CalMatters Looks at Order for Humboldt County Businessman to pay $750,000 for Violating State Water, Wildlife Regulations

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A Humboldt County cannabis grower has agreed to pay $750,000, remove unpermitted ponds and restore streams and wetlands after state officials accused him of  violating regulations protecting water supplies, wildlife and waterways.

Of the total, $500,000 is a record penalty for a water rights violation in California. State officials say the violations by Joshua Sweet and the companies he owns and manages, Shadow Light Ranch, LLC and The Hills, LLC, continued for years and were “egregious,” damaging wetlands and other resources.

Under the settlement, Sweet will have to pay an additional $1 million if the remediation work outlined is not completed.

In a statement to CalMatters, Sweet said, “If the full penalty and remediation costs were due today it would take everything I own.”

“Although I will follow through with my end of the settlement, I do not believe this is fair or just, and I believe I have already suffered way too much,” Sweet, a licensed cannabis cultivator, said in the emailed statement.

“Even during our court-mandated settlement conference, they were asked why they would go after a small independent businessman with these type of enormous fines usually reserved for huge corporations that destroy ecosystems.”

In the settlement, Sweet agreed that “developing the properties in Humboldt County … resulted in violations of the California Fish and Game Code and the California water Code.”

“Although I will follow through with my end of the settlement, I do not believe this is fair or just, and I believe I have already suffered way too much.”

Joshua Sweet, Humboldt County cannabis owner

The companies’ 435 acres of land are part of the Emerald Triangle, where cannabis reins. Springs and streams of the Bear Canyon Creek Watershed cross the land and eventually drain into the South Fork Eel River — a wild and scenic river that provides critical habitat for threatened and endangered species of steelhead, Chinook and coho salmon.

The settlement comes as the cannabis industry is still trying to find its footing after legalization, and as its water use, especially for illegal cannabis operations, becomes increasingly contentious.

The agreement, approved by the Humboldt County Superior Court and announced last week, is the culmination of years of inspections by state water and wildlife officials dating back to 2016, according to the timeline outlined in the initial complaint.

It “resolves violations … that include: the owner’s destruction of wetland habitat and stream channels; conversion of oak woodland to grow cannabis; and failure to … satisfy permitting requirements,” the state’s announcement of the deal said. 

Yvonne West, director of the State Water Resources Control Board’s office of enforcement, said Sweet didn’t have authorization to divert water to the reservoirs and use it. Between 2017 and 2020, Sweet took about 16.2 acre-feet of water for three ponds, according to an email from the water board — approximately enough to supply about 49 households for a year.

“The ordered penalties are modest given the scope of damage, the length of time the site has been left unremediated and considering the unjust enrichment or benefit to Mr. Sweet from running a business for several years without going through the necessary permitting process,” said Jeremy Valverde, assistant chief counsel at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in an emailed statement.

Sweet and his businesses “for years resisted our attempts to cooperatively work on restoration and recovery of those resources, leaving formal enforcement as our only option,” said Joshua Curtis, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s assistant executive officer.

Sweet said, though, that the case didn’t have to play out like it did. “Offers were made and denied,” he said. “There would be no settlement without their need to ‘make an example of me first’.”

The size of the penalty is notable because the water board has limited powers to enforce California’s arcane water rights system. A weeklong standoff during a drought, when ranchers pumped more than half of the Shasta River’s water in violation of state orders, netted a $500 per day fine that reached $4,000, or roughly $50 per rancher.

“The ordered penalties are modest given the scope of damage, the length of time…and considering the unjust enrichment or benefit to Mr. Sweet from running a business for several years.”

Jeremy Valverde, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

State lawmakers floated a bill last year that could triple the fines for water rights violations, though the bill has thus far stalled. And in 2022, a new law enhanced penalties for cannabis-related violations to $3,500 per day, though this took effect after then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the complaint.

“This was an ongoing use by Mr. Sweet and the penalties are over an approximately four-year period for unauthorized diversion and use of water to support cultivation,” West said. “Five hundred dollars a day, multiple violations over a four-year period, does really add up. And then again we did have the additional types of violations at play here as well.”

The cannabis operation’s complex irrigation system came to state officials’ attention after Sweet notified the Department of Fish and Wildlife of plans to further develop the property in 2015, the 2020 complaint said.

