Friday, January 04, 2013

Feds Block New Mexico Man From Clearing Debris From Dry Stream Bed


    The federal government is at it again: fighting to prevent citizens from improving their own property under the alleged authority of the Clean Water Act of 1972.
    The latest target of tyranny is Peter and Francoise Smith, a retired couple from Lone Butte, New Mexico.
     Here’s the on ramp to the story as provided by the Santa Fe New Mexican:

Peter Smith said the 20 acres the couple bought in 2005 is near old ranch property in Lone Butte. An arroyo crosses about 1,000 feet of the property. Smith said he cleaned up glass bottles, beer cans and other trash from the arroyo, and periodically, he mowed back non-native, fast-growing salt cedar trees.
Smith said deep, eroded ruts in the arroyo threatened to flip over his tractor when he tried to mow. “So I went in and smoothed the ruts over,” he said.

    Gallina Arroyo is the name of the little stream that is giving the Smiths so much trouble.
    Imagine being the sort of person who takes pride in your property, keeping it clean, being a good steward of the land only to have agents of the federal government come in and accuse you of violating federal law and threatening to fine you for your efforts.
    “People dumped garbage down there, and there was a beetle infestation that took out a lot of the piñon,” Peter Smith said, as quoted by the Albuquerque Journal. He added that the some 600 dead trees he was removing were an undeniable fire hazard.
    “The salt cedar was getting to the point it was so thick you couldn’t walk through it. So I cleaned up as much as I could and tried to maintain it with a tractor and a Bush Hog,” Smith told the Albuquerque Journal.
     Now, imagine that the “law” the feds accuse you of breaking was designed to protect the “waters of the United States” and the dry stream bed you are clearing rarely has water flow through it at all.
    Irrelevant, says the Army Corps of Engineers. According to the federal and state inspectors, the Gallina Arroyo has a “significant nexus” with the Rio Grande River. In case you’re wondering, the Rio Grande River is about 25 miles from where the mostly dry creek runs through the Smith’s property.
    “Basically, it discharges, eventually, into the Rio Grande,” said William Oberle, project manager with the Corps’ Albuquerque District regulatory division, as quoted in the Albuquerque Journal. “It’s a tributary, to make it simple.”
    According to documents filed in the lawsuit, the Gallina Arroyo may be mostly dry and far removed from any significant waterway, but when water does flow through it, that water occasionally empties into other arroyos, that in turn empty into bigger arroyos that eventually empty into the Rio Grande.
    Lest anyone think Peter and Francoise are muckrakers and are out to “git the gubmint," comments made by Mr. Smith to the Santa Fe New Mexican make it clear that he respects the law. “The main point is that it is not the waters of the United States,” Smith said. “It would be different if it was a flowing river going through there, but the thing is dry.”


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Anonymous said...

This is nothing new for the feds. They did the same to a long time gravel and sand hauler also south of Santa Fe. The thought that any stream is a part of the navigational system is merely a ploy to stop any activity in water courses. They don't care if it is on your property or not. Columbus would have liked to know where all of these navigable streams were. He would have put them on his map. REMOVE THEIR FUNDING!