Tag Archives: conservation

Oklahomans Getting Soaked! Tag Teamed by FEMA and OWRB

Kaye Beach

August 30, 2011

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God; and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” —John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. July 16, 1814

Last week I wrote about the stories of two Oklahoma residents, David McLain and Margaret Snow, and their  respective experiences with FEMA and the map modernization program (Map Mod) Margaret had no idea her property had been re-designated at all and David caught the FEMA/Oklahoma Water Resources Board in the act and challenged them.  His property remains safely listed as high and dry.    Margaret’s property (located no where near water and previously was classified as “up land”) remains in the newly designated flood zone and has subsequently lost about half of its value.

Map Mod have transitioned into what FEMA calls Risk Map.  The Risk Map program provides tools and incentives for communities to focus more on reducing risk which you can bet translates into more areas being required to pay for flood insurance and more areas where development is off limits or severely restricted.  You can check and see if your area has been remapped (DFIRM Digital Flood Insurance Map) by zip code at FEMA’s website

Why is this happening?   In a nutshell-the National Flood Insurance Program NFIP (administered by FEMA) is in debt to the tune of about 20 billion dollars due to Hurricane Katrina, Rita and other storms and FEMA is including property in flood zones that have no reason being there in order to gain funds  in order to pay this debt.  Property owners in certain flood zones are practically required to buy flood insurance.  If you have or want a loan backed by the federal government and your property is in a flood zone- you must buy flood insurance from FEMA.  Otherwise, many are being pressured to buy it.

FEMA was in  trouble before Katrina and Rita though.

After Katrina and Rita struck in 2005, the NFIP was more or less insolvent, without the capacity to pay the huge volume of claims those hurricanes created. Congress reacted by increasing the NFIP’s borrowing ability from the U.S. Treasury more than 13-fold, to a level of nearly $21 billion. link

FEMA Map Modernization Status OKLAHOMA

Here is a story published today about the National Flood Insurance Program’s insolvency;

Irene sends floundering flood insurance program further under water

Congress authorized FEMA to update the nation’s flood maps making them digital and other improvements however in 2006 FEMA issued a “mid course adjustment” which means FEMA basically said ‘Hey.  We are going to do this Map Modernization thing a little differently’  What they have done differently is causing lots of problems for property owners.

“In August and September 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused unprecedented destruction to property along the Gulf Coast, resulting in billions of dollars of damage claims to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).” GAO 2006

About 2006 FEMA begins issuing flood zone maps with a whole lot of people and their property in it that are not historically or practically at risk for flooding.

The FEMA flood maps determine who must buy insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program.  The money collected from the NFIP goes to paying off the FEMA administered NFIP’s debt.  You do the math.

It’s no secret anyways, FEMA freely admits that part of this new approach is prompted by the burden of debt carried from other disasters.

“The escalating cost of emergency relief aid has prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to focus its priorities toward mitigation. This is a dramatic shift from FEMA’s traditional charter of responding to disasters and being prepared to respond.” The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan

We are essentially being taxed to pay for other people’s losses.  The reason that this is considered necessary now is because “climate change” is a certainty and the federal government expects the unprecedented disasters of recent years to continue.  Redistribution of wealth  is the accepted manner in which to deal with these certainties reminiscent of the thinking behind nationalized health care.  This is also known as “legalized plunder“.

In Oklahoma, the Water Resources Board administers the NFIP for FEMA.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) administers the NFIP in cooperation with FEMA and acts as the State Floodplain Board. The Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act requires the OWRB to establish regulations to assist floodplain boards in mapping floodplains and 100-year flood elevations in Oklahoma. link

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is in charge of all Flood Plain Management as authorized by the Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act.(Title 82, O. S. 2001, §1601-1618)

All NFIP participating communities must have a floodplain management plan which follows the dictates of FEMA.

“The Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act, effective May 13, 1980, and revised and updated in 2001, 2002, and 2004, enables Oklahoma communities to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).” link

This means that if your community is participating in the NFIP, then your communities development must conform to FEMA’s regulations and land use policies

The federal government has no authority to control local land use policy but with the lure of federal funds and the threat of withholding federal funds in the event of a true disaster, FEMA wahoo’s your local government to do their bidding.

“Since the Federal Government does not have land use authority, the NFIP is based on the Federal government’s power to spend under the Constitution rather than any Federal authority to regulate land use.”

“Under the NFIP regulations, participating NFIP communities are required to regulate all development in SFHAs. [Special Flood Hazard Areas]”

National Flood Insurance Program

Similarly, the state passes the buck to it’s agencies to implement unpopular growth limitations on local development plans.  Water management agencies are empowered by the state to regulate population growth and development.