Over the years, inspections by state agencies turned up “violations … for unlawful alteration of the bed, channel, or bank of a stream and … unlawful sediment discharge into waters,” the complaint said. They also turned up storage tanks and three storage ponds, two of which predated his ownership and one that, according to the complaint, Sweet had constructed despite the warning that it needed a permit.

The pond was in a location that “disturbs/inundates wetlands with a direct hydrologic connection and discharge to a … tributary to the South Fork Eel River,” the complaint says. “Additionally, the Property’s other ponds, multiple illegal stream crossings, and road-associated landslide discharge or threaten to discharge to unnamed tributaries of the South Fork Eel River.”

The pond is one of the reasons state officials considered the case egregious, West said. “We didn’t have the opportunity to review and catalog the status of that wetland or the benefits of that wetland before it was destroyed.”

Sweet, the grower, said the lengthy process “has caused so much undue and unnecessary strain, pain, and suffering on me and my health, my family, my friends, and this community.”

“I thought what I was following the law and had hired the proper professional team to abide by the myriad of requirements,” Sweet added. “My suffering does not end, and I will continue to struggle for the foreseeable future. Which is, I guess, what they wanted.”

Earlier: Local Business Owner Josh Sweet Agrees to Pay $1.75 Million for Cannabis Environmental Violations

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tru matters
Guest
tru matters
18 days ago

His sweet pond ain’t looking so sweet now.

Dan
Guest
Dan
17 days ago
Reply to  tru matters

Yes, but how can this be ignored?
This was a climax coastal wetland;
destroyed by a misguided weeding program.

Lanphere_Dunes
Last edited 17 days ago
ABA
Guest
ABA
17 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Irrelevant. Take it back to your AI-generated letters to the editor.

Dan
Guest
Dan
17 days ago
Reply to  ABA

Irrelevant?
Apply the same policies to the nativist (the careless weeder) that are applied to the grower and you will see this erosion is good bullshit, stopped on a dime.

willow creeker
Member
17 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Dan, very off topic but: this spot that you always show photos of is one of the neatest dune spots out there. I know exactly where it is, and I go there often. The dunes swallowing up some trees? Geology in action. It must’ve happened way before somebody pulled out some European beach grass; you can tell by how long the trees have been dead.
You and the water board have something in common- trying to make a case for something with very weak photographic evidence.

Dan
Guest
Dan
17 days ago
Reply to  willow creeker

Not off-topic! Wetlands and wildlife deserve and are legally protected on the coast as well for a grower inland.
These are constructed wetlands, they enjoy the same protections as natural wetlands.
Did your friend call out erosion as a factor for removing grasses- have you lost your mind? Tell me of a community in history that encouraged the onset of erosion, think it through don’t be another idiot.
I use to collect mushrooms at this spot, now it is vulnerable to Sea-Level Rise and Salt Water Intrusion, its ability to provide habitat for wildlife and migratory birds is gone. And you are proud?

Trout Fisher
Guest
Trout Fisher
17 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Those trees died along time ago, likely because of salt water, not pulling beach grass.

Dan
Guest
Dan
17 days ago
Reply to  Trout Fisher

Stick to trout.
Those trees died due to the erosion of the Primary Dune.
The Primary Dune created the deflation plane wetland.
When the dune collapsed it buried the wetland. Where is the gain,
Trout Fisher?
We did this with Porter/Cologne legislated wetland and wildlife enhancement money, explain please.

BoffinD
Member
17 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Please stop. It was man made

Dan
Guest
Dan
17 days ago
Reply to  Boffin

What was man made?

Behind the scenes:
Guest
Behind the scenes:
15 days ago
Reply to  tru matters

“…came to state officials’ attention after Sweet notified the Department of Fish and Wildlife of plans to further develop the property in 2015, the 2020 complaint said.”

So maybe an example of asking the wrong person on the wrong day. Two ponds predated his ownership. Seems like a little shopping spree of violations by the agencies.

Ima
Guest
Ima
18 days ago

Absolutely unfair! Ranchers throughout the State have created stock ponds since the mid 1800’s. It’s all about the cannabis plant. The Shasta River reference clearly demonstrates the disproportionality. I have to believe the functional habitat value of the ponds far exceeds that of the functional habitat value of the referenced wetlands which were likely degraded due to decades of cattle grazing. Back in the 1970’sand 1980’s Fish and Game encouraged the development of ponds for habitat value and ground water recharge. CDF also supported the development of ponds as a water source to combat forest fires. My family built a number of ponds on the family ranch outside of Grass Valley.

