That Mud Puddle Could Be Hazardous to Your Property Rights

Have you ever had a mud puddle in your yard?  Mud puddles are common in places where it rains a lot, but even in dry states like California they do occur.  If you’ve got a low spot you can have a mud puddle from just watering your lawn.

If this occurs you’d better go out in the dead of night when no one is looking and fill in that low spot, because your property rights are in jeopardy.

No kidding!  If an over-zealous representative from any one of five government agencies happens to drive by and sees standing water, or an over zealous environmentalist neighbor turns you in,  you could have yourself a wetland.  And, should you decide you want to build another room on your house or a garage or something, forget it.  Your permit will be denied.

It’s happening everywhere.  It happened to a man named Bill Lyons.  Lyons has himself a little ranch near San Francisco on land he reclaimed from desert. There is no water anywhere around, except what he pumps up from his well, but there is this low spot by the gate where the cows go in and out to pasture.  Not long ago a 22-year-old representative from the Fish & Wildlife agency happened to drive by and declared his place a wetland.  He’s spent over $50,000 fighting it so far, and it’s not over.

How may days out of the year would you have to have that mud puddle in your yard for it to be declared a wetland?  Seven days, and the water doesn’t have to be standing. If you can dig down eighteen inches and find moisture for seven days that’s all it takes.

The problem is that wetland is not a scientific term.  Wetland is a jurisdictional term, that grew out of section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  It is a product of infighting of the worst kind among five unelected bureaucracies: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Soil Conservation Service; and political pressure by environmentalists.

Up until 1987 these five agencies all kind of did their own thing.  They fought over territory with five different definitions.  Then they attempted to come up with one definition that would satisfy everyone.  Problem is the one they finally came up with is broad enough to encompass most of our landmass if strictly applied.  And, it is being strictly applied at the whim of anyone within the confines of these five agencies.

With a stroke of a pen, without any public discussion or comment, without a law ever being passed, millions of acres of land owned by people like you and me were rendered valueless, or drastically reduced in value.  If your land is affected, and you may not know until you try to improve it, you’re out of luck.

And here is the worst part.  Presently the government does not have to compensate you for classifying your land in this manner and rendering it useless.  That is not only wrong, it is completely flies in the face of the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution.

There are people who have their life savings tied up in good useable property they bought for their retirement who suddenly find their invest is useless.

Congressman Jimmy Hayes, a Democrat from Louisiana, has an excellent bill to correct this.  It’s H.R. 1330. and S. 1463.  It not only deserves your support.  Your rights as a property owner may depend on it.

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