A View from an Arizona Rancher:
by Jim Chilton, an Arizona Rancher and Chairman of Pima Natural Resource Conservation District
In my opinion, President Biden’s Executive Orders and policies will result in more federal regulations and actions impacting Pima Natural Resource Conservation District farmers, ranchers and other resource users. The following are three examples of President Biden’s anti-production initiatives:
The Biden 30 by 30 project advocates that 30% of the nation’s land be “protected” by 2030. Does the Biden policy mean additional government land purchases, new wilderness designations or just control of private and public property through forceful regulation by multiple government agencies? It is probable that all of the above will adversely affect production on private and federal land. Ranchers and farmers have traditionally been conservation leaders; however, there is a danger that the 30 by 30 environmental agenda will promote further moving the Nation, which was founded on private property principles, to an administrative state.
Expansion of the Endangered Species Act. Animal and plant endangered listings can adversely impact farmers’ and ranchers’ future productivity and sustainability. New species listings and the naming of critical habitat have in the past harmfully impacted farmers and ranchers on private, state and federal land. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new listing process and changes in rules and regulations must be carefully monitored.
Rewriting the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to expand federal jurisdiction over land use will undeniably cause some farmers, ranchers, miners and other landowners a problem.
The current Navigable Waters Protection Rule recognizes that, in our area, a significant nexus with the navigable Colorado River does not exist. Very infrequent Altar Valley Wash and Santa Cruz River flood water spreads out and disappears in the flats south of Eloy approximately 68 miles distant from any possible confluence with the generally dry Gila River and about 150 miles more from the Colorado River.
In reality, Pima Natural Resource Conservation District lands do not have a “significant nexus with a navigable water.” An expansion of the Corps of Engineers’ and EPA’s current regulatory jurisdiction back to the 2015 Rule or beyond can result in limitless control over dry washes and an expansion of federal bureaucracy.
For more information from Jim Chilton see:
See more in the People for the West newsletter for July 2021