According to the Ecological Society of America (ESA), Ponds are among the most biodiverse and ecologically important freshwater habitats globally and may provide a significant opportunity to mitigate anthropogenic pressures and reverse the decline of aquatic biodiversity. Ponds also provide important contributions to society through the provision of ecosystem services. https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ecs2.3853

kharma
Guest
kharma
18 days ago
Reply to  Ima

Only if he manages for bullfrogs will the benefits outweigh the costs. If it was anyone else, we would all feel bad, but Mr Sweet is simply learning about being the victim of the prejudice he has exerted over others. I watched him spray a homeless man seated on the sidewalk with ice-cold water. Sucks to be the one taking the shower, but he was certainly willing to dish it out when he thought he was the one with the power.

Guest 2
Guest
Guest 2
16 days ago
Reply to  kharma

I also know a traveling worker musician who was almost hosed by josh and threatened as well. It’s hard because I totally think what is happening to him is wrong but yeah, he did a lot of terrible things to the poor workers in our community.

Behind the scenes:
Guest
Behind the scenes:
15 days ago
Reply to  Guest 2

Ok. Let’s admit, some music is more fun to play than to listen to.
Stone Junction needs a chain link cage stage. Then if we don’t like the Traveling Musicians’ greatest hits we can throw beer bottles at them instead.

Behind the scenes:
Guest
Behind the scenes:
15 days ago
Reply to  kharma

I know of a pond with bullfrogs used to water weed!
Neighbors call it Ruth Lake. I have it on good authority that it’s sacred waters are diverted to Marihuana growing in Arcata!

THC
Member
THC
17 days ago
Reply to  Ima

It’s not the pond they have the problem with, it’s the fact he didn’t pay them for permission first..

Behind the scenes:
Guest
Behind the scenes:
17 days ago
Reply to  THC

Then you have Northern California water essentially shipped south to Kern county, when the Kern and San Joaquin get dried up. Hundreds if not thousands of acre feet stolen with giant pipes running along canals for the Rezniks’ Pom wonderful brands.
That west side desert doesn’t drain right, and has too much boron. These huge run off ponds were created that attract and kill migratory birds. The scale of this jerks “violation” pales in comparison.

Farmer
Guest
Farmer
17 days ago
Reply to  Ima

California dept of fish and wildlife have decided to support the Potter Valley stream diversion. The biggest environmental disaster in the Eel River watershed.
It shows they are biased against cannabis.

THC
Member
THC
17 days ago
Reply to  Farmer

Most of the fishing game officers are not too happy with the way there being used by the State government. Fish and game have special privileges that let them circumvent parts of the fourth amendment which the local law enforcement utilized to get warrants and do illegal search and seizures, not to mention levy fines that are ridiculous comparatively speaking.

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
17 days ago
Reply to  Farmer

The Potter Valley project is on the Upper Eel River watershed. These violations with Sweet are in the South Fork Eel River watershed, that include the East Branch of the South Fork Eel River. One has nothing to do with the other.

How much did Sweet pay CalMatters to put his spin in the court of public opinion. Will Sweet appeal the courts decision, put is money where is mouth is?

Kym Kemp
Admin
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

Ed, it is a settlement. He’s agreed to it. You can’t sue over something you agreed to unless the other party misrepresented the terms.

Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
17 days ago
Reply to  Kym Kemp

So if its a done deal, why is Mr. Sweet still bitching about the deal he agreed to, the horse id dead, get off…

THC
Member
THC
14 days ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

Lol, Says the king of Dead Horse beaters..

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

🤔🧐,

Ed,

You are the only one that is making the only association between the PV Project and the SF Eel River.

I believe what Farmer was comparing and contrasting was in fact the “disconnect” and hypocrisy between Fish and Wildlife being on the one hand, supportive of the PV Project, that Farmer considers much more destructive than Sweet’s pond, yet they bring the hammer down on Sweet’s pond, which is a relative non issue, ridiculous to negatively regulate on, compared to the much bigger ecological disaster that is the PV Project.

He wasn’t suggesting that they were hydrologically connected or not.

Farmer certainly made no such association, so disputing that non existent association is a bit overly argumentative, wouldn’t you agree…???

Last edited 17 days ago
Farmer
Guest
Farmer
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

You missed the point

Last edited 17 days ago
Ed Voice
Guest
Ed Voice
17 days ago
Reply to  Farmer

I didn’t miss anything.

