Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ranchers GRAPple with regs at Redding meeting

Dozens of north state ranchers and local leaders told state water board officials today that their plan to regulate livestock grazing is unnecessary.

Ranchers complained that the State Water Resources Control Board effort to impose rules governing grazing near streams lacks any scientific finding that the practice has been responsible for polluting streams. They said the agency's process for developing its Grazing Regulatory Action Project is flawed, that the board isn't gathering enough input from affected ranchers and is ignoring all the measures take to keep water clean and keep their animals away from streams.

This morning's meeting drew a packed house to the Redding City Council chambers, and state officials planned another meeting for this afternoon to handle the overflow crowd. The information-gathering "listening session" was one of three around the state that were planned for this month. A similar gathering was held last week in San Luis Obispo and another meeting is planned later in the month in bishop.

In the photos, from the top: Ben Letton (left) of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in Redding talks with Kirk Wilbur of the California Cattlemen's Association before the meeting; A big crowd stands in line to sign in after having to RSVP to attend the meeting; Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko (right) talks with Rick Roberti of the Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District; and (from left) Vicky Whitney, the water board's deputy director for water quality, makes a presentation as Esther Tracy of the water board and Matt St. John of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board listen.

What was Bosenko doing there? He essentially told the regulators to focus on the water pollution from illegal marijuana grows and leave the farmers and ranchers alone.

My complete story on this issue will be up at CapitalPress.com soon.

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