Keeping an eye on Snohomish County government

PSNERP: An Expensive and Ill-Fated Experiment

increase wetlands equals decrease local farms
PSNERP is an environmental experiment planned for the Puget Sound region during the next decade. It is a collection of 11 wetland “restoration” projects, paid for using $1.1 Billion (with a “B”) dollars in taxes and federal and state grants (i.e. taxpayers funded grants), and sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers and WA Fish & Wildlife. PSNERP is also a prime example of how government destroys quality farmland in favor of “restoring” low production wetlands where there have never been wetlands before.

Here’s How your Local Government Obtains, Experiments, and Destroys Local Farmland:

  • First, farmland acreage is targeted by a realtor working for your local government. The realtor makes contact with the owner well before s/he is serious about selling their land. The realtor calls periodically to assess the owner’s propensity to sell and the amount of an offer they might accept. Farmers report being “pestered” in this way by government realtors for years.
  • Eventually land owners are offered a price per acre that is difficult to refuse. Where does the government get the money to pay for these acquisitions? From a combination of local taxes, state and federal grants, and perhaps a few wealthy environmental interests. Ultimately, however, you and I provide most of these dollars. The land is seldom listed on the open real estate market, and any outside offer is outbid by the governmental entity. One way or another the government takes ownership.
  • At this point the government has lost some of its tax base; taxes previously collected from the farmer/landowner. That amount is made up for by who? The remaining taxpayers of course! You and I! More money out of our pockets.
  • The acreage is then flooded, ostensibly to “restore” it to wetland habitat (that never was) in the interest of one endangered species or another, such as salmon, oysters, birds or plants, at a cost of many millions of dollars. (Ten-twenty million dollars is not unusual.)
  • A fence is installed and the area declared off limits to the public.
  • But the wetland need to be maintained, (weeded for invasive species, etc.), so more money must be spent, costing more tax dollars.
  • This gimmick of “restoring” wetlands (where there never were wetlands before) virtually destroys any future use of those acres as farmland because the time and expense of farmland rehabilitation would be more than a farmer can afford. (In many cases, its been flooded with brackish (salty) water, making rehabilitation to productive farmland virtually impossible.)

In a Nutshell: Too Much Money and Too Little Science

There is an appalling lack of scientific data to justify these “wetland restoration” experiments. Still, during the last decade, quite a few of them have been completed. But not one, that we know of, (and we’ve asked for this information) has been shown to significantly enhance the targeted endangered species, which is why salmon are still endangered, and why we refer to these gimmicks as wetland “experiments.” So, since billions and billions of dollars have already been spent on wetland experiments to date, and none appear to be successful, why keep throwing good money after bad?

Aren’t we obligated to try to preserve Endangered Species, such as Salmon?

Yes. But in most cases, other solutions have not been adequately explored. For instance, in the case of Sockeye salmon, data suggests that lack of zooplankton, (food) for young salmon in the Pacific ocean is the most significant factor limiting their runs. Perhaps further exploration of this data would be money better spent than on PSNERP.

And oddly, in the PSNERP region, scientists have not yet even gathered data to learn what happens to young salmon when they leave the estuaries and enter the Sound. From a scientific standpoint, this is a huge knowledge gap, which they admit to on their own website. They do know that most young salmon never make it through the Puget Sound and into to the Pacific Ocean. Which begs the question, why don’t they spend a billion-plus wetland dollars on studying juvenile salmon in the Puget Sound? Are they afraid the results will bust their taxpayer funded “wetland bank” they depend on? Or, putting on our tin foil hats, are they afraid of losing their excuse for pushing humans out of open spaces?

In 2013, scientists from the PSNERP region and the Salish Sea region of Canada concluded: “Food supply probably mediates salmon survival in most years, and there is a notable lack of zooplankton and ichthyoplankton data…” and “…estuary habitats have the most difficult monitoring problems and the weakest data sets…”. So, scientists don’t yet even know how juvenile salmon use estuaries? OK. How ‘bout spending some of that $billion-plus plunder strengthening those weak data sets instead of making new wetlands?

A critical review of scientific literature on the decline of Pacific salmon indicates that further wetland “restoration” will probably not be useful in saving endangered salmon species and we suspect this is true of other endangered wetland species. The hypothesis that increasing wetlands results in increased salmon could be tested scientifically, however, by collecting data from sites that have already been flooded, rather than starting new projects and further destroying quality farm acreage.

What’s Next?

Unfortunately, the PSNERP project is barging ahead, ignoring sound science and wasting tax-payer dollars. Perhaps they feel a need to use up those dollars before somebody writes an article exposing their tax-payer funded plunder. It’s up to us, the citizens, to stop them. We need to point out that current science, as well as sheer common sense, indicates that farmland should be sold to farmers, not to government entities seeking to carry out ill fated wetland experiments!

What is your opinion of the PSNERP Project? Let the Army Corps of Engineers know. (http://www.usace.army.mil/Contact.aspx)

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