The Real Guest
Guest
The Real Guest
17 days ago
Reply to  Ed Voice

🤦‍♂️

Tangled Massocells
Guest
Tangled Massocells
17 days ago
Reply to  Farmer

Come on… it shows the Democrat politicians that run California – like wine! The French Laundry has only the finest wine. (They like the $$$$ given to their campaigns, too).

Farce
Guest
Farce
15 days ago

Remember when Gov. Newsom got busted having dinner there with a bunch of his lobbyist buddies- no masks, openly flouting his own ask mandate while laughing away at an incredibly expensive dinner and drinking thousands dollar wines? Then he lied and denied he did it. Then there was photographic evidence. Then he finally admitted and apologized? He wants us all to forget it ever happened as he pursues his presidential ambitions. He is a liar and not to be trusted…

Mada N
Guest
Mada N
18 days ago

I’m cranky this morning so idk, but examples should be made. He got caught while plenty of people don’t. Unfortunate place and time to not follow the rules that were being given to you, directly, over a period of time… Sounds like they gave him time to do something to lessen the fees… Sweet should go into more details about the Actions he actually took to remediate any of the problems they had with the farm BEFORE the state took legal action. He says it didn’t have to be like this. What did he do before this blew up? He didn’t go into it in the interviews. He just cried about the pain HE caused his family and friends. Idk I’m p just being a cranky btch. *shrug emoji*

willow creeker
Member
17 days ago
Reply to  Mada N

I had the water board cops at my place, and they saw a pond I made with a backhoe, no permits, right next to a class 3 creek. They said, ‘no cannabis, we don’t care about it’ . True story.

Curiouser
Guest
Curiouser
18 days ago

Anybody that has ever met Joshua Sweet knows that he has never struggled a day in his life. Boo hoo, cry me a river 😢

Farce
Guest
Farce
18 days ago
Reply to  Curiouser

Oh but he is a victim too! A poor little victim Boo Hoo!

spamned
Guest
spamned
17 days ago
Reply to  Farce

pwoor pwoor josh…sniff~

Ben Round
Guest
Ben Round
17 days ago
Reply to  Curiouser

Yeah, no. Josh, who I have known since he was an early teen very much struggled early in his life. He had to have open heart surgery, maybe multiple times as a child. If I recall correctly, he was not expected to live much past his 20s. That may not be relevant or excuse the poor decisions he made, but it may account, to some degree, why he is such a ‘force of nature’, determined, maybe even a pushy person. Whatever the exact heart health predictions, Josh has defied the odds. Now, after this experience (besides his issues with the system, it can’t be easy to be called out in the media), he has the opportunity to look at his patterns, be more contrite, to know he has survived, and to settle into a more caring mindset.
And ohh yes. There is little doubt that jealousy and ‘being made an example’ are at play here. Josh is the most visible, successful grower / town business person around. If he was seen as nicer, more of his colleagues in cannabis would be touting him as a local hero. And, of course, a state system that is still discriminating against the cannabis community sees him as the perfect target. And sure, he has brought some of this on himself. Whatever your view, this has the making of a local tragedy.
I trust that Josh will clean this up. So let’s stay together as a community as best we can, let’s look in the mirror, and let’s offer compassion to our ‘family’, even when they are imperfect.

Last edited 17 days ago
Tim
Guest
Tim
17 days ago
Reply to  Ben Round

I’ve known Josh since I was a young child I think he’s just being caught up in the same political mess. Everyone else has been with the cannabis. Perhaps he did make a few mistakes but we’re not all perfect. He’s always been my friend.

wantsto know
Guest
wantsto know
14 days ago
Reply to  Ben Round

Well said. Thank you.

Onceler
Guest
Onceler
18 days ago

Nothing new here, but I assume this existing egregious environmental disaster was fully reviewed and permitted by Humboldt County Planning – who was surely happy to rubber stamp anything that would bring in more fees and taxes regardless of its impact on the environment or community. John Ford “bringing into the light,” and legitimizing that which clearly still belongs in the dark. The universal truth in the hills is that profits will be placed ahead of the environment, community, labor laws, cannabis regulations and permit conditions – it was true in the heyday and maybe more so as financial returns diminish. Clearly these operations deserve more scrutiny up front and more inspections for compliance – which is why I’ll reluctantly vote yes on Measure A in hopes that anything which increases enforcement will be better than our current failed system.

