Farming in Callao

Thursday, November 30, 2006

White Pine County land bill -- just add water

The Las Vegas Review-Journal published a news story today titled, "WHITE PINE COUNTY: County may pull support from lands bill." Why would the White Pine County Commission withhold support from the White Pine County bill? Water, and the study thereof. They want BARCASS 2, a follow up study to fill in the gaps BARCASS 1 was never intended to investigate.

BARCASS 2 would study the impacts of SNWA's proposed water withdrawal scheme. That would be nice to know. Some even think it is vital. Hence WPC Commission's lack of support for the WPC bill, which otherwise has many positive aspects the county wants. They think the water study is that important.

Ironically, it was water in Clark County, home of Las Vegas, that was the last straw. The WPC bill was loaded with Clark County water projects totaling almost $1 billion, including some that would encourage the out-of-control growth driving the pipeline. BARCASS 2 would cost no more than $20 million.

This is a good opportunity to write the Utah Congressional delegation asking them to support efforts to secure BARCASS 2 authorization and funding.

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
United States Senate
104 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4402
DC Phone: 202-224-5251
DC Fax: 202-224-6331
Email Address:

The Honorable Robert F. Bennett
United States Senate
431 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4403
DC Phone: 202-224-5444
DC Fax: 202-228-1168
Email Address:

The Honorable Rob Bishop
United States House of Representatives
124 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4401
DC Phone: 202-225-0453
DC Fax: 202-225-5857
Email Address:

The Honorable James D. Matheson
United States House of Representatives
1222 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4402
DC Phone: 202-225-3011
DC Fax: 202-225-5638
Email Address:

The Honorable Christopher Cannon
United States House of Representatives
2436 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4403
DC Phone: 202-225-7751
DC Fax: 202-225-5629
Email Address:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another NV water grab = a web site dedicated to fighting the Mesquite water grab into Arizona. Different water grab from ours but the same kind of thirsty, arrogant developers seeking water for growth's sake --and the same kind of tough grass roots resistance.

Wind River Resources is affiliated with Nevada developers who want to drill on a small parcel of land they own near Beaver Dam, Arizona and pump approximately 4.5 billion gallons of water annually to Virgin Valley Water District in Mesquite, Nevada. This proposal is before the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).

Wind River Resources claims the impact of pumping water to Nevada will be minimal. But their application quotes an expert report: “We believe the Muddy Creek Formation [at the Beaver Dam Wash] in the Virgin River Valley aquifer system is highly susceptible to subsidence.”

Besides the risk of desiccation and subsidence, the people near Beaver Dam risk arsenic contamination of their water. By pumping in clean Arizona water, Mesquite's arsenic-laden water will be diluted, without having to build a water treatment plant. But part of the plan is to flush contaminated water back into Arizona's aquifer.

This is a similar story and will only recur more often in the future. Thirsty desert cities demanding water from rural basins always whining about their critical urban needs while dismissing rural concerns as emotional babbling. BTW - Mesquite developers have previously made attempts on southern Utah's water.

You can subscribe for e-mail updates at

Monday, November 20, 2006

BLM EIS update pending

I wrote to the BLM Environmental Impact Study project manager, Penny Woods, asking when she might have another update meeting in store for Snake Valley. Below is her reply. Her answer gives an outline of planned events and promises to keep the public posted.

__ reply from Penny Woods __

Hi Ken! I think early March might be a good time. We will have started working on some of the hydrology data and interpretation and we will have a couple of meetings with the cooperating agencies behind us that I can update you on. Would this work for you?

We intend on sending out a mailer within the next 60 days which may update folks in the interim.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Snake Valley & Owens Valley

In Rhetoric debunked (11-8-06) Bill Roberts paints a lavish picture of Owens Valley. It makes one want to move there.

He starts out, "Inflammatory rhetoric is all the rage in water wars." So he intended to introduce some boosterism to counteract it. He says he lived briefly in Owens Valley about 25 years ago and wanted to go back and see the damage everyone bemoans. He was shocked to see it pretty much as it was 25 years ago, with areas of lush green. He claims to have talked to residents who gave a glowing picture of idyllic life in Owens Valley.

Most of the people he depends on for quotes are connected to chambers of commerce. It may be in their best interests to debunk the message of devastation and desiccation. They are paid to put the best face on their communities. Roberts, too, seems full of the spirit of boosterism both for a depleted Owens Valley and for the water grab. I am surprised he didn't nominate the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) for an ecology award. He seems to be poised to put SNWA on a pedestal for their water exportation scheme.

