Posted on Freedom Advocates on March 24th 2005
Local UN Agenda 21 Meets Citizen Resistance. Feds driven out of County Fire Safe Council.
Last week a group of local freedom advocates drove the federal Fish and Wildlife into the dark corners of the County Planning Department when citizens took over the county Fire Safe Council. Various government agencies and NGO’s were attempting a back door imposition of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that would have effectively nationalized the use of privately held lands in the County. The new citizen chairman vows the purpose of the reformed council is to protect human life from fire risks by recognizing the vital role of respecting private property leading to the trust that such respect generates. New by-laws will be adopted to eliminate the “stakeholder” and “consensus” paradigm and replace it with “model organization” by-laws.
In May of 2000 a “stakeholder” council was formed. Charter members included the federal Department of the Interior – U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Santa Cruz County Planning Department, Congressman Sam Farr’s office, the Sierra Club, the Native Plant Society, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), the CountyÂ’s Fire Chiefs, City Planning Departments, Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District, Cities of Santa Cruz County and the Community Action Board. The Council was called the Fire Safe Council.
The Council undertook an effort to impose the HCP to cover the county of Santa Cruz. No similar imposition of an HCP has ever been attempted anywhere in the United States.
The HCP would require landowners and rural or quasi rural homeowners to agree to a Best Management Practice (BMP) in the event of any active use of the property if that use is more than 30 feet from their home. A committee, meeting without making a record and without public notice, established a separate BMP for dozens of plant, animal and bug species. The HCP would be imposed on any parcel that might be able to possess habitat conditions suitable for any one of these species. Management authority over all land use and land management decisions on affected parcels would transfer to the County and City Planning Departments. The Planning Departments would require and monitor compliance with the detailed, one-size-fits-all, PMB.
A mounting citizen involvement highlighted the matter as an attack on private property, freedom and the Constitution. As the process continued it became apparent that the dangerous fire fuel load that affects much of the forested areas in the County would become severely worsened by imposing the HCP.
In November 2001 Amelia Orton-Palmer the Fish and Wildlife representative acknowledged that the BMP did not reflect a “best” approach to land management. In December the Council Chair, Aptos LaSelva Fire Chief Gary Smith, was removed as Chairperson. By this time, government agency representatives and U.N. sanctioned Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) were noticeably absent as citizen participation had begun to rise and the apparent ruse began to surface.
At the January 31st 2002 meeting Martha Deforest was elected Chairperson at a meeting with the largest attendance yet as citizen involvement grew significantly. DeForest is a San Lorenzo Valley resident whose homeowner insurance was cancelled because of mountain fire risks.
A committee was established to compose new by-laws to replace the “consensus” based U.N. Agenda 21 model that had been in effect. The original By-Laws reflected no accountability to elected officials even though enormous regulations were being imposed on the community. Citizens argued that the stakeholder approach did not respect people’s unalienable rights, thereby undermining trust and mutual collaboration. Also the citizens contended that a consensus process implements a predetermined outcome under the guise of “concern” by government agencies, NGO’s and grant recipients. Citizens allege that this process represents a deceptive conflict of interest.
DeForest emphasized that the driving mission of the new Fire Safe Council will be the protection of human life. The citizen participants’ input centered on the importance of respecting individual people and their property in order to achieve that mission.
CDF Chief Steve Wert announced that the fire chiefs were no longer engaged with the feds or the HCP. He added that the HCP process would continue. It is now in the hands of the County Planning Department and the federal Fish and Wildlife Department.