The Great Environmental Land-Grab

Earlier in the week an assorted group of Hollywood actors joined a coalition of 70 environmental groups who held a press conference at Playa del Rey to warn us that California is in danger of losing 60% of its wetlands.

The essence of their message, and similar messages being delivered all across this land, is that developers are going to build Hiltons in the swamps, marshes and bogs, and birds will have no place to land.  “Say it isn’t so!”  Well, it isn’t.

When you hear the environmentalists bemoan the potential the loss of millions of acres of wetlands you must understand that this is land that hasn’t been wet to anyone’s knowledge since Noah’s flood, save for an occasional downpour.

When President Bush made his “No net loss of wetlands” statement he probably thought he was referring to wet lands. But a wetland doesn’t have to be wet.  At least not under our present definition.

Wetlands is not scientific term.  It’s a jurisdictional term that grew out of the haggling of entrench environmental zealots in five unelected bureaucracies.  And, it’s become more political with each passing year. So finally, in 1987 representatives from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Corps of Engineers and the Soil and Conservation Service got together and came up with a broad definition.  How broad is it?

It is broad enough to allow these zealots to cease you land, without paying for it, by making it impossible for you or anyone else to improve it.  They don’t care that the land isn’t wet.  To some of these folks man is the enemy and all development is bad and should be stopped.

Under the present definition your land can be declared a wetland if it meets one of these three criteria:

  1. There is some moisture at the surface, or to a dept of 18 inches below the service, for seven days out of the year.
  2. If your land contains certain types of plants that are common in real wet land.
  3. Contains certain types of soil.

Let’s face it, under the present definition you can lose your property rights if you water your lawn, and some people have.

Since 1987, hundreds of people have found that perfectly good land purchased for a retirement home, or as a hedge against inflation, suddenly has no value.

What the environmentalist are upset about is that there is a new manual that narrows the definition a bit. If the new manual is approved you would have to have moisture on your land for 21 of the 365 days in a year, and the plants, and the soil.

For the first time ever the public has a chance to comment on this new regulation.  The environmentalists are bashing Mr. Bush, but it’s a Democratic Congressman from Louisiana named Jimmy Hayes that has been leading the charge against this land-grab.  His bill, HR 1330 and S1463, would be faster and more effective than the new mantel.   There’s something that is really important in the Hayes Bill.  It says that if the government wants to take control of your land, it has to pay you for it.

Does that sound familiar?  It should.  It’s also in the 5th Amendment to our Constitution.

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