“The State of Oklahoma does not have adopted ordinances regulating areas of population growth or future development per se. Oklahoma agencies representing the state under authority granted to them by the legislation adopt rules/regulations regarding Storm Water Management or Stream Water Management”

The first thing you ought to know is that floodplain management is more about protecting the environment from you, than protecting you from the environment. (More about Sustainable Development here)  As we know, Oklahoma’s high percentage of private property ownership is considered to be contrary to sustainable development.  (Private Property Ownership in Oklahoma Barrier to Sustainable Development)

It has been this way for some time. As far back as 1996, floodplain management has incorporated conservation into its management duties.

OKLAHOMA’S COMPREHENSIVE WETLANDS CONSERVATION PLAN

“To integrate wetlands conservation with Oklahoma’s flood plain management program and create more wetland greenbelt/riparian areas.”

Oklahoma has a  “net gain” policy for state owned wetlands and a “no net loss” policy for “wetlands”on state funded projects.

“To establish a net gain wetlands policy for state-owned lands and a no net loss policy on state funded projects to encourage the restoration, enhancement, and creation of wetlands.”

Incorporating wetlands construction or enhancement in urban/suburban areas as part of greenbelts, riparian zones, parks, and stormwater management systems is encouraged.

http://www.okcc.state.ok.us/Publications/OK_Comprehensive_Wetlands_Conservation_Plan.pdf

Certified Floodplain Managers

Members of Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association have the acronym CFM by their names.  That means Certified Floodplain Manager.

So  when you see CFM by your floodplain managers’ name…

Members of Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association:

Bill Smith, PE, CFM, Team Leader; Amy Brandley, CFM, Volunteers Coordinator. Team Captains: Phillip Beauchamp, CFM, Gavin Brady, CFM, Dan Carey, CFM, Jessica Yeager, CFM, Leslie Lewis,
CFM, Barend Meiling, PE, CFM, Omeed Mollaian, PE, CFM, Ken Morris, CFM, Bill Robison, PE, CFM, Carolyn Schultz, CFM, Ellen Stevens, PhD, PE, CFM, Ana Stagg, CFM, Laura Story, Anna Waggoner, CFM, Ruth Walters, CFM, Clark Williams, CFM link

. . .understand that CFM (Certified Floodplain Manager) means ASFPM certified floodplain manager.   And if your floodplain manager is ASFPM certified, you need to be checking your city ordinances for “No Adverse Impact” floodplain management techniques.

**Here is a list of all state Floodplain Managers.  Look for your county and see if they have a “CFM” by their name.**


If you want to know more about the role and duties of an Oklahoma Floodplain Manager-click the pic.

“The ASFPM CFM Program recognizes individuals who become certified, who pass the ASFPM exam, or an exam prepared ASFPM chapters that certify floodplain managers.” link

The National Association of Flood Plain Managers or ASFPM is a non-governmental organization (meaning unelected and not officially a part of government).   As with many non-government agencies, ASFPM seeks to be extremely influential in policy making.  It seems that they have met their goal.

ASFPM is part of a 6 NGO partnership that includes

•The Nature Conservancy (TNC)

•The Coastal States Organization (CSO), The National Association of Counties (NACo),

•the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and

•The American Planning Association (APA).)

link

As I mentioned in my previous post—–The ASFPM has some very interesting new management techniques that really got my attention while researching water management issues a few months ago.  This new water management technique is called No Adverse Impact or NAI.

ASFPM says that NO ADVERSE IMPACT is “A New Direction in Floodplain Management Consistent with the Concept of Sustainable Development”

A new direction?

It is only as new as the 1987 Brundtland Report which is the basis for No Adverse Impact. (More about Sustainable Development here)

We all understand that we cannot do anything on or with our property (or our rights) that will harm the rights of another.

The No Adverse Impact approach begins with a solid and lawful premise, that our right to swing our fists stops where the nose of our neighbor begins, but then twists that premise by the manner in which what constitutes an adverse impact in determined.

“The No Adverse impact philosophy can shape the default management criteria: a community develops and adopts a comprehensive plan to manage development that identifies acceptable levels of impact, specifies appropriate measures to mitigate those adverse impacts, and establishes a plan for implementation.” link

So the community defines what constitutes an adverse impact and as we have seen time and again, the “community” is a group of people who are usually manipulated into “consensus” by community organizers to meet sustainable development goals.  But don’t be distracted from the truth.  No one, no group can define and thus take away your God given rights.  This is a dangerous road to travel and one that the Founders of this country explicitly avoided.  We are NOT a democracy.

