Herger speech on property rights blasts "extreme" environmental organizations
U.S. Rep. Wally Herger (R-Chico) visited Truckee Friday to discuss the state of environmentalism in Northeastern California, and called the struggle for property rights a war against what he viewed as extremism.
“We need to see that this is a war – the extreme environmentalists have declared war on us,” said Herger.
A group of about 50 people attended the luncheon at Northwoods Restaurant in Tahoe Donner, which was sponsored by the California Association of Business and Property Owners, CABPRO. The organization is a Nevada County-based group that promotes property rights.
Herger’s district includes the 10 counties of Northeastern California, a land where the environment has been the focus of a struggle between two very different viewpoints.
CABPRO Field Director Pat Davison, who helped plan the event, said she was pleased with Herger’s talk.
“He’s from a ranching background, he’s seen all these changes and I think he just wanted to share his thoughts with some of us,” she said.
Herger gave a sweeping look at the history of the environmental movement in his speech, noting that abuses in the early part of the 20th century were corrected by diligent work in the 1960s and 1970s. He recalled that most of Truckee and Tahoe’s forests were severely clear cut in the past.
“There’s a lot of things we didn’t know about forestry back then we needed a balance,” he said. “Really I’d say that a very good job was done.”
But, Herger claimed, some environmental groups have now overstepped their bounds and are promoting their causes over the concerns of humans.
He cited such examples as farmers in far Northern California being refused water to irrigate their lands due to endangered fish species.
“These environmental groups have become extremists and now they are literally destroying the environment,” he said.
Herger noted the lack of controlled burns in the forests as another problem that, while well intentioned, was leading to danger.
“Forest fires used to be a very natural thing in our forest. Our forests are three to four times denser than they were historically.”
Herger also referred to the controversial Natural Heritage 2020 plan that Nevada County is undertaking, which would catalog plant and animal species on private lands for a survey.
“We see this 2020 program, where they literally want to come in and prevent you doing what you want on your own land,” he said.
The Natural Heritage 2020 plan has been proposed as a strictly willing seller/willing buyer business, where no private property owner will have their land taken unwillingly.
Congressman Herger said he was pleased to swing through Truckee during his recess.
“Any excuse to come here to beautiful Truckee and Nevada County is one that I welcome,” he said. “Every place is God’s country but it seems some places are a little more than others.”
Retiring Truckee Town Councilman Bob Drake was also honored at the CABPRO luncheon, receiving the organization’s “Freedom Fighter Award” for his stance on property rights.
“For a lot of us (Drake) was our hero and still is today,” said Davison.
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A fair amount of snow is expected for Truckee this week, and highs are forecast to linger around freezing until at least Friday.