Coastal Voices: Beware of environmental ‘umbrella’

By Bruce Barber June 09, 2012 12:00 am

On Saturday, May 26th, a small item appeared in the Triplicate’s Reporter’s Notebook on page A5. This article was titled “Future refuge lies nearby.” After reading this brief article I felt obligated to scream out, “Wait a minute, this is a huge red flag.”

Let’s take a moment to review a slice of history from California and in particular Del Norte County.  There was a time when a large number of timber mills were operating here. Some large, some small, all privately owned. These mills and the timber industry dominated the economy of this county.  Every person that has lived here for a generation or more has personally known family members that were provided employment by this industry. Many kids growing up here naturally expected that they too would eventually “work at the mills.”

Then along came the environmentalists. They sought to protect the trees and forest under the “umbrella” of the spotted owls or the old growth redwoods. Additionally an avalanche of EPA rules was created that had a disastrous effect on the operations of the mills. The effect was to destroy the economy of a thriving county.

Eventually, through the efforts of environmentalists and a sometimes convoluted process, we experienced a transfer of private property to government-owned and controlled land. A large portion of our county is now possessed by the government and this enables it to restrict access, close roads, prevent economic development and remove these lands from the tax base.

Wouldn’t it have been great if someone, back several decades ago, would have screamed out “wait a minute — you are taking the beginning steps to destroy the economy of this area.”

Then under the “umbrella” of public access to the beaches, our state created the Coastal Commission. It made sense to many that the few rich people should not be able to block the masses from enjoying our beautiful coastline. Thereafter, out of that initial interest, the monster of our current Coastal Commission has grown.  Citizens of our county that own private land have to leap through a series of hoops to develop their own property. They are limited in size and shape of the structures they wish to build. In fact, the Coastal Commission will use extortion efforts to trade off property that it has declared as “wetlands” and gain more property for transfer to government control.

It can prevent the development of a destination golf course.  Recently our own efforts to expand the local airport runway have been held to these same extortion methods. This is in my view a form of eco-terrorism.

Wouldn’t it have been great if in the very beginning of the forming of the Coastal Commission, someone would have raised the red flag by shouting “wait a minute, you are about to destroy private property rights beyond the immediate coastline.”

I would like to take a minute to express my own personal beliefs. We were created by God to live upon this Earth. He has provided us with beautiful lands, abundant with animal life, plant life and natural resources for us to use for our enjoyment and prosperity. We have a moral obligation to be good stewards of this precious gift. But these things are his gift to us as human beings. Animals, birds, fish and trees are not our equal.

Now I bring your attention to the recent Triplicate article, which referred to a magazine article in the January issue of Natural Area Journal, “Climate Change Refugia for Biodiversity in the Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion.”  

The Triplicate item cited additional details from the magazine: “as the global climate continues to change, the Klamath-Siskiyou region could prove to be one of the top places in the world to preserve species ... The Klamath-Siskiyou region has been a safe haven for species during climate change events in the past, and it will likely to be a refuge in the future.” The article further specifies areas of importance as the southern bend of the Klamath River, middle fork of the Smith River, and watersheds of Rock Creek and Dillon Creek.

I say, “wait a minute, this article is a huge red flag. This is the beginning of creating a special refuge region, under the umbrella of “climate change” that will eventually remove all property rights within its confines. There will eventually be no future construction, no renovations on private property, no land development of private property, no jet boat rides, no rafting, no hiking, no vehicles, no camping and no access for human beings.

If you think my concerns are over-reaching, please reread the above reviews of how, under the umbrella of environmental concerns, private land came under the control of the government, resulting in the loss of property rights and the loss of property tax revenues to the county. This is the prime reason that our county is currently one of the poorest in the state.

Now is the time to be aware of this latest eco-movement under the umbrella of “climate change” and the destruction of property rights by the creation of a Refuge Eco-region.  My “environmental” position is that we must stop the erosion of reason, property rights and economic stability for Del Norte County.

Bruce Barber is a Gasquet resident.