It is often said that we are a nation of laws, not men.  This is what protects us from an arbitrary and capricious government.  Laws restrain men but in ASFPM’s view men should have the ability to restrain law.

This is the problem; what constitutes an “adverse impact” under ASFPM’s plan, is defined by the community not the law.

FEMA, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Oklahoma Floodplain Managers have adopted the ASFPM’s No Adverse Impact management technique and it is being implemented in this state to the detriment of Oklahoma land owners.

ASFPMA and FEMA-working ten regions

FEMA REGIONS

ASFPM’s Regions

The term favored by FEMA is “wise use” but you will also see “no adverse imapct” used as well.  Both share the same problem-who defines what “wise use” or “no adverse impact” means?

Now  “Hazard Mitigation”  for FEMA has broadened considerably and it dovetails nicely with conservation efforts.  Now it is all about prevention of future disasters.  One great way to prevent property losses is to makes sure there is no property to lose in the first place.

The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan 2011

“Property Acquisition –This is the State’s most favored, and usually most cost effective, voluntary option because the people and property are totally and permanently removed from the path of flooding and danger.” (page 39)

Oklahoma’s declares in the state’s  2011 Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan, that FEMA’s mission is our mission.

The FEMA mission is: “Reduce the loss of life and property and protect our institution from all hazards by leading and supporting the nation in a comprehensive, risk-based emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.”

The Oklahoma State Hazard Mitigation Plan was written following this same precept. FEMA programs were reviewed and were integrated with the state mitigation planning process. The State of Oklahoma Hazard Mitigation Planning process aligns exactly with FEMA programs (page 33)

This is because in order for Oklahoma to qualify for these federal program, the state must conform.

“This Plan [The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan]is designed to fulfill the requirementsof the following programs available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)”
♦ Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM);
♦ Post-disaster assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP);
♦ Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA),
♦ Community Rating System Floodplain Management Planning (CRS);
♦ Severe Repetitive Loss Program (SRL);
♦ Repetitive Flood Claims Program (RFC).

I wish I had good news for you new floodplain dwellers but I don’t .  Although the plan is technically voluntary, there is a catch or two.

“The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Participation in NFIP by municipalities, counties, and tribal organizations is voluntary” (2011 Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan)

If a community does not participate residents cannot get flood insurance and in the event a presidential disaster declaration is made, non participating communities will not be eligible for federal assistance. Source:About the National Flood Insurance Program: Community Participation

What makes it worse is that when a community agrees to participate in the NFIP they have to accept all of the regulations on development that FEMA imposes.  Those regulations are detrimental to property values.  Often property owners just give up in disgust and leave.  It is apparent that FEMA and those at the local level charged with implementing FEMA’s directives have  rolled sustainable development principles into hazard mitigation policy.

Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Link Between Hazard Mitigation and Livability” (FEMA 364) illustrates how communities, whether planning for hazard mitigation before a disaster or initiating recovery planning after a disaster, can integrate the concepts and principles of sustainable development into each phase of mitigation planning.  FEMA 364 also shows how disaster resistance can be a catalyst to help communities incorporate sustainable development practices into their day-to-day planning and development functions.

FEMA and the NFIP creating “Economic Dead Zones

“The National Flood Insurance Program is, in both its design and execution, the worst federal program that I have encountered in my time in the United States House of Representatives.
Once vibrant neighborhoods…in which flood insurance is mandated are effectively economic dead zones, because this program provides perverse disincentives to home ownership and to home improvement, which, over decades have effectively turned whole swaths of formerly vibrant urban neighborhoods into virtual ghost towns. …communities across America pay this mandatory flood tax and see no benefit…  —U.S. Representative Brian Higgins (D) New York, April 20, 2009 at a congressional hearing on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood map modernization program

If you want to know more, I recommend scanning over  The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan 

It is a daunting read but I found the first several pages manages to encapsulate enough information to give a good idea of what is going on.  You can also search the document for key words like “FEMA”, “sustainable”, “all-hazards”, “land-use”, “relocation” or any other keyword that strikes your fancy.

For an excellent overview and more information on FEMA’s re-mapping efforts, see OK-SAFE’s recent newsletter

Has Your Non-flooding Property Been Re-Mapped as Flood Zone?

OK-SAFE advises;

If you have had your non-flooding property (in Oklahoma) designated as flood zone/flood plain by either the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and/or FEMA (or FIMA), the Attorney General of Oklahoma may be interested in your situation.

