WE applaud efforts underway to question and confront the systematic, disproportionate institutional injustice of heavy handed regulatory over-reach and takings. VATOR ALERT: County staff has proposed imposing "Stormwater Special District Standards" countywide! If this happens (who can stop it?) the situation will become very much worse for everyone living in the rural county, with or without animals - and staff proposes adding more taxes to boot to give us the boot. These actions are destroying the county's rural character.
July 17, 2016
Last week we shared a post from a Whatcom County rural resident about her problem dealing with the State Department of Ecology (DOE). We shared Kathy and Ozzie’s post because we have heard rumblings from the county that DOE is expanding their compliance programs with real negative effects on rural lives. Well, Ozzie’s story has struck a chord in our county and beyond.
When a state agency comes knocking at your door it is intimidating. They come with the full weight of the state behind them. You can only hope whatever compliance they are seeking will not crush you.
Whatcom County rural land owners are finding there is no easy, quick, or inexpensive way to keep their pets on their acreage when the DOE comes knocking. They are being told they must comply with similar rules and regulations set for commercial farm lands. How does this play-out in the real world? Well, small rural land owners find it difficult to provide a space for their children’s 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) animals. Doesn’t sound right or reasonable, does it? A single horse owner, like Kathy, are rightly confused that her one, 28 year-old horse, now requires a 16 page farm plan, a pipeline and a frost free hydrant to remain grazing in his meadow, his home for the past 20+ years.
An update regarding the Department of Ecology and the enormous problem of us having one horse on 3 acres. We received the 16 page "Farm Plan", which means installing a pipeline and frost free hydrant from the house to the back of the field. I've attached the picture they have sent of our property. You can see from the picture what a huge problem this all is! I don't want to get into politics, but I want to bring up a few points. We have had a horse on this property for 20 years, but now the DOE can come in and say, nope, can't do this anymore. Why don't they have to prove there is a problem? Come test the water in the winter and see if it's contaminated. I'll guarantee you it won't be. We have to get away from the ridiculous restrictions that are coming down and deal with facts. There are consequences to all of this. Ozzie is 28, he has a year or 2 left, why can't we grant him that? We have not had any luck finding him a home. Kelly Park Stables told me how stressful it would be for Ozzie at his age to be moved to new surroundings. Sad.. PLEASE think before you vote or agree with thoughtless regulations. We are the county, our kids should be able to grow up with animals, go to 4-H, show their animals, but that is all going away because you have people that are going to tell us all how we are going to live. I've been told if we speak out on video, we will be targeted. We've also been told that people from the sustainable groups "look for compliance". wow, is this the United States of America any more? I think not in Whatcom County.
Liberty Road requested permission to share Kathy Cross's FB post. The sharing mechanism on FB doesn't work on a FB Page, so we've copy and pasted this post and pictures with their permission from a public sharing on Kathy Cross's FB page
[A recent Facebook entry] from Kathy: I awoke to this message this morning.. HEART BREAKING. Please keep sharing everything, we need to stop this.
Hi Kathy! I'm writing you regarding your situation with Ozzie, I wanted to thank you for fighting back! I just lost my farm for the same reason. I wasn't able to fight back, because I have just rented my farm for 15 years. Similar story as yours.. They claimed that the fecal bacterium levels were unacceptable and were possibly draining into Fazon Lake, and could harm all the children that swim in it. Btw, in 15 years I've never seen anyone, let alone children, swim in that lake. So we asked for water testing and proof of anything they were alleging, they shot back that they did not have to. Just as you explained in your video, we are responsible horse owners and do not wish to harm any wildlife or waterways, or children. But they offered no proof, or strangely, any potential solutions.. Just that we were not in compliance. My horse was humanely euthanized yesterday because of this, and my 3 boarders vacated, 2 were 4-H kids. My landlord now owns a beautiful, empty 5 acre farm, 5 stall barn, locking tack room, 40 tons of hay storage and an Olympic size, sand, lighted outdoor arena... That can no longer have horses on it or generate an income for him. It's heartbreaking for all of us, and if I can help out your cause in any way.. I would be happy to. Sincerely, Christy Hansen of the former Sierra Springs Rescue.
Thanks to everyone who showed to the “Save Ozzie” protest today. We were approximately 40 strong in number. We showed up prepared and informed. We showed up to ask the DOE questions. And, sadly I must report here that the answers given by the Regional Office Director, Doug Allen did not satisfy many there.
A ‘zero’ tolerance level for the potential to pollute is not humanly possible and is not healthy for the environment. As agents for the DOE, it is not a satisfactory answer that they are only enforcing what the Legislature has directed them to do. If the State and Local Legislative Representatives had this intent in mind, then they need to be contacted too.
These are the word of the Whatcom County citizen’s who attended the “SAVE Ozzie” protest. Be patient. Be strong. This type of bullying must stop and we must all come together to ensure that it does.
Thank You for showing your support for “Ozzie” and all Farm Pets…because pets lives matter too.
A number of supportive citizen videos were made which can be seen here.