CAO Reflects Concessions For AG, Ignores Harmful Impacts / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

whatcom hawk
Sunday, March 20, 2016  Wendy Harris

The greatest abuses by the administrative staff in revising the CAO were saved for the sacred cow. Literally.

How bad is it when the staff refused to adopt the legal requirements of a state statute because it will reflect unfavorably on AG? Did you know that critical aquifier recharge areas have implications for in stream flow for fish and wildlife, and accordingly, tribal treaty rights? Of course not, because the staff deliberately left out that section in the CAO , although it is a legal requirement and the county was advised to fix this in the 2005 BAS report. Then there was no reference to the dangerous nitrate contamination in ground wells, and refusal to accept all the science that was submitted by committee members.

Cliff Strong actually tried to skip over the farm plan provisions completely, but received too much pressure from committee members. However, on the day the citizen committee met, there was no quorum and there were an even number of environmentalists and conservatives so no agreement was reached, and Cliff refused to reschedule the meeting. I would tell you to read the committee notes or listen to the audio, but there were none.

And here is something more symbolic, but very telling. Formerly, farm plans were categorized as low, moderate or heavy impact. Cliff is removing those terms and calling the farms plans 1, 2 or 3 to avoid “value loaded” words. Now simply quantifying the impacts for agricultural activities is “value loaded.”? And apparently that requires protection before other values like transparency and accountability.

I really hope people start getting involved in this process because these are all important matters.

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