It seems that landowners in the Russian River watershed are being threatened over alleged non-compliance with frost regulations that were approved in late December 2011 by the State Water Resources Control Board. Via Aquafornia, this report from the Ukiah Daily Journal describes a recent letter the California Department of Fish and Game sent to landowners:
The letter states that on Dec. 29, 2011, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) approved Frost Regulations, Title 23 section 862, requiring that “all water use for frost protection from the Russian River watershed between March 15 and May 15 must be done in accordance with a SWRCB approved Water Demand Management Program (WDMP).
“The WDMP’s purpose is to assist frost protection water users … to avoid stranding of salmonids during frost events,” the letter continues, adding that “WDMP applicants must consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Department of Fish and Game on developing the stream monitoring and risk assessment portions of the plan.”
The only problem? The Board is currently enjoined from enforcing the frost regulations referenced by the Department of Fish and Game, and yet the Department threatens the landowners as if the frost regulations are in fact enforceable. More from the Ukiah Daily Journal:
The letter makes no mention of the fact that on Feb. 2, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman granted “a stay of the enforcement of the regulation” until the case is decided at trial, which is currently scheduled for June 4.
The stay was granted after Rudy and Linda Light filed suit to stop the regulations, hiring the firm Carter, Momsen and Knight. After Light and other landowners received the letter from Fish and Game, the firm sent a letter demanding a retraction.
“You fraudulently fail to inform the recipients of your letter that regulation 862 has been stayed by order of court — it is impossible that you do not know that fact,” Attorney Jared Carter wrote, demanding that a retraction of the letter be immediately sent “to every person who received it,” and that if one is not sent, it is his intention to file an action.
A call to Fish and Game seeking comment from either Wilson or Manji was not returned Thursday.
Admittedly, I have not seen a copy of the Department’s letter, but the agency’s behavior here appears to be quite disturbing. If the Department wishes to earn and maintain the trust of the landowners and water users it seeks to regulate, it would be advisable for the Department to be truthful in its correspondence.