Council Members Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert
King County Council
Seattle, WA
 
 
Dear Reagan and Kathy:
 
Although I have sent the following article to a large list of government officials, including the King County Executive, the full council, the entire Washington State Legislature and the news media, I am sending a separate copy to each of you, because this travesty is going on in rural King County, the two districts you represent.  It is patently unfair for King County rural landowners to pick up the tab for these fish and habitat culverts, when saving fish is purely for a "public" purpose and should be paid by the public at large.  I respectfully request that each of you address this issue and bring it up before the full council.  Rural landowners in King and many other counties throughout the country are getting the environmental "shaft" from government.  Don't you think it is high time that those who represent rural landowners, stand up for them?
 
Respectfully,
 
 
 
Ron Ewart, President
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RURAL LANDOWNERS
P. O. Box 1031, Issaquah, WA  98027
425 222-4742 or 1 800 682-7848
(Fax No. 425 222-4743)
Website: www.narlo.org
 
 
 
To:     NARLO Members, American Rural landowners, Interested Parties, King County Executive and Council, the entire Washington State Legislature and the news media
From: Ron Ewart, President, National Association of Rural Landowners (NARLO)
FOR:  All recipients - but mostly those in Washington State

"Environmental Rip Off of Rural Landowners"
By Ron Ewart, President
National Association of Rural Landowners
Copyright August 15, 2007 - All Rights Reserved
 
 
About 34 years ago, your government, via the U. S. Congress, passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endangered_Species_ActIt has been one of the worst and most expensive examples of government's abject failure in trying to "tweak" mother nature.  Over 1,300 species have been listed as endangered and only about 10 show any signs of recovery.  Meanwhile, huge volumes of your taxes (billions) have been wasted on this program and severe, probably irreparable damage, has been done to what are left of constitutionally protected property rights.
 
Then in the year 2001, the U. S. Congress passed the Pacific Salmon Recovery Act (PSRA) (HR 1157) which provided federal funds to five states, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and Idaho, that prepare and submit a salmon recovery plan for their state.  Washington was already working on their plan in 1999.  Salmon is one of those supposedly endangered species and yet when hatchery salmon are counted, salmon are far from endangered.  Pacific Salmon recovery is all wrapped up in several federal and state agencies, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1977 (see http://www.epa.gov/r5water/cwa.htm).  All of these acts, laws, rules and regulations reach very deep into private property and most folks haven't a clue just how deep.  You don't own your rural land any more because the government has confiscated all of your rights through such laws as the ESA, the CWA and PSRA, GMA's, CAO's, WRIA's, and such agencies like the EPA, the BLM, the USDFW, the DOE, the DNR, the SDFW and on, and on, and on.  It is such a mish-mash of overlapping agencies and inter-jurisdictional responsibilities, it would take on all the characteristics of a ball of razor wire if you tried to untangle it.
 
But what is little known is who gets to pay and who loses.   It is abundantly evident that the private rural landowner loses, big time.  But what the private rural landowner doesn't know is that he also gets to pay for much of salmon recovery in local taxes and reduced use of his property, while the city folk get off virtually scot-free.  We have uncovered cases in King County, Washington, which we believe extend into every other rural area of all Washington State counties and probably throughout the five western states involved in the Pacific Salmon Recovery program.
 
Pursuant to the ESA, the CWA and the PSRA, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (SDFW) has mandated that all Washington counties replacing culverts under county roads must replace them with a very expensive fish and habitat culvert, without providing state money for the cost.   Most streams, creeks and rivulets are clogged and choked on private land anyway, so the expensive culverts under county roads do no good at all.  Expensive "window dressing" at best.
 
The cost for each of these culverts range from $50,000 to over $2,000,000.  Many of these small streams and rivulets dry up in the summer and couldn't support a silverfish, much less a spawning salmon.  So under a Public Disclosure Act request we obtained documents for 14 such fish and habitat culvert projects in King County to determine who pays, their cost and their contribution to actual fish preservation.  It turns out that there are over 40 such fish and habitat projects in King County alone that have been or are planned to be installed in the next few years.  We added up over $8,000,000 in actual and estimated costs for just 14 these projects, paid for by the rural landowner road levy tax.   On top of this is the extended inconvenience to rural landowners due to road closures.  Some rural roads have been closed for the entire summer, requiring lengthy detours.
 
No matter what law or act mandates the preservation of salmon habitat, the preservation is purely for a public purpose.  So why should the rural landowner be forced to pay out of their taxes for what is clearly a cost that should be born by every citizen of the United States, or at the very least, the state of Washington?
 
Attached is a WORD file showing pictures of two such projects on a rural road in Eastern King County, near the town of Fall City, about 25 miles East of Seattle, Washington.  A brief description of the project is shown to the right of each picture. 
 
All across Western America, these kinds of preservation and conservation projects are unnecessarily sucking up taxpayer dollars for a fish that is supposedly endangered.  But not only is it not endangered, it is heavily fished by commercial fisherman out in the ocean and by native Americans who install nets across rivers to catch 50% of the northwest spawning salmon.  (The Boldt decision)  If these fish are endangered, then why are we harvesting them in the first place?  Why do native Americans get 50% of the catch?  Why don't we shut off the fishery for four years and quit eating salmon, so that the species will recover?    Why indeed!  It would be cheaper in the long run to buy all the commercial fishing boats from their owners and all the nets from the Indians.
 
But most importantly, why are rural landowners, who already are under a vicious attack by government from every possible environmental angle, also being asked to bear the cost of salmon recovery by having to pay for these very expensive fish and habitat culverts?
 
In conclusion, we make the following requests from county and state government.
 
TO THE KING COUNTY COUNCIL:  We respectfully request that King County demand re-payment from state and federal budgets to cover the cost of these fish and habitat culverts and remove their cost from the unincorporated road levy tax.  The road levy tax should only be used for road maintenance, including the cost of standard culvert replacement, where needed.  It is patently unfair that the rural landowner not only has to bear the entire brunt of unconstitutional environmental land use regulations, but gets to pay for all this environmental fish protection with our tax dollars, while the city-folk get off virtually scot-free.
 
TO THE WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATURE:  Further, we respectfully request that the Washington State Legislature address this issue and pass legislation requiring the state to pick up the tab for fish and habitat culverts throughout the state.  The current system of requiring rural landowners to pay for them is patently unfair, inequitable and a violation of the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.
 
 
 
 
Ron Ewart, President
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RURAL LANDOWNERS
P. O. Box 1031, Issaquah, WA  98027
425 222-4742 or 1 800 682-7848
(Fax No. 425 222-4743)
Website: www.narlo.org