Oscardelahotdog
Guest
Oscardelahotdog
18 days ago
Reply to  Onceler

I don’t understand the “reluctant vote ” that implies you already don’t want to. I know plenty of farmers who are environmentally friendly and small family owned …. measure A will crush hopes and dreams of good people. Just because there’s one rotten egg…you don’t break the whole basket.

Onceler
Guest
Onceler
17 days ago

I’m reluctant to vote for Measure A because I don’t believe the County has the ability or will to enforce even the existing ordinance properly and more unenforceable regulations may not reign in violators. But, coupled with poor market conditions, Measure A may be an adequate deterrent from permitted farms choosing to locate or expand their operations high in our watersheds where there is a lack of water and infrastructure for industrialized agriculture. Unfortunately, decades of first hand experience suggests to me that there is more than one rotten egg in the basket. As an example, many (all?) permitted farms still sell to the black market and hire workers (some illegal or trafficked) under the table. Water acquisition and use outside of permitted conditions is common. Lighted greenhouses glow into the night. Etc, etc. Unscrupulous farmers will naturally be opposed to increased scrutiny of these violations because it will reduce their profits. The industry’s argument against Measure A is that farms might not be able to increase their solar power or improve roads and such – which of course is ridiculous and simplistic. In what other specific ways would the measure unfairly “crush hopes and dreams” for a small farm that’s actually following regulations and conditions?

Behind the scenes:
Guest
Behind the scenes:
15 days ago
Reply to  Onceler

There is a lack of water for industrial agriculture in most of California. Properties in Humboldt are some of the few in the State that have water on their own properties. Note that his violations involve 16 acre feet over three or four years. Did you know that in the South Central Valley you can buy an acre foot of water for only $1500? I pay that much for annual PERMITS for just 1/5 an acre foot that I must pump, convey, and store from my own property. On a normal rain year about 160 acre feet of water falls as rain and runs off my property. Sounds like Sweets property might receive around 4,500 acre feet of water as rainfall annually. He is getting these fines for using approximately 4 acre feet a year, or less than .01% of the water that runs off his property.
True industrial AG in CA has pumped enough ground water to drop the land forty feet! When the San Joaquin is pumped dry, it is basically the Sacramento River water, originating in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Trinity Counties replacing it. Saudi owned export alfalfa farms we’re getting discounted Colorado river water in Arizona, while Mexico and Navajos get dust. All the Cannabis grown in California would fit in one little corner of the drained Tulare Lake. Would CDFW or the Water boards consider Tulare Lake a wetlands? Any penalties for developing these vast areas before the agencies surveyed?

Last edited 15 days ago
Meh
Guest
Meh
17 days ago
Reply to  Onceler

Not only was it stamped off by the county, but in order for the county to sign off the Water Board AND Fish & Wildlife have to sign off as well with a LSA and 1600 etc. So, they all OK’d the project, allowed the licensing to move forward and then decided to be a bunch of Indian givers. And, he had contacted F&W prior to the construction.

Behind the scenes:
Guest
Behind the scenes:
15 days ago
Reply to  Onceler

It’s not an environmental disaster just because weed is associated. He just failed to pay for permits. There are ponds all over the place. Ponds with bullfrogs. If there is no weed watered, that is no problem. CDFW could have a bull frog program but they don’t. They have a cannabis program. One costs, one pays. Has anybody heard of any audio monitoring of any ponds for bullfrogs? Any attempts to control bullfrog populations anywhere other than around weed?
And let me get this straight, bull dozing (one of) the existing pond(s) is going to be an environmental improvement?

Misguided
Guest
Misguided
18 days ago

Yah no matter if he’s a dickhead or not, the fines seem out of hand… Then he’ll just raise the rent more on his properties…. He did well for himself during the green rush and before, but that doesn’t mean he should be made an example of…I bet his properties look good and aren’t trash heaps. He is just an easy person for people to throw stones at… I don’t care for him saying he’s “suffering” or “struggling” but let’s realize the fines are out of control.

Jeffersonian
Guest
Jeffersonian
18 days ago
Reply to  Misguided

Although I have no love for the cannibus industry, the fine amount is ridiculous.

The Unreal Real
Guest
The Unreal Real
17 days ago
Reply to  Jeffersonian

A mere drop in the buckets of ducats …

No sympathy for fools
Guest
No sympathy for fools
18 days ago

I don’t know, maybe all the people that weren’t your friends that you treated like crap over the years and belittled, you know the ones you went out of your way to make feel uncomfortable and unwelcome because you deemed them not worthy, maybe just maybe, this is karma! Cry me a river!

