Usually, we think of our president or governor as the individuals charged with protecting our rights and freedoms.
But on Monday, it was Okanogan County Commissioners Jim DeTro, Ray Campbell and Sheilah Kennedy who took over that leadership role. The three vowed to fight efforts by federal agencies attempting to steal private property and water rights under the auspices of the federal Endangered Species Act.
Their declaration came after hearing more than 90 minutes of testimony Monday on Bonneville Power Administration’s efforts to purchase land and water rights in the name of salmon and steelhead. Commissioners said enough is enough, and with more than 80 percent of the county already owned by state, federal or tribal agencies, we agree.
Ranches, orchards and other agricultural endeavors are the lifeblood of the Okanogan, not salmon. The agricultural industry provides jobs as well as tax revenue — in short, it pays the bills.
Okanogan County commissioners are working with their peers in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to develop a much broader plan to limit authority of federal bureaucrats in our part of the state. And they are considering a joint state of emergency declaration to wrestle land and water control back from those bureaucrats.
Area counties aren’t the only ones adopting anti-federal government positions — indeed many western states’ counties are gearing up for a political battle with federal bureaucrats.
More than 40 ranchers and their families applauded the commissioners’ efforts during Monday’s meeting in Okanogan. And they vowed to stand with county officials in a united opposition to further federal encroachment on the lives and liberties of area residents.
County commissioners should be commended for their stance and defense of area residents and the life, culture and heritage that makes us who we are. Let’s hope its enough to prevent confrontations with federal officials.