Two people have agreed to be the contact persons for this effort.  Please have your paperwork together and organized, including any notes you may have taken about your conversations with OWRB, FEMA, or city officials.  Get names, titles, and contact information from everyone you have spoken with regarding this flood zone designation.  Include any before and after property assessments you may have.

  1. Northeast Oklahoma contact: Margaret Snow, email: msnow14@netzero.net  – this area includes Washington County, Rogers, etc.
  2. Rest of Oklahoma: Keith Shankle, email: kshankle@gmail.com

This past Sunday I had the honor of visiting with Amanda Teegarden and Don Wyatt on their weekly internet radio program “America in the Balance” about this issue.

My advice; Ask questions, demand answers and know your rights!

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“Dark Skies” Might Be a Hard Sell in Oklahoma

Kaye Beach

*Update June 15,2011

Like I said-Dark Skies might just be a hard sell…Due to an sudden “dark sky” event, the lighting ordinance proposal had to be postponed due to a mighty storm that appeared to centered right on top of the Norman Municipal complex area where the City Council meeting was being held last evening.

June 15, 2011

High winds tear roof from apartment building, snap power poles in Norman. . .

Down burst hits Norman, NWS says

The down burst was centralized in Norman, Pike said.

The storm hit and knocked out the power in the municipal building just before the lighting ordinance was to be considered.  The meeting had to be  canceled.  It has been rescheduled for June 21st.

June 14, 2011

If the idea of “Dark Skies” doesn’t give you are warm and fuzzy feeling all over, it could just be that you are an Oklahoman.

But don’t be so hasty.  There are more ominous aspects to this proposal than just the foreboding connotation of threatening weather that come to mind when dark skies are mentioned in these parts.

“Everyone is a citizen of the world. At some level we should all be its stewards with accountability toward preserving its environment. One component of that is the preservation of dark skies or the prevention of light pollution”

GLOBE at Night . . .enlists the help of students to collect data on the night sky conditions in their community and contribute to a worldwide database on light pollution.

Read more about Dark Skies Awareness

There will be a Norman City Council meeting today at 5:30 pm to include consideration of the controversial lighting ordinance.
CONFERENCE ROOM – MUNICIPAL BUILDING
201 WEST GRAY
TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2011 at 5:30 P.M.

See City Council Agenda

The proposed lighting ordinance is back up for a vote.

Norman Transcript Articles

June 11, 2011

Lighting Ordinance Resurfaces

April 13, 2011

Lighting ordinance draws opposition

The proposed ordinance, O-1011-44, is being presented as primarily an energy conservation measure.

SEC. 431.6 — COMMERCIAL OUTDOOR LIGHTING STANDARDS

(Established by Ord. No. O-1011-44 — ___, 2011)

1.         Purpose and Intent.  It is the intent of this Section to define practical and effective measures by which the obtrusive aspects of commercial outdoor light usage can be minimized, while preserving safety, security, and the nighttime use and enjoyment of property.  These measures are intended to reduce light spillover, minimize glare, and decrease resource waste.

Council Committee compromise version 6 7 11 Commercial Lighting vers 3 (2)-1

April 15,2011

Norman City Council and Public Discuss New Lighting Ordinance

Almost every seat was full on Tuesday night during the city council meeting; many were filled by students, all dressed in black shirts.

The students of Norman North High School’s astronomy club attended the city council meeting on Tuesday, April 12. They waited patiently in the back for their turn to speak their opinion to the city council. They all wore black shirts to show their support for the lighting ordinance. As the four students and one of their teachers stepped toward the podium, a power point presentation came up on the screen. The students passed forward a petition with 637 signatures in support of the proposed lighting ordinance proposed by the City Council.

http://simplysalmagundi.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/norman-city-council-and-public-discuss-new-lighting-ordinance/

Norman Public School teachers apparently are using our taxes to indoctrinate school kids on new   “rights” and using them to instigate the implementation of city policy that offers us these new “rights” invented by international organizations  in lieu of long established natural and legal ones.

The students, however, are to be commended.  They overcame the usual apathy and turned out in force to defend what they are being taught is a right.

The Starlight Initiative

An unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right of humankind equivalent to all other environmental, social, and cultural rights, due to its impact on the development of all peoples and on the conservation of biodiversity.”
Starlight Declaration. La Palma, Spain 2008.

http://www.starlight2007.net/theinitiative.htm

Too bad the schools aren’t teaching about them about their true rights to life, liberty and property that are recognized and guaranteed to each and every one of us by law in the United States.   For the first time, I am thankful that my daughter chose the more physical and less academic route at Norman North.  I don’t think I could face this sort of  public realization that my tax dollars had been used in this manner.

