Government’s Primary Task is to Protect Life, Liberty, and Property

Government’s Primary Task is to Protect Life, Liberty, and Property

By Elizabeth Scott, State Representative

Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-39

I have grown increasingly concerned about the assaults on property rights in our state. The people of East Skagit County were not consulted on their opinion about elk being transplanted there with tax dollars, causing hundreds of traffic accidents, thousands of dollars of crop damage on many farms, damage to yards and gardens, and now hoof disease. Skagit County citizens were not asked if they consented to 6,000 of their neighbors losing the right to use their already-existing wells for household and agricultural purposes; with a court ruling, nearly 500 homeowners including elderly and veterans lost their water rights as well as up to ¾ of the value of their property. Just like that. Citizens have grown weary of attending dozens of meetings or “conversations” designed to badger them into giving up or acquiescing to manufactured ‘consensus’ relegating them to more loss of private property and crops.

The latest outrage is the unelected bureaucrats’ plan to redirect the Skagit River through Barnaby Slough near Rockport in an attempt to give fish more habitat. Yes, Dept of Fish and Wildlife, Nature Conservancy, and Seattle City Light want to redirect a powerful river, in the third-largest watershed on the West Coast, through an area with many homes. (What could go wrong?) The goal is allegedly to improve fish habitat, but if the goal is to have more healthy fish, why was a local citizen ordered by Dept of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) not to help salmon trapped in creek ‘potholes’ on his property because it ‘wouldn’t be natural? He was ordered not to touch the salmon or help them get to the river even though the creekside sign says “Yours to protect.” It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Furthermore, if it is a crime to put a 4-inch wide post in the ground near a river or tributary, because the post ‘might’ interrupt the natural flow of water in a flood, it’s odd that it is suddenly okay for the State and Non-governmental Organizations to post multiple pilings in the river in an attempt to redirect it. Seems like just another case of government saying ‘Do as I say, and not as I do.’ Government is forgetting that its purpose is to serve the people and protect their rights.

Our State Constitution puts it succinctly in Article 1, Section 1: “All political power is inherent in the People, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights…(Sec.3) No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law…(Sec. 16) No private property shall be taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation having been made…” If Alternative 4 is implemented and if it results in a flood or a loss of property value due to an increased risk of flooding, it stands to reason that the right thing to do is for the entities who caused the redirection of the river compensate the property owner for his or her loss. I am drafting a bill to address this. I also proposed a dozen bills last year to return agency bureaucrats’ rule-making authority to the State Legislature, who are directly accountable to the People and can be fired and replaced by someone who will do a better job listening to the will of the People and protecting their property rights. Five of my agency-authority bills received a hearing but were then blocked from a vote in Committee. We will keep trying; Committee Chairs could change next January. Please continue to stay in touch and let me know of any ways I can be of assistance, and contact my office to receive email updates concerning bills to protect property rights.

Elizabeth Scott
State Representative, 39th Legislative District
360-786-7816 office in Olympia

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  • christie fairchild
    January 22, 2016, 10:38 pm

    wow, rep. Elizabeth Scott is right on! thanks, Elizabeth, for coming all the way upriver to hear our concerns, and thanks Dave Hallock, for having this website for us to read and post comments!
    (rural rules)

  • Harold Bressler
    January 23, 2016, 6:36 pm

    This non-sense is as bad as the WDFW giving in to the Wild Fish Conservation groups! Instead of asking the citizens of the state what their feelings are dealing with the Hatchery Winter Steelhead programs, the old director, " Anderson" gave in for fear of a law suit. The WDFW needs to have employees that are accountable to the citizens of the state, the tax payer. The director of the WDFW needs to be a "elected position" not a governor appointment with political overtones.

    The Skagit basin is a travesty at best! A squandered resource from water and property rights to fishing restrictions placed on the recreational fishermen. The real killer is the netting of this resource by the Native Americans. The Bums in Olympia turn a blind eye. Keep on fighting for all our rights! The Bolt Decision protected all citizens rights not just a select few. The Olympia Cartel has forgot this and who they are accountable to.

  • James
    January 24, 2016, 7:30 am

    I don’t understand what the fuss is about. I looked at google earth and didn’t see any houses around the slough. There are a lot of old oxbows out there that could be turned into prime salmon habitat. It would also be excellent floodwater mitigation. We really need to see more projects like this. The native population netting the fish is really not the root of the problem. If they stopped netting the salmon populations would not go up that much. Why? Because of lack of habitat. We spent the last hundred years or so simplifying this river by building dikes, closing off sloughs, and removing large woody debris. Salmon need more stuff like this. It’s because of good stuff like this happening all over the watershed that makes that Skagit river the only river to have all five salmon species returning to it.

    • Dave Hallock@James
      January 24, 2016, 7:04 pm

      James, thanks for your comment. My biggest problem with the project has to do with how the project sponsors have chosen to introduce water into the Barnaby Slough: by cutting a long, deep and wide channel off the Skagit River to divert significant river flow southwestward across the relatively level flood plain. The channel would present an opportunity for the Skagit River to change direction in certain circumstances and puts our neighborhood at great risk of that happening. Our homes are at elevations close to that of the Barnaby slough, so we know we are dealing here with a lot of frightening negative possibilities. This design feature is being reconsidered, we’ve been told, with further study and analysis planned. I don’t know anyone in our neighborhood who opposes improving fish habitat, though some are concerned about habitat balance for other wildlife. So, this is not about opposing habitat improvement. It’s about doing so in a way that creates zero risk to the homes and properties of people living and working in our community.


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