MOO TOWN NEWS
From the Pope To Exodus Of Ranching
By Judy Borello
As I commenced to write this article, the news just came that Pope Benedict XVI was elected the head of the Catholic Church. As Pope John Paul II was a Pole, Pope Benedict XVI is a German and saw the ravages of World War II very personally. Don't expect too much change from Pope Benedict XVI as he will follow Pope John Paul II's belief in church doctrine. By chance I mean the subjects of gay marriage, birth control, abortion, female priests, and the priests being able to marry.
When I attended Most Holy Redeemer Grammar School, the first Pope I remember was Pope Pius XII. The memories of those days evoke a lot of humor and laughter from my heart. For instance, during the 40 days of Lent, all of us would sacrifice something like candy, ice cream or movie shows and put the money you would have spent on these delights into a 5 x 7 envelope marked "Pope's Poor" with a picture of Pope Pius XII. You would bring your envelope to school once a week and the nun would count the money and give it back to you.
The first few weeks I did quite well, but as the weeks went on my exuberance waned. The envelope was growing lighter and lighter and I even got caught taking a dime or two out of my big sister Pat's envelope. She told me she wouldn't tell the nuns or my father if I did her chores for a week. I took the deal and always regretted it for not using my head. All I had to do was pay her back when we got our 50 cents a week allowance then I wouldn't have been enslaved to her. Of course she added chores that weren't even legal like sharpening her pencils, patting her white buff shoes twice a day with a little bag of chalk, and ironing her beloved pleated white sharkskin skirt-which was a real pain in the ass!
I broke away from the Catholic Church over the subject of birth control. I felt God gave us a brain to use and not just breed like animals hoping for the best. I still have a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church just as I do for many other religions. And so may the 265th Pope of the "Holy Flock" have a long and healthy reign.
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The Marin Resource Conservation District (RCD) Board met with State Water Quality Control regulators last week. It got quite heated as ranchers stated that the standards they proposed of 43 fecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml sample is unattainable and unrealistic (especially when recreational water is at 200 per 100 ml sample) and the ranchers on RCD board argued.
While the regulation from the Water Quality Control Board stated that feasibility and achievability is not a question when it comes to targets (such as 43). If the targets don't reflect the standards sets by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), then the EPA will disallow it. Alexis Strauss, division director of the EPA's District 9, told the Point Reyes Light that whatever target numbers are contained in the Tomales Bay Plan are set by the Regional Water Quality Control Board not by the EPA. So who's conning who?
Many of the ranchers and the common sense people of our community believe that DNA testing is needed to target the real problems polluting Tomales Bay. Without the testing, the Regional Water Quality Control Board is just spending excessive money and causing ranchers unnecessary pain and strain and creating brouhaha over something that they don't know what they're dealing with or the direction that it is headed.
Sally Gale, director of the RCD board and Chileno Valley rancher, said it all when she told the Point Reyes Light, "It's kind of like, [the Regional Board] is just saying 'trust us, don't worry about what the numbers say. And what we're saying is, if we're not supposed to worry about the numbers, then why have them at all?"
You add all of this into the equation of the county wanting to save agriculture in perpetuity and it becomes a joke (which isn't very funny to the ranchers).
1) Proposal to limit the size of homes on ranches while a lot on a 2 acre parcel of land can build a 4,000+ square foot home.
2) Septics within 600 feet of a stream will have to be removed.
3) Fence off all streams on a ranch which could be a mile or two.
4) Have to obtain a permit from the county if you want to change your crop or animal grazing.
5) Have to obtain a permit if a rancher wants to grade his own road.
6) Have to live by an unbalanced Endangered Species Act where a toad on your land could be somebody's mother.
7) The county's plan to put trails across ranches without ranchers' permission
And the list goes on and on!
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why ranchers in Marin County want to bale out of agriculture. On top of all the new rules and restrictions, the county along with other associations tries to keep the prices down on ranchland either by MALT giving the ranchers 40 percent of appraised value while Sonoma County offers 75 percent of appraised value to not develop and they say, "We want to preserve agriculture in perpetuity."
P.S. What the county will see in the future is an agricultural exodus of ranchers.
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