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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

October, 2007



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"Mostly Tricks - No Treats"
by Judy Borello (Moo Town News)

With Marin County being held in 82.5% public land, (Federal, State or County- Free of taxes) that leaves only 17.5% held in the private sector it's no wonder why Marin County is so expensive? But they (The County) still want more land in open-space! We're being "enviro-ed'' to death!
When the Farm Bureau met with Steve Kinsey, our supervisor, he was asked why are all these trails put on private ag lands? His response was "I like to hike." Mike Gale, Farm Bureau president, retorted, "I like to hike too, but...?" The point is, with over 80% of the County in open-space parks, why get so greedy that you want to stomp through private land? Pretty soon it will be allowed that the public can hike through your backyards.

The rancher has much more to do than patrol his ranch constantly cleaning up dog pooh, horsey pies and people's garbage -- and these are the minor effects of the public intrusion. There's the insurance liability, which is very costly, plus the dangers of a child running off the trail and getting gored by a bull, the hazards of fire or the spread of disease brought in by tourists on the soles of their shoes from other countries to contaminate our grass (which the cows eat -- remember Hoof and Mouth Disease!). There's a whole myriad of other catastrophes that can happen, such as poaching or a dog getting under the fence and chasing or killing our calves and lambs and the list goes on and on.

The person who thought this up should be ousted. The lack of common sense and insensitivity causes ranchers inconceivable hardships. Especially when over 80% of the County belongs to the public, already with lots of trails. You talk about over-reaching and "greeding' out at the expense of others! No wonder some of the ranchers want to leave and go Oregon or Nevada where they feel more secure to do what they do best- be Agriculturists and be left in peace.

The "new" rules and regulations are what is going to destroy agriculture. It's not the size of the ranch house(s). I take issue with calling a home over 4,000 sq. ft. a "trophy home", "McMansion", or a "Starter Castle", especially when it's on an 800 acre ranch where no one even sees it unless they trespass. It's an insult to an rancher, who has worked hard all their lives on his or her own land to be told what kind of house in square footage is allocated, especially when Kentfield, Tiburon, Belvedere, Novato, San Rafael can have small lots (not even an acre) that hold 6,000+ sq. ft. houses.

I do not agree with Wade Holland or rancher Sally Gale who keep perpetuating the myth that a large home will make ranching or farming unsustainable. I differ with Sally and take issue with her, when she lives in a 4,000 sq. ft. beautiful Victorian home but doesn't want to let another rancher share the same dream. Sally calls 'starter castles' houses smaller than her own! She states in the West Marin Citizen, "that the ranchers should form a critical mass to take on new regulations that come in the future". Well, Sally we're in critical mass right now (over 90% of the ranchers) to make sure the County doesn't devaluate our ranchland with the conditions on house size and caps. So where are you?

The "true" environmentalist is the rancher. Before the word environmentalist was ever coined, the ranchers were known as "the stewards of the land", taking care of the land and growing our food. Some of the ranchers here can trace their families back over 120 years. They were here in West Marin doing their agriculture very well, thank you, before the present crop of those wanting to hogtie agriculture. There would be no Pt. Reyes National Seashore or all the other open space beauty you enjoy out here if it were not for the ranches. What aggravates me is the new people that move out here like they "discovered" our beautiful place and then want to save it -- with no respect for the history that made it what it is and then join groups and follow the bouncing the ball trying to save it from the ranchers themselves. Good grief, get a clue!

When the County started the renewal of its countywide plan to discuss agriculture, they had everybody but a rancher on it. Doesn't make much sense does it? That's probably why the County maps were so flawed. The Strong Report (where the County gathered all their information) is so flawed that the ranchers are going to dispute its findings along with County-wide Plan.

The ranchers day is never done, even with help, there is hardly ever any slack time between calving and lambing. They can be up all night trying to help out cows and ewes that have trouble birthing. Over years, I've seen a lot of good energy wasted because of the time (a colossal amount) to try to right the wrongs that the County or misguided "enviros" perpetually lay on them.

The County players get paid for their job bashing the ranchers. To the "enviros," it is a hobby with gratis lawyers; while the ranchers defending themselves take time away from their business without pay. Meanwhile, the ranch could be suffering because of neglect and, the worst of all, we have to hire high-priced lawyers to protect ourselves. The powers that be sip our wine and eat our cheese while they gleefully screw us!

P.S. Many thanks to Mike Gale our Marin County Farm Bureau President for not only holding the line but for being a first class gentleman, And Nancy Gates, who is the work-horse of the organization and a smart one too!




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