Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Water rights fight--farmer regrets selling to an open space trust
Half Moon Bay Review ^ | July 24, 002 | Nicole A. Freeling

Posted on 07/29/2002 10:16:23 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer

Half Moon Bay farmer Aldo Giusti says he's given up farming a 100-acre field for lack of water.

Water rights fight

By Nicole A. Freeling-Half Moon Bay Review--Photos by Mark Jordan

Since the Civil War, the fields surrounding the Johnston Ranch have been kept green in the summer by two old sets of wooden planks dropped into Arroyo Leon to form reservoirs.

But this year, under an edict to protect endangered salmon, the dams remain open - and instead of leafy rows of mustard greens and brussels sprouts, there are acres of mostly unplanted dirt.

The California Department of Fish and Game and the property's owner, the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), say leaving the dams open is necessary to protect critical populations of steelhead salmon juveniles, which travel the creek to get to the ocean from spawning grounds high in the watershed.

But the Giusti family, which has farmed the property for more than 50 years, says it is a case of farmer versus fish.

"That dam is at least 70 percent of our water," said 73-year-old Aldo Guisti, who bought the farm when he was 21. He sold it to POST four years ago, but continues to lease it. "If they take away our water, they take away our farm."

"The (farmers) need the water when it is dry, but that is also when the steelhead need to move through there," Rob Floerke, Fish and Game's central coast manager, said.

"Once those boards (in the dam) are dropped, it is a very dangerous structure" for the fish, he said.

Giusti says 105 of the 185 acres he usually plants remain fallow this year as the farmers search for an alternate source of water.

He is trying to place two wells on the property, which he said will be enough to sustain his existing 80 acres - if he's lucky. "It is a gamble," he said.

POST has given Giusti Farms another 70 acres to plant at Purissima Farms, across the highway from the Johnston Ranch, where there is plenty of water.

"Economically, we are very fortunate. The farm will be fine," Aldo's son John, who has grown up on the farm, said.

"But when you have been in this business all your life, it is more than economics. You develop an emotional connection to the land. My father has given his life to make this land productive," he said.

For the last several years, Fish and Game has reluctantly agreed to allow the Giustis to dam the creek.

In March of this year, however, the department informed the Giustis they would not get a permit.

Then in June, after entreaties from the Giustis and the San Mateo County Farm Bureau, the department granted the farmers permission to close one of the two dams, with the condition that they complete an environmental review and allow at least 90 gallons per minute to flow through.

An environmental review would take at least several months, however, and, according to the Giustis, it would be impossible to allow that much water over the dam. They elected to keep the dam open.

The situation is complicated by the fact that, while the Giustis farm the land, the owner is POST, which acquired it, in part, with state conservation funds.

"It is not about our views on these dams. It is about the law," POST President Audrey Rust said.

"If you have a situation where an endangered species is going to be killed or harmed, you have to do something."

There is a long-term solution, one which everyone from farmers to conservation groups seem to agree would help farmers and fish share the water.

It involves the creation of so-called offstream impoundments - ponds to which water is diverted during the rainy winter months. These can be drained in the summer without disrupting the streams.

Creating such reservoirs would cost $1.2 to $1.8 million according to POST. It would be a time-consuming process with thorny permitting issues.

But it could save the Johnston Ranch fields from going permanently fallow.

POST is in the process of seeking conservation grants to fund such an effort. Rust said she believes such a project is fundable.

The Giustis are also applying for grants to create the reservoirs, from conservation funds available in the new farm bill. (See story, Page 3A.)

Jack Olsen of the San Mateo County Farm Bureau, which is helping in the effort, said it would be several years before a shovel ever hits the ground on the project.

For the Giustis, that is a long time to wait.

"This is a day-to-day business," Ed Giusti said. "People don't understand what it is like to be a farmer. By the time they finally get this process complete, the guy's out of business."

The Giustis also point out that an offstream impoundment would only water about 50 acres, much less than the dam provides.

But many close to the situation say it could be a template for solving similar resource battles.

"It relieves the rivers when they are flashing, as opposed to damming them when water is low and situation critical for everyone," Floerke said.

TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; US: California
KEYWORDS: california; coastdairies; endangeredspecies; enviralists; green; landgrab; landtrusts; openspace; streamimpoundments; waterrights
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-45 next last
Farmers are being cast off the central coast of California in alarming numbers. The hot zone right now is the coast between Davenport, in Santa Cruz County and Half Moon Bay, in San Mateo County. We are seeing farmers who's families have farmed on the coast for the last 50 to 150 years driven off by a colusion of land trust groups and the Deparment of Fish and Game. F&G is denying permits and citing farmers who do not fence off streams and ponds to prevent cattle from accessing them. Of course the cost of fencing the streambeds is prohibitive and most farmers can't afford to do it.
1 posted on 07/29/2002 10:16:23 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: farmfriend; Carry_Okie; *landgrab; *Green; *Enviralists; **California
2 posted on 07/29/2002 10:18:54 PM PDT by hedgetrimmer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hedgetrimmer
Humboldt County dammed Freshwater creek for years as a swiming hole for the kids then 2 years ago F&G said it was "harming" the Salmon. The locals raised h_ll and this year they allowed the dam provided a fish ladder was installed. The community with the help of UC Humboldt devised a ladder and F&G approved and the pond is full. This normally takes years but the cry of "IT'S FOR THE KIDS" made them retreat some what.
3 posted on 07/29/2002 10:34:44 PM PDT by tubebender
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: madfly
4 posted on 07/29/2002 10:56:36 PM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: hedgetrimmer
Well, let's look at some of their handiwork, shall we? The white stuff you see in the following photo is water hemlock. It is a poisonous weed from the Middle East. The pollen causes birth defects. The quail that eat the fruit don't die, but the bobcats that eat them do. There are thousands of tons of it thanks to the Coastal Conservancy and the Pacific Land Trust.