Roberts describes Owens Valley as "lush." Maybe there are lush areas. But it obviously cannot be the same place it formerly was with so much of its water exported over so many years. That doesn't make sense. And even a few isolated verdant spots is a far cry from widespread agriculture that I assume is gone or greatly diminished.

It is not as if he had lived in Owens Valley prior to William Mulholland's rape of the valley. Roberts briefly lived there after both surface water and groundwater exportation. It may well have looked similar in the 25 years between when he lived there and when he returned. That indicates the stagnant nature of the economy there, the lack of a vibrant future.

Owens Lake is one of the worst environmental problems in US history. Doctors in Owens Valley have documented much higher rates of respiratory problems than the national average, at much earlier ages. By some accounts, it is impossible to dust proof homes.

Mr. Roberts' anecdotal evidence about Owens Valley does not make those of us who live in Snake Valley ashamed to make connections to Owens Valley and SNWA's water exportation scheme. Just as Mulholland was a shill for Los Angeles, Las Vegas has its shills. They are getting increasingly shrill.

Future posts will cover the Snake Valley - Owens Valley connection in more detail.

Owens Valley Committee

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Critical Mass and the Depopulation of Spring Valley

by Cecil Garland (Callao, Utah)

[Note: Spring Valley, Nevada, is the next valley west of Snake Valley, also a target of the Las Vegas water grab. SNWA has begun buying ranches in Spring Valley.]

Critical mass in physics is the amount of material that must be present before a chain reaction can sustain itself. Critical mass has also come to mean the size or scale at which a community acquires self-sustaining viability.

Spring Valley, in eastern Nevada, has for over a hundred years been a community of ranchers living not close together, but close enough form friendships and, of course, some animosity but always a community willing to help each other in times of need. Ranching communities are like no other in that living two to 10 miles apart, they do come together often enough to maintain an ongoing critical mass so that they can continue their way of life. The recent purchasing of ranches in Spring Valley at highly inflated prices by Southern Nevada Water Authority is destroying that critical sense of viability. SNWA must know that what they do is destructive to the ranching community and are doing so deliberately. Ranchers need a relationship with their neighbors that is both lasting and mutually beneficial as has been the case in Spring Valley.

Ranchers work together in the spring to gather, brand, mark, vaccinate, and castrate their calves, and in the fall they work together to wean and ship the calves. Helping each other in these endeavors is a long established necessary tradition. Together they build and repair fences. They borrow, rent and exchange machinery, tools and help each other during haying. When going to town, one party may do a multitude of chores for a neighbor saving him a long, expensive trip to town. Older ranchers also depend on the younger people for help which is most often given freely and cheerfully. Phone calls, visits, trips together, social events, and church, the fabric that holds people together, is being torn apart. When ranches are sold to buyers that have no intentions of ranching or replacing the family, then the chain of sustainability and viability is weakened and finally broken. Uneasiness and apprehension will begin to take place in the minds of those who want to remain on the land. Questions will arise. Should I sell now while I can get a big price?

Is it inevitable that SNWA with all their power and wealth will take our water and then will our ranches be nearly worthless? Will our government really protect us, or in fact, can they?

When a valley is being settled by a pioneering, often reclusive individual, there is optimism. The first settlers knew well that others would follow, and that other ranches would come in time. When ranches begin to sell as they are doing today, the opposite psychological effects begin to happen. A foreboding gloom can become pervasive and constant with worry about what is next. Will there be any ranches or community left in a few years? Would any young folks want to come back to the valley? Will the roads, phone service, schools and school buses be maintained or possibly abandoned? It is understandable that young people would be reluctant to return to a valley stripped of its sense of community and the accepted amenities and necessities. These and many more questions of uncertainty are being raised.

Current events of endless hearings and deliberations, often by people who are alien to the ranching way of life, are lessons in how to destroy the critical mass of a valley. These circumstances will send ranching people into burgeoning cities where they are likely to be discontent and unhappy, longing deep in their hearts and souls for the space, the beauty, and the cohesiveness of their former community now gone like the cowboy riding into the sunset.


Cecil C.and Annette H.Garland
Rafter Lazy C Ranch
Callao 225 Pony Express Road
Callao, Utah via Wendover 84083

[Please comment on this post if you wish to contact Cecil by e-mail.]