Last edited 17 days ago
Dragonfly
Guest
Dragonfly
16 days ago

Bingo. Your putrid attitude and dark behavior has impacted Garberville’s economy and violated the Civil Rights of so many.

Misguided
Guest
Misguided
17 days ago

I did however once work at a local establishment, the owner had hired a local homeless person, who wanted to work, as well as some rough around the edge hippies, and he said to her, verbatim, in line at the bank “ifnyoure gonna hire those kinds of people I’ll tell my friends not to come there.” So, I guess karma is kind of a bitch, and in irony, one of his childhood friends ordered like 100$ worth of food there later that same day.

Trout Fisher
Guest
Trout Fisher
17 days ago

Good, wetland and oak woodland, conversion and destruction should never have happened. Glad he has to make remediations

Trout Fisher
Guest
Trout Fisher
17 days ago

Humans cause untold suffering to the natural world. The wetland, and oak woodland, supported numerous beneficial species, who were thoughtlessly displaced. The demolished, wetland and oak grove were carbon offsets, for driving a big gas guzzling pot grower pickup truck.

Heart
Guest
Heart
17 days ago

Seems that leaky ponds (most are, unless lined) are great for groundwater recharge ( current project in Briceland) and fish habitat and that removing the ponds will likely create more impact to water and fish habitat than leaving them as they are .
Inspecting the ponds to make sure they aren’t headed for major failure and a reasonable fine (used to pay for watershed restoration projects)as punishment to J.S. and to deter others from doing similar would seem in the overall best interests of Nature and Humanity.

Ullr Rover
Guest
Ullr Rover
17 days ago

Without the administrative overlords who would steal our money to support the bureaucracy?

Timb0D
Member
17 days ago

Sweet said, “If the full penalty and remediation costs were due today it would take everything I own.”
That is all they want–everything you own.
George Carlin said it best in the early 2000’s. Paraphrased: They want it all, and guess what—they’re gonna get it.

I like stars
Guest
I like stars
17 days ago

Well at least he’s taking accountability and not playing the victim.

Kicking Bull
Guest
Kicking Bull
17 days ago

Reminds me of a nursery rhyme-
Invite satan to sleep in your bed,
Wake up with a sore ass back side

Freedumb
Guest
Freedumb
16 days ago

I’m sick of it. It’s his property. If he wants to dig a pond that’s his choice. Didn’t look that bad at all from the pictures. If he grew dope without a permit arrest him. Very simple but stay off our fucking properties what we do with them is none of your business. As the loggers just decimated sprowel Creek looks like a fucking war zone went off there I don’t see waddles or anything and you’re worried about a fucking pond. Banana republic

Brackish
Guest
Brackish
16 days ago
Reply to  Freedumb

Thanks for putting up a great post. So true. If there was an all-you-can eat buffet of personality disorders, vindictive people would graze

Ben Round
Guest
Ben Round
14 days ago
Reply to  Freedumb

To a degree, yes. Otherwise no. If the ponds were build on a stream channel, as is inferred, that is bad. ‘Owning’ property comes with the responsibility to steward / care for the land, and it’s non-human inhabitants. Maintaining a healthy eco-system is in the larger good.
CDFW and the agencies have an important job to do in protecting our resources. The problem is that they use excess authority and power in executing their ‘responsibilities‘. Most often they work against a landowner rather than with them.
In the permitting process I know that some farmers have learned from and been encouraged to make manageable, affordable changes that have benefitted the environment. The issue, again, is that the agencies seem to don’t recognize nor give credit those things, as they always want more, more, MORE to be done.

Mark
Guest
Mark
16 days ago

I’ve known Josh since he came here as a baby. He has complex sides to him and I hear his statement that he’s being made an example of in his kinder voice and not a wail of complaint. He probably had that disarming smile of his while noting the irony of the situation. I would not demonize Josh for getting caught. Many of us taught him that the environment is HOME to us all. The money demon in him took action in opposition to his better nature.

Let’s hope he finds the better angel of his soul from here on out. He is adaptable to his new situation and I know he will work his butt off to pay the fines. What comes next may be up to the community to support what is good and call him and his cannabis colleagues to account when the actions are decidedly NOT good.

If the growers were more self-policing, a lot of the environmental and social damage would not have occurred. And we wouldn’t have Measure A to support in order to put the brakes on the basically anti-social behavior of some growers abetted by the growers’s silence who know better.