All images in this post are copyright by Mark Edward Vande Pol. No retransmission reprinting or reuse without written authorization. Please, I want to use these for an article.

Here is what they want to save:

Here is what they are doing to it.
They are "preserving" it.
The highlighted areas are hemlock.
Doesn't it look a little rugged for weeding?

Here is more. Isn't it pretty?
It's mixed in with tick infested dwarf coyote brush, bush lupines, rare wildflowers, and poison oak.
Who's going to go get those weeds now?

And more right above Scott Creek, the principle salmon stream in the area. The clear area is where cattle graze...

And here's what happens when it really gets going.
It's the whole hillside above that building.
The seed lasts at least ten years. Is this an environmental impact?
Where are the air quality authorities?

Let's hear it for our environmental heroes, and their appropriately landscaped sign!

5 posted on 07/29/2002 11:29:50 PM PDT by Carry_Okie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Libertarianize the GOP
Now here is what the farms do. They are weed buffers that protect nature from the weeds along the State Highway. If farmers got paid for weed control, would they be broke? Would land use be organized differently?

Would this... preferable to this?

or this (the red stuff in the foreground is thistle)...

or this?

Want an alternative?

6 posted on 07/29/2002 11:48:44 PM PDT by Carry_Okie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Carry_Okie
Fabulous pictures. I was livid when I heard about Coast Dairies getting shut down mostly in the self-interest of a local marxist politician, Mardi Wormhoudt.

Thanks for posting them.

I wonder who else is in trouble with the F&G and land grabbing politicians up there?
7 posted on 07/30/2002 7:06:23 AM PDT by hedgetrimmer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: madfly; Free the USA; seamole; Ernest_at_the_Beach; freefly; expose; .30Carbine; ...
Morning BUMP
8 posted on 07/30/2002 7:16:43 AM PDT by hedgetrimmer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: hedgetrimmer
9 posted on 07/30/2002 7:23:04 AM PDT by Free the USA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: hedgetrimmer
Yup, Wilder Ranch is a disaster. Thanks to the environmental preservationists letting those farms "go back to Nature" we have thousands of tons of poison in the environment. When I first saw those beautiful little farms so horribly destroyed, when I saw the bush lupines slowly overwhelmed, I was screaming in my car and bangning the steering wheel. Now they plow the fields annually because they don't know what else to do. They plow the fields, but they don't grow any crops. They're destroying the topsoil.

It's pathetic. I get so damned mad at these idiots I could just strangle them. They have no idea how it could have worked.
10 posted on 07/30/2002 7:29:36 AM PDT by Carry_Okie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Carry_Okie
Maybe a petition could be put together to get them to put a farmer on the wilder ranch and bring it back to fruitfullness. Certainly that would be a good education for the county kids, a working productive farm they could visit.
11 posted on 07/30/2002 7:32:06 AM PDT by hedgetrimmer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: hedgetrimmer
Personally, I think we should FReep the board of stuporviziers. We should show up in bunny suits and breather masks with black gloves and garbage bags of hemlock.

"What are YOU going to do about it, Mardi? The pollen causes birth defects. It's been known for thousands of years that it poisons water. YOU IDIOTS banned spraying thinking you were protecting water quality even though the weeds are more poisonous than the spray. Now County mowers are smearing it into every watershed."

"You did this Mardi, ARE YOU GOING TO PULL IT??? "

Outside the building reconvene hold up the weeds and yell, "POISON, POISON, POISON..."

Old guys in bunny suits waving weeds in flower. It's a great photo op.

It's not like hemlock poisoning in watersheds is new. If they had gone to church on Sunday they would have known better:

"DEU 29:18 Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;"

"REV 8:11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and wormwood made the waters bitter, and the men died."

We should rename her Mardi Wormwood.
12 posted on 07/30/2002 7:55:46 AM PDT by Carry_Okie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Stand Watch Listen; expose; Fish out of Water; 4Freedom; 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; Ace2U; ...
13 posted on 07/30/2002 7:58:22 AM PDT by madfly
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: hedgetrimmer
I should add that hemlock has caused a number of deaths among children. They like to use the hollow stalks as pea shooters. They chew on them. It makes their mouths numb. Down they go in respiratory arrest.

It looks a lot like Queen Anne's Lace. It's growing in the environmental pond at Loma Prieta Elementary School.

Yes, I told them. They didn't do anything about it.
14 posted on 07/30/2002 7:59:05 AM PDT by Carry_Okie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Carry_Okie
I like the way you think :-). It'd be great to get a little demo going at the board meeting. Shake 'em up a bit.
15 posted on 07/30/2002 8:03:17 AM PDT by hedgetrimmer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: madfly
Thanks for the ping!

Here we go again...

16 posted on 07/30/2002 8:03:33 AM PDT by dixiechick2000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Carry_Okie; madfly
They're destroying the topsoil.

Speaking of the topsoil, what are the fish going to do when the fields dry up and blow into the creek and choke it with silt?

17 posted on 07/30/2002 8:05:21 AM PDT by StriperSniper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Carry_Okie
Do you know the Russian word for Wormwood?

It's Chernobyl'. Today's trivia.
18 posted on 07/30/2002 8:06:43 AM PDT by HiJinx
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: madfly
19 posted on 07/30/2002 8:19:40 AM PDT by E.G.C.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: hedgetrimmer; Lit-O-Lady; Free Vulcan
Lesson Learned: Do Not get sucked into 'selling' your land to one of these El Creepo organizations. It looks like a he!! of a deal on paper,,, they give you the money, you get to keep your land.
20 posted on 07/30/2002 8:22:43 AM PDT by Iowa Granny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-45 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson