The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) released documents outlining how EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule will give the agency sweeping powers to regulate land use despite a body of law clearly prohibiting such overreach. “Our analysis shows yet again how unwise, extreme and unlawful this rule is,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “Our public affairs specialists and legal team have assembled the best analysis available, and their conclusions are sobering: Despite months of comments and innumerable complaints, the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) proposal is even worse than before.”
The WOTUS rule, first released in draft form in April, 2014, has garnered fierce opposition from farmers, ranchers, and land owners of all kinds. Dozens of states and countless municipalities oppose the measure.
Read the Farm Bureau’s assessment of the new rule here
One of the most concerning aspects of the new rule is the ability of CWA regulators to ignore scientific indicators of jurisdictional waters and instead rely purely on aerial photos, opinions and past conditions.
Source / Link : Farm Bureau Offers Detailed Analysis Of Waters Of The U.S. Rule | Growing Produce
Source / Link: Commentary: Clean Water Act threatens private property rights
The redefinition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act will severely impact farming activities making it more difficult farm by creating a broader regulatory scheme, no certainty to farmers and few exemptions.
Credit : California Farm Bureau Federation – http://www.cfbf.com/
Washington, DC – Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) voted for a measure last evening that rolls back the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial “Waters of the United States” regulatory proposal. HR 1732, which passed by a vote of 261-155, prevents the EPA from implementing the rule and directs it to work with stakeholders on a new rule. The EPA has refused to make any significant changes to its proposal, despite receiving approximately a million comments from across the country identifying the negative impacts the rule would have on farms, small businesses, and local governments.
“The EPA and other federal bureaucracies already ignore clear exemptions in order to attack farmers and ranchers, and they now want even more authority? The Waters of the US regulation would expand the federal government’s jurisdiction over vast swathes of Northern California, including gullies which contain water only during rainstorms and wet depressions in fields,” said LaMalfa. “Congress has made it clear that it never intended to provide these powers to the EPA, has demonstrated bipartisan opposition to the proposal, and has acted to defund it. It’s time that the EPA remembers that Congress writes our nation’s laws, not federal bureaucrats.”
LaMalfa referred to the EPA’s existing interpretation of the Clean Water Act, in which it ignores clear, explicit exemptions of agricultural activities in order to penalize farmers for changing crops or replanting fallowed fields. LaMalfa has successfully passed several measures to limit and defund this interpretation, most recently in the Energy & Water Appropriations bill the House passed earlier this month.
Tricolored Blackbirds Receive Emergency Protection Under the California Endangered Species Act
The emergency protections prevent the killing, harassing, or harming of tricolored blackbirds for the next 180 days, while the California Fish and Game Commission considers a petition to formally list the birds under the state’s Endangered Species Act. Tricolored blackbird populations have declined throughout the State with only 145,000 birds counted in 2014-the lowest ever recorded. Formal listing of this bird will primarily affect agricultural operations as tricolored blackbirds nest in large colonies located within irrigated pasture, silage fields, and other agricultural crops. “It’s critical that harvesting and plowing activities on private lands used for tricolor breeding are prohibited or delayed during the upcoming 2015 nesting season”, Jeff Miller from the Center for Biological Diversity.
Project Spotlight: Gallaway Enterprises Completes Environmental Review and Permitting for the Spring Valley Road Bridge Replacement Project
Gallaway Enterprises recently completed a wide range of environmental compliance services for the Yuba County Public Works Department on the Spring Valley Road Bridge over Browns Valley Ditch. The purpose of the project was to replace a functionally obsolete bridge structure with a new bridge. Tasks included:
- Wetland Delineation
- Natural Environment Study
- Management of sub consultants for ISA Soil Testing and Cultural Resource Assessments
- Application and negotiation of §1600, §401, and §404 permits from the CDFW, RWQCB and USACE respectively.
- Peer review of the County’s CEQA document
- Revegetation Plan
This project goes to construction in 2015!
Caltrans State Route 24 Storm Damage Repair-Project Spotlight
Gallaway Enterprises recently finished biological monitoring on the on Caltrans State Route 24 Storm Damage Repair Project in Contra Costa County, just west of the City of Orinda. The purpose of the project was to repair storm water damage at two locations along the highway. The project involved the repair of a sinkhole around a riser and drainage inlet and storm damage repair of 0.53 acre saturated portion of the hillside to prevent it from slipping into the highway. Gallaway Enterprises provided onsite daily monitoring for 52 days to fulfill all the terms and conditions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Incidental Take Permit, and Caltrans Specifications. Target species for the project included California red-legged frogs, Alameda whipsnakes, and nesting migratory birds.
Since the new rule was proposed, our office has been receiving 3-4 calls a week from farmers and those considering acquisition of lands for farming. The EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers have proposed rule changes to the Clean Water Act that provide “clarifications to the scope of the CWA”. Those opposed to the new rule assert that the rule expands the jurisdiction of the agencies via the Clean Water Act and provides a broad expansion of the types of waters and lands that would be subject to a federal permit. In our humble experience, the new rule formalizes what the San Francisco and Sacramento office of the US Army Corps of Engineers have been taking jurisdiction of gradually over the last 6 years.
For those who conduct wetland delineations, you may have noticed that the Wetland Determination Data Form “Arid West 2.0” doesn’t include the automated features of the previous “Arid West 1.6”. While the 2.0 version was produced in 2008, we haven’t been able to find an automated version, so we took it upon ourselves to utilize the old version and update it to reflect the content changes in the newer 2.0 version.
The data herein, including but not limited to geographic data, tabular data, analytical data, electronic data structures or files, are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either expressed, implied, or statutory.
Butte County suffered devastating damage in the summer of 2008 from wildfires that ripped through several communities. After the wildfires the County applied for, and was awarded, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Initiative (DRI) funds to assist with rehabilitation from the wildfires. The County was awarded over $7.3 million to address the recovery efforts, part of which were allocated to the rehabilitation of Concow Road and associated drainage infrastructure.
Gallaway continues to lead through innovation and science. The Butte County Department of Public Works recently engaged Gallaway Enterprises to assist them with a “bat problem”. The Honey Run Covered Bridge is a historical bridge located on Honey Run Road over Butte Creek. The site is used for educational events, weddings, photo shoots, fundraisers and other public events. Over the years a large populations of bats have been using this historical structure as a maternity roost and the population of bats has grown. The concentration of bats creates a regular maintenance problem for the County.