Washington Farm Bureau News, Sept. 10



Sept. 10, 2003 No. 86

GOV. GARY LOCKE HAS DIRECTED THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY Trade and Economic Development to appeal local land-use ordinances adopted by the Snohomish County Council to the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Board. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sept. 10) The ordinances would allow expanded urban growth areas to accommodate schools and churches, and allow development of farmland or forestland that is no longer considered an important natural resource. Council members accused Locke of using the Growth Management Act to usurp a local planning process. The council also said it creates an appearance of unfairness since Locke appoints the three-member Growth Management panel.

THE NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION PLANS TO SUE A SKAGIT COUNTY DIKE district for allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act by maintaining a tide gate on Dry Slough that keeps out juvenile salmon. (Skagit Valley Herald, Sept. 9) The Virginia-based advocacy group has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue. The district replaced the tide gate a year ago. At that time, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife told the district to replace the new tide gate with something that would allow salmon to get into the slough within a year. However, the Legislature passed a law exempting tide gates from fish-passage requirements.

THE SKAGIT COUNTY COMMISSION THIS WEEK VOTED TO ALLOW NON FARMERS to put up farm-produce stands in agricultural areas. (Skagit Valley Herald, Sept. 9) A farm organization, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland, had challenged a special-use permit issued to a Woodenville couple who purchased 60-acres from a Skagit County farmer. The couple leased the land back to the farmer, except for the corner where they plan to build their stand. Skagitonians argued that only farmers should be allowed to sell products on agricultural land. However, while local ordinances require farm-based businesses to be run by a farmer, the commission found there is no such requirement for farm stands.

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE HAS DECIDED NOT TO PLACE THE MOUNTAIN plover on the endangered species list. (Greeley, Colo., Tribune, Sept. 9) Instead of disappearing, as environmentalists feared, the small birds are abandoning their traditional grassland nesting sites for a more favorable habitat - cultivated agricultural lands. Seems the plovers prefer barren ground for nesting. The National Pawnee Grasslands is even putting in water holes and dumping barrels of a molasses and grain mix to attract cattle and make the grasslands more attractive to the birds. The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory is also offering a free service to farmers: Call at least 72 hours before cultivation and the observatory will find and mark plover nests with flags so the farmers can avoid them.

THE 9TH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS HAS REINSTATED A LAWSUIT THAT challenges the planned conversion of farmlands in California into estuaries for environmental uses. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 8) The suit accuses federal agencies of failing to consider alternatives that could have achieved the same environmental goals. A lower court dismissed the suit after ruling that an environmental impact statement and report did not constitute final agency action, and therefore, the matter was not "ripe" for judicial review.

CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU HAS ENDORSED ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER FOR governor in the Oct. 7 special election. Schwarzenegger joined Farm Bureau leaders at a rally in Sacramento for the announcement.


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