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November 2000

Mootown News - Froggie Went A'Courting

By Judy Borello

There's been a brouhaha in Point Reyes Station over "The Frog Pond" on Ann Dick's property. I personally lived across the street from this "pond" for 12 years, and I loved the frogs' synchronization -- it was like they were being conducted as a chorus from a very talented maestro! They would start all together and stop all together at one time.

From my understanding, Ann Dick is dividing or has divided the land into separate lots so that her three daughters can build or sell the legal lots. One of the daughter's husbands, Mark Reano, last month graded and filled a portion of the acreage. The family contends that blocked drainage underneath Mesa Road has caused the supposed wet land frog habitat. Neighbors and environmentalists are trying to get a seasonal wetland protected by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent future construction from filling in the so-called "frog pond."

What I have a problem with is the unfairness to the family and their land use rights and the possibility of losing a lot of money over this. If the neighbors and environmentalists love the frog pond so much, they should buy the lot from the family. The Giacomini ranch was bought for wetlands; so should Ann Dick's family property be compensated for their land becoming a "wetland." I'm sure the neighbors wouldn't like the situation in reverse if, all of a sudden, according to the rules they could build a second unit and have been paying taxes on their land for years. Then the situation comes to the fore because their neighbors decide their backyard is filled with snakes, frogs, and red-legged toads and they found out that they not only couldn't build a second unit but (let's take it a step further) their neighbors and environmentalists want their houses torn down because of these little creatures. My point is that if the neighbors want Ann Dick to just sit on a piece of property and pay taxes on it because they love the frogs, they should put their money where their mouth is and buy it.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing critical habitat for the red-legged frog. Over 5.4 million acres are being designated for the frogs' habitat. Forty percent of the land designated is in public ownership and 60 percent is in private ownership. Point Reyes is in Unit 12 and encompasses 208,840 acres; 48 percent of this unit is in private hands. Over half of Marin County is in public land and raises the question why private land is being involved. Many of the ranches would be in a "Frog Zone" and God knows how that could impact them through more regulations and restrictions such as irrigating vineyards, tractoring out brush, cutting grass, and so on. If it wasn't for the ranchers, there wouldn't be a habitat for anything -- they are the true stewards of the land, before the park and environmentalists even took up residence here. If the ranches are going to be impacted to the point where they can't do business at a reasonable net gain, they will pull out and they, more than any of us, deserve to stay for the sole reason that West Marin is beautiful due to their heartfelt commitment to the land for generations. I feel the government or environmental agencies should compensate the ranchers for taking care of a wildlife habitat instead of taking more rights away from them.

If the private homeowners couldn't mow their grass or use a garden hose, maybe they'd get the message of how these zones effect others.

I feel that what is being done to the ranchers is the same thing that happened to the American Indian -- they got dumped because of gold. Now we are being offed because of environmental gold, which we ranchers have been protecting for years without the supposed "help" of others.

P.S. Don't forget to vote on election day and, nothing against any other candidates, but it would be an honor to the Pozzi family to still vote for Ed Pozzi who gave years of service on the Resource Conservation District Board.

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