville Power Administration. But no agency is in charge of calculating how much is spent to run hatcheries. A tally by The Oregonian found that federal and ratepayer funding last year exceeded $80 million.

            The evaluation Lichatowich longs for, however, has begun. It will be guided by the power council study and a separate assessment titled the Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan, to be carried out by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which manages Northwest salmon recovery. When it's done, every hatchery in the Northwest will have been examined, with its goals identified and its ability to meet its goals gauged.

            The Associated Press, May13, 2002


Land Grab Along the Sacramento River

            Local folks who were worried about the amount of land being bought along the Sacramento River for habitat and other environmental purposes were cheered a few months back when Congress told US Fish & Wildlife Service (F&W) to stop it.

            Locals were concerned about loss of tax revenue, effects on the economy from farmland taken out of production, and impacts on neighbors from land allowed to revert to wilderness. They were also upset that F&W bars the public from the land it buys until it develops a plan for the property, which can take years.  By the time Congress acted, F&W had snared 12,000 acres along the river and hadn't even started to draft a plan.

            Well, F&W stopped buying land and started drawing a plan for what it had already bought.  But the purchases didn't stop.  Instead the funding was shifted to the Nature Conservancy or one of the other public and private agencies pursuing their own buying initiatives along the river.  Now, it's too late to try to stop the environmental land buys along the river.  The deed is done.  Downstream from Highway 32, there are just a few gaps in the swath of such properties that's a mile wide and 25 miles long.

            And that's not all.  Most of the huge old Llano Seco Ranch east of the river, south of Ord Ferry Road, is locked up in preserves and easements.  A couple of miles southeast of that are thousands of acres of state Fish and Game Dept's Butte Basin and Dry Creek preserves.             West of the river is the Sacramento Nat'l Wildlife Refuge south of Willows, and the Delevan Nat'l Wildlife Refuge southeast of those.  Conservation easements are spreading east from those toward the river. Much of Butte and Glenn counties has become a massive, interconnected wildlife refuge - a huge lab for experiments in habitat restoration and allowing the river to meander.

            There actually could be some value in that.  The Nature Conservancy, for instance, is working on ways of moving flood waters in the lands west of Chico from private land onto the habitat land.  If what they're trying works, farmers and residents in the area might see less unwanted water on their land - a good thing.

            A band of wild along the river probably would be beneficial for anglers, hunters and tourists.  If camping and hiking could be allowed along the stretch, it would be an attraction without parallel.

            But the problem is, there is no way for local residents to have any influence on seeing that any of those things happens.  Each of the dozens of private and public agencies working along the river his its own agenda, and none of them are eagerly seeking the input of those of us who'll have to live with their handiwork.

            And even if they were, it would be practically impossible to participate, since there is no single plan. F&W is drafting one plan.  CA F&G has another.  State Parks has its own idea.  The Corps of Engineers is heading a different way.  Add in the Nature Conservancy and other private groups, and the interdisciplinary efforts like the Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture, and just staying on top of all that's going on would be a full-time job. In addition, there's no guarantee that all the separate initiatives will mesh.

            While we're not big fans of creating new bureaucracies, that's what we need right now, a single institution with authority over all these projects - state, federal and private - that would be accessible and answerable to the citizenry.  It should be charged with seeing that all those plans work together, or preferably, that there's just one plan.

            It should also be charged with seeing that the needs and wishes of the local community are dealt with, although no one has seemed to care up to now.

            Commentary; Capital Press; May 3, 2002.  Reprinted from the Enterprise Record; Chico, CA.


OC3 Meeting Highlights

May 13, 2002 - 11 member groups attending

      RMAP Update:  OC3 Letter w/ sign-on was authorized, discussion boiled down the following points: 1) Assault on constitutional private property rights; 2) Unreasonable cost burden and time-frame requirements for  private landowners - compliance by 2005; 3) Where’s the scientific justification for new road standards; 4)  Roads in 39 counties, State highways, DNR and other State managed lands; and federal lands all across WA state do not meet new “Fish & Forest” road & culvert standards.  Why? Time & Money!!!  Gov Locke estimated it would take 35 years for state highways; Lands Commissioner Sutherland says it would cost DNR $250 million, funds they don’t have; and in a recent GAO report Forest Service official estimate they’ll need over 100 years to restore fish passage through culvert replacement/upgrades!

