Thursday, October 29, 2009

Walk # 302: Score One For The Deer!!--the Butte County 2030 Plan

Took my walk earlier this morning, reflecting on a Butte County General Plan 2030 meeting that I attended last night. Seems that Concow/Yankee Hill residents are in an uproar over the County General Plan--which changes most of this wilderness area from "Foothills Recreation" status to "Foothills Conservation" status.

Essentially, the County plan is for "no growth" for the Foothills. Hooray!

Others don't see it that way. Changing to a "conservation status" means that new lot sizes need to be at least 20 acres. If not 40. Much of the higher elevations got "timberland conservation" status, which means parcels need to be sold in 120 acre bits.

On top of this, there is a "deer migratory overlay" which affects lot status. The deer migrate from the higher elevations to the Foothills in the winter. In fact, my 3 acres is in "critical winter migratory habitat"--which means that no more lots will be sold less than 20 to 40 acres. That prices most folks out of the Foothills market. Existing lots are exempt.

Given that we are in critical deer migratory habitat, my neighbors who have surrounded their 3-5 acres with Dachau type fences (like the photo above), are building against the spirit of the region. They restrict movement and browsing of the deer.

Back to the meeting. Seventy Five pissed off people. Not the grungy rednecks I expected, but the pot-bellied landowner class showed up. They are against the provisions of subdividing their property. One Rancher got up to talk about how his family has owned his property since 1900. He read a statement against the "Migratory Deer Overlay" stating that the deer population are dwindling because of the Endangered Species Act...and that we have too many bear and mountain lion in this area.

The Auditorium erupted in applause. Except me. I hollered out "How many parcels are you planning on selling from your property?". Silence.

I'm not amongst friendlies....better keep my mouth shut.

Another elderly lady asked: "Why do we need the deer?".

I didn't keep my mouth shut--and hollered out: "The deer were here first". I am quickly becoming persona-non-grata in this auditorium. The people sitting next to me move a couple of seats away. A landowner in a baseball cap stares at me with menace in his eyes.

After the meeting I talked with a couple of folks who like the deer overlay, and saw the whole thing as a paranoid reactionary uprising by disgruntled landowners. "That is why I moved here--to have my 20 acres of deer habitat", one thirty something female told me.

In this case, the deer are winning over property rights. Hooray for Butte County!

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