February 1, 2011

Federal funding for a beetle that doesn't need it: your taxpayer dollars at work (Part 1)

By Federal funding for a beetle that doesn't need it: your taxpayer dollars at work (Part 1)

Author: Brandon Middleton

Despite its duty to use federal dollars responsibly and efficiently, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service continues to devote its taxpayer resources towards restricting development on Bob Slobe's property in North Sacramento.  The Service's land use restrictions are based purportedly on the need to protect the valley elderberry longhorn beetle under the Endangered Species Act, yet the agency has recognized that the beetle does not require federal protection.

Since the Service is empowered to act under the Endangered Species Act, you would think the Service would use its regulatory authority only for species that are actually endangered.  But apparently the agency feels it can waste its time and resources on a healthy species–and who cares about the unnecessary costs incurred by landowners like Bob Slobe?!?!

In this video, I discuss the absurdity of the Service's VELB restrictions, and Bob Slobe expresses his frustration over how the Service has effectively taken his land from him:


 

As Bob mentions, he has to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of his property, and is required to clean up for others who trespass and litter there without fear of repercussion.  Bob of course receives nothing in exchange for his clean up costs–he can't even use his property in a beneficial manner due to VELB critical habitat restrictions.

Yet as Bob is unfairly forced to maintain his property strictly as VELB habitat and spends countless time and money towards this effort, destruction of VELB habitat and outright pollution goes unnoticed a stone's throw away.

In fact, the American River Parkway (a public park which is adjacent to Bob Slobe's property and is located just north of downtown Sacramento) has turned into a squatters' paradise in recent years.

Vagrants and others view the Parkway as a dump, and state and local officials don't seem to care about the pollution that is occurring.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for example, seems keenly interested in forcing Bob Slobe to maintain his property as pristine VELB habitat–but the Service turns a blind eye when it comes to American River Parkway squatters using elderberry bushes as firewood.

Here is the American River Parkway, what the County of Sacramento describes as the "jewel of Sacramento." (photos taken by Bob Slobe):

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That's a jewel that doesn't quite sparkle, but I digress.  The point here is that the government and the Service in particular do everything in their power to restrict the rights of private property owners, even when the restrictions are not based on sound science or fair policy.

But while people like Bob Slobe have to pay outrageous costs to protect a beetle that doesn't actually require regulatory protection, and taxpayers fund this unnecessary oversight, the government can't keep its own property in decent condition.  Perhaps someone should sue the County of Sacramento for allowing such environmental destruction in a public park.  In the case of the Service, the agency should stop treating polluters better than private property owners like Bob Slobe, who are actually good stewards of the land.

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