Stream and River Wildlife Corridors - The Latest Attack on Property Rights
Property owners of Sonoma County, Northern California, are again under siege.
This time it is because of a stream or river that might happen to run through the property owner’s land. What used to be considered a blessing of having a source of water so close by will now be regarded as a liability. One hundred feet on both sides of the stream bed and two hundred feet on both sides of the Russian River will be set aside as "Riparian Corridors," which means protected "habitat connectivity corridors" for wildlife." Two recent hearings were held at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, CA, July 18 and 25, and one more will be held Tuesday, August 1, from 6-9 p.m. for property owners and environmentalists to learn more about this policy and to voice their opinions. The first meeting was attended by mainly 600 outraged property owners who have streams or the Russian River running through their property. They listened in shock as they were told what the "riparian corridors" means for them. Land that used to belong to them 100 - 200 feet on the sides of the stream or river is essentially now "taken" with no use allowed, no development, no crops planted or grown, no building allowed, no building of a fence allowed (unless it is wildlife friendly - only 4 ft. high, which means it will let in most wildlife, essentially serving no purpose) no cleaning out of weeds or debris from inside the stream or river; perhaps a little mowing of high weeds will be allowed. Property owners land is "taken" but with no compensation, yet they still get to pay the taxes on it as if they still had use of it.
Some of the landowners who spoke out at the first hearing were wine growers. Mr. Jeff Jackson of Kendal-Jackson Winery said that 8,800 acres of his land would be affected and essentially "taken." A woman from the Sierra Club, one of the many environmental groups present, spoke. She said she could not understand why people were so upset. "This land is your land, this land is my land. No one is supposed to own Mother Earth. We all own it together."
Abolition of private property
The lady from the Sierra Club revealed exactly what this issue is all about - (it really has nothing to do with providing protected corridors for wildlife) - the ultimate goal of the environmental movement is the "abolition of all private ownership of property." Where have we heard that phrase before? It is actually the first plank of the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx. There are many who believe the environmental movement is like a watermelon - green on the outside and red in the middle, and it is really communist philosophy that is driving it.
Second attack on property owners in Sonoma County
This is not the first time property owners in Sonoma County are under siege. Last year it was because of an "endangered" tiger salamander that turned out not to be endangered at all - just "threatened," but that didn’t matter - the same rigid, draconian measures were being applied - 4-5,000 acres of land set aside in protected habitat costing perhaps as much as $400 million in extra costs for any land use or development in the protected areas. This issue is still being decided in committee as to whom it will all affect and the costs.
Important questions to ask
Now a new commission is exercising arbitrary unlimited powers and control over Sonoma County property owners again. Who are these people, how do they come to such power, what tactics do they use to get property owners to finally give in and accept the "taking" of their property, on what legal grounds do they stand and how do they get away with it?
Committee is called The Planning Commission on the Draft GP 2020 Open Space and Resource Conservation Element
Its members are appointed by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. How do they come to have such power? They usurp it mainly because most Americans are too busy working, enjoying their families and their property, totally unaware, unsuspecting, and unconcerned about such issues until they suddenly hit home. By then it is usually too late. The committee members are not our elected officials so they are essentially not accountable to us as the voters and we can’t vote them out if we don’t like what they are doing.
Wide range of draconian plans for power and control
In the 2020 plan for Sonoma County, they do not stop with policies for controlling just the land along rivers and streams, there are three policies in total:
1) Scenic Resource Issues - includes Scenic Landscape Units (SR) - essentially dictating to property owners on ridgelines that they must screen their land with topography and vegetation so their home will not be visible on the ridge, probably blocking out the reason the people bought the land their in the first place - for a scenic view looking down on the valley. This section also has plans to dictate and limit the use of lights on scenic landscapes, including motion detectors because "light pollution changes the character of rural areas and sky glow reduces the ability to see the stars."
2) Biotic Resource Issues - which includes Biotic Habitat Areas (BH) - along with protecting the "Riparian Corridors" along rivers and streams, they would apply a "Biotic Habitat Area" designation to many areas such as "marshes, wetlands, habitat connectivity corridors, and other sensitive natural communities" that would protect them with the "Biotic Resource Zoning," essentially dictating and limiting use of property.
