County commissioners Tuesday passed a resolution asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore a stream flow to the Patch of Heaven Church Camp in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and compensate the owners for flood harm.
Victor and Annette Fuentes purchased 40 acres of private house at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in 2007 from Ron Metheny for $ 500,000 and turned it into a church camp. They spent $ 500,000 to build a dining room, 3 cabins and bunkhouses. The house had a babbling brook running by way of it, producing an oasis in the desert.
Two years later, the fish and wildlife service outlined plans to reroute a channel operating through their home to its original course, which would also help the endangered speckled dace. In December 2010, 3 and a half inches of rain damaged restoration projects and flooded the church camp.
The Nevada Policy Investigation Institute’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation filed suit against the fish and wildlife service in January 2012.
NPRI lawyer Joe Becker stated they sued for a federal taking of vested water rights, which is being heard in the Federal Court of Claims. They also filed suit for workout of religion in U.S. district court and filed suit in state court against refuge manager Sharon McKelvey. That has been appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Becker mentioned the NPRI currently received depositions from county officials in support of their case, the resolution just puts the county on record the fish and wildlife service violated county regulations. The county serves as flood plain administrator. The suit already claims violations of the Federal Emergency Management Act.
“The county said you violated an ordinance to stop flooding to residents of Nye County,” Becker mentioned.
County officials went beyond just commenting on the project in the wording of the resolution. The county resolution notes the fish and wildlife service is just one particular of the federal entities that manage 98 % of land in the county.
“Nye County recognizes that this overwhelming percentage of federally controlled land contributes to an environment of federal overreach and abuse of private home rights and leads to the diminishment of due process and rights granted to Nye County’s residents under the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights and Nevada Constitution,” the resolution states.
It accuses the fish and wildlife service of engaging in a prolonged work to expand land beneath its handle at the refuge, by way of private land purchases and governmental land transfers in an attempt to expand its sphere of influence and expand the refuge boundaries. It said the environmental effect statement on the stream rerouting gave brief shrift to the effects on Nye County residents and property owners living on the refuge.
The workout of religion claim stems from the reality rerouting the steam impacted the church camp’s capability to conduct baptisms, as properly as causing meadows and trees to die. The county resolution states the fish and wildlife service didn’t acquire a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to the stream diversion and wetland destruction as required by the Clean Water Act.
“This blatant disregard for following statutorily necessary processes and permits led the refuge to construct an ill-conceived, unsupervised and inadequately reviewed alter in stream channels and storm water flow paths,” the resolution states.
The flood occurred two weeks following refuge officials completed the stream flow diversions, overflowing the channel and causing water to flood by means of the center of the church camp, resulting in far more than $ 85,000 in home damage.
“Whereas the property that the church camp owns has a vested surface water appropriate and that the diversion of this stream has resulted in a taking of this water appropriate by the federal government,” the resolution states.
Commissioner Lorinda Wichman thanked Commissioner Donna Cox for marshaling the resolution through the county for approval.