      Olympia:  [Note: 7th Dist - Sen Bob Morton, Reps Cathy McMorris & Bob Sump attended both mtgs]

      April 26th, Special RMAP mtg: DNR admitted verbally that RMAP notices to landowners were only sent out from Colville, NE Reg’l Office.  This was confirmed by Ok Co Farm Bureau Pres Joel Kretz; and reported on local radio by Rep Sump.  DNR now says all regions were conducting some form of landowner contact. 

      May 8th, Forest Practice Board mtg:  RMAPs to be reevaluated, including definintion of small forestland owner and actual impact of their roads. DNR will develop a list of what can be done administratively, what Board can do through rule-making, and what may require legislative action by the next mtg in late June.

      [See RMAP Headlines & Quotes, Page 6]

      BPA/Central Washington University (CWU) Okanogan River Land Acquisition:  Bonnie L, Ok Resource Council, reported the latest development.  At the recommendation of ISRP (Independent Science Review Panel) project sponsors now propose putting 1,636 acres (all but actual bldg site for “science station”  and nearby existing ranch buildings and development) into perpetual conservation easement (CE)status. CEs are to be managed by Okanogan Valley Land Council “in concert with” Stewardship Partners; Methow Conservancy; and CWU.  A letter expressing willingness to serve in that capacity was signed by Dale Swedberg, Land Council Board Member. Interestingly enough, Swedberg just happens to work for WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife too, as manager of the Sinlahekin/ Driscoll Island Wildlife Areas.  [See Page 4]

      Forest Service EA:  Ron P, Methow Valley SnoMo; Gary A, Butte Busters SnoMo; and Tom W, Assn of Ok Co SnoMo all reported they have submitted comments on FS’ Environmental Assessment concerning allowable levels of winter recreation on Ok Nat’l Forest.  EA dealt w/ snowmobile rental, helicoptor skiing, use of the Black Pine Warming Hut etc.  This is still part of the fallout from envirus lawsuit filed Oct-00 by WA Wilderness Coalition; Kettle Range Conservation Group; Friends of the Loomis Forest, Predator Conservation Alliance.  Meanwhile, two viable small businesses in Ok Co - snowmobile rentals - went out-of-business.

      WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife:  Last February WDFW inspected a local placer miner’s hydraulic dredging equipment and seized the nozzle and intake valve.  Although he had required state permit, the miner now faces possible imprisonment and fines.  [See Support Creegan, Page 8]

            On the Radio:  Ron P, has done a couple “appearances” on KPQ and has been invited to be a semi-regular guest.  On Fri, May 31st, 8-8:30am - KOMW Openline,   Ron  & Bonnie L will be ‘talking issues.’  As new OC3 Chair, Ron would like to do this monthly w/ OC3 group involvment.  Stay tuned.


Family Shoots Four Preying Cougars in One Day

            APPLEGATE, Ore. -- Jani and Tina Bango's ordeal began with finding the half-eaten bodies of their two pet goats hidden beneath some grass, and continued through the evening as they were forced to shoot four mountain lions that strolled onto their property.

            Over a six-hour span Wednesday, the Bangos legally shot and killed the cougars that came into their rural Applegate Valley yard to feed on the dead goats, killed by one of the giant felines earlier in the day and set aside for later. "We were prepared to deal with one, but this was just crazy," said Tina Bango, 32. "It's something we hope to never see again."

            Cougars are normally secretive and loners. Rarely will cougars be seen in groups larger than just a mother and perhaps two young kittens, biologists said.

            But this pack of healthy mountain lions appeared to be a mother, two juvenile offspring about ready to head out on their own, and a larger male that perhaps was the female's new suitor or simply a "nomad" that had joined the family, said biologist Mark Vargas of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "I've never heard of a group of cougars that big," Vargas said. "It's amazing."

            The killings were all legal under Oregon's damage-control laws because the cougars had killed livestock. The animals also were deemed a threat because they brazenly strolled about in daylight with little concern for humans, Vargas said. "Once they get one free meal like that, they normally end up coming back," Vargas said.

            The Bangos and their two children, ages 4 and 5, live along Thompson Creek Road about four miles from the Applegate Store, in the thick of southwestern Oregon's cougar population. The Bangos reported the goat killing to the ODFW, then prepared to take armed shifts watching for the cougar to return for more feeding.

            Jani Bango shot the first cougar through his bedroom window with a 30.06-caliber rifle at about 4:30 p.m. "We thought, OK, problem solved," Tina Bango said. An hour later, the couple spotted two more cougars - one strolling down the family's driveway and the other sipping water in an adjacent irrigation ditch. They shot those. The last cat showed up around 10:15 p.m. and was shot feeding on the goats in the yard.

            The Associated Press, 4/27/02

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