3) Other Resource Issues - Timber Harvesting and Energy Resources - again restricting the cutting of timber except in certain limited areas. California already has so few areas where any logging can take place. We have lost over 50 of our saw mills since the "spotted owl" became declared "endangered." We certainly don’t need this issue. Part of the energy issue is to increase energy conservation which includes promoting the myth of "global warming" and calling for reduction of "green-house gas emissions."
What tactics are used to get the property owner to finally give in and give up his rights?
First of all the benevolent commission holds hearings where they allow the property owner the opportunity to speak and plead his case or express his opinion. They take notes and pretend to be so interested and concerned and "feel our pain." Then after many weeks or months of "investigation and discussion," they show compassion and are willing to compromise. Instead of 20,000 acres of land being designated as protected habitat for the endangered salamander, it will only be 5,000. Instead of 200 ft of protected area for the Russian River, it will only be 100 ft; instead of 100 ft for stream beds, it will just be 50 ft. Then the property owner is supposed to be relieved and rejoice and give in. But it is still land taken no matter how large or small.
Upon what legal grounds does this commission operate?
It certainly is not the US Constitution which was founded by men who strongly believed in private ownership and control of one’s own property.
"Private property and freedom are inseparable." George ashington
"Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist." John Adams
Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson in writing The Declaration of Independence originally used the words, "We are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights - that of ‘life, liberty, and property,’ taken from John Locke’s writings. But then it was decided to use a broader term - "the pursuit of happiness," which is made most possible by the private ownership and use of one’s own property. The Declaration of Independence also makes it very clear what the primary role of government is to be - "to secure these rights governments were instituted among men." our elected officials are supposed to protect our God-given rights to life, liberty, and property - not take them away.
The 4th and 5th amendments to the Constitution clearly states the founders intent and belief in the protection that government is to give to private ownership of property
4th Amendment - "The right of the people to be secure in their persons. houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."
5th Amendment - No person shall ...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
If these arbitrary commissions are not operating on the US law granted to them by our Constitution, what law are they using? It may come as a shock to some people, but these commissions are operating under United Nations agreements from a 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) where an agreement was signed by representatives from 178 nations called Agenda 21 (or Sustainable Development). President George Bush Sr. signed it for the USA, but it was never ratified by our Senate. However, as a "soft-law policy recommendation" not a treaty, it needs no ratification. President Bill Clinton began implementing it by Executive Order in 1993 and established the “President’s Council on Sustainable Development” for the purpose of implementing Agenda 21 across the US.
Those involved in the implementation of Agenda 21 soon learned that they could not call it by its real name. Property owners began to learn what that term really meant and to fight it, so its name was changed to such benign terms as: "visioning, comprehensive planning, growth management, smart growth, or as in the case of Sonoma County - "2020 Open Space and Resource Conservation" - under which comes all the other deceptive names for their programs listed above.
What can we possibly do to try to stop this out-of-control taking of our property rights?
1) Become more aware, informed and involved. Go to www.freedom21santacruz.net for the background information of UN Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development and what it all entails. Santa Cruz was designated as an Agenda 21 pilot city, so some property owners have been fighting this issue since 1993 when it was first begun there. You can also write to Freedom 21 Santa Cruz, PO Box 3330, Freedom, CA 95019 or call 831-684-2232.
2) Don’t think these issues are just involving a few select areas or a few select people. The plan is for the entire nation to come under the draconian rules of Agenda 21 by the year 2020. Get involved now while there is still a little hope and glimmer that our rights might still be protected.
3) Recall elected officials. Since it was the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors who appointed the power grabbing Planning Commission on the Draft GP 2020 Open Space and Resource Conservation Element, can they not unappoint them? Perhaps the threat of a recall would get the Board of Supervisors to do just that. Then they would finally honor their oath of office and do what government officials are supposed to do - protect the rights of life, liberty and property of the residents of their county.
4) Pass a pay-for taking property initiative similar to one Oregon recently passed which will make the government and its appointed commissions have to pay for any "taking" of privately owned land no matter what excuse or silly title they want to give it. [F21sc Editor's Note: Proposition 37 in Oregon has a loophole that deems the initiative runs with the owner/family rather than the land]
Property owners need to make a bold statement and a firm stand - no more encroachments on our rights and "taking" of our land - not 200 ft, not 100 ft, not 50 ft, not even one foot!
Orlean Koehle is the State President of Eagle Forum of California