Outside Agitators

“Grzybowski said the class is Norman’s outside agitators to the city for the issue of light pollution, encouraging City Council to preserve the night sky by passing lighting ordinances”

“The students — steered by Norman North astronomy teacher Eileen Grzybowski — have collected readings throughout Norman as part of Globe Night 2010, a worldwide campaign to fight light pollution —“

(Source March 15, 2010  Star light, star bright  The Norman Transcript)

GLOBE Night 2010 centerpiece of the Dark Skies Awareness Global Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) in 2009 a UNESCO initiative.  (More information below)

Mrs. Grzybowski’s husband is the author of this publication;

The Canadian River and floodplain in Norman, Oklahoma: Environmental perspective

Joseph A Grzybowski (Author)

Unfortunately, Amazon.com lists this publication as out of print

Joseph A. Grzybowski, Ph.D. is a Biologist/Ornithologist [scientist who studies birds]and Professor who serves on various local, regional and national committees involving endangered species and environmental management.” link

IYA2009 Boosts Globe at Night to Record Number of Dark-Skies Observations

Source: International Year of Astronomy 2009 Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Norman, Oklahoma, high school students, their teachers and local amateur astronomers produced a map of nearly 500 SQM measurements that canvassed their city. Local teacher and amateur astronomer Eileen Grzybowski, with students Brittany, Emily and Braden, then made a well-received presentation of the results to their local Environmental Control Advisory Board. (Emphasis mine)

They [the City of Norman’s Environmental Control Advisory Board]  want us to partner with them and be the outside agitating voice in the newspapers and elsewhere to put the issue of revising our lighting ordinances front and center, Grzybowski reported.

They[the City of Norman’s Environmental Control Advisory Board] made suggestions as to how the presentation could be revised to make a bigger impact.

They want us to obtain pictures taken from the sky down to the Earth from an airplane and pictures of our ground-based sites of high light pollution and dark oases, and they want us to include data about security issues and cost savings. http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=28094

**See below for information regarding the IYA2009 and “GLOBE at Night”

 

“Our next step is to go before the City Council and do the light demo and discuss our preliminary results.” Says Grzybowski

Which they did on May 13, 2010.

NORMAN PLANNING COMMISSION

REGULAR SESSION AGENDA

MAY 13, 2010

 

PRESENTATION BY EILEEN GRZYBOWSKIS SCIENCE CLASS OF THEIR STUDENT LIGHTING PROJECT.

Link

City of Norman Environmental Control Advisory Board

Investigates, prepares plans for, and recommends programs regarding the preservation and enhancement of the environmental quality of the City as well as administers variance procedures in the Air Quality Control Ordinance. Meets the 3rd Wednesday; 5:30 p.m., Norman Municipal Building Multi-Purpose Room, 201 West Gray. (3-year term)

US Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement

Members

  • Amanda Rook – 07/14/09 – 07/14/09 – 10/27/12 – 5
  • Mark Jensen  – 11/10/09 – 11/10/09 – 10/27/12- 2
  • Dr. Moira Waterbury – 11/10/09 – 11/10/09 – 10/27/12 – 5
  • Asia Scudder – 04/27/10 – 04/27/10 – 10/27/13  – 4
  • Yves Badaroux – 04/27/10 – 04/27/10 – 10/27/13 – 3
  • Dave Boeck – 04/10/07 – 10/27/10 – 10/27/13 – 4
  • Larry Steele, CHAIR – 10/27/08 – 10/27/08 – 10/27/11 – 7
  • Jane Dye – 10/27/05 – 10/27/08 – 10/27/11 – 7
  • Neil Suneson – 08/09/05 – 10/27/08 – 10/27/11 – 2

http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/content/environmental-control-advisory-board

About those Dark Skies

2007 First meeting of the Starlight Reserves Working Group.

The overall aim is to discuss the problems of identification of specific catego­ries of natural sites, skyscapes, cultural nightscapes, and excep­tional sites for astronomical observation, as “Starlight Reserves” for their possible nominations on the World Heritage List.

www.starlight2007.net/pdf/ProgFVStarlight.pdf

 

IYA 2009
The United Nations declares 2009 the International Year of Astronomy.

20 December 2007: the United Nations 62nd General Assembly proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. The Resolution was submitted by Italy, Galileo Galilei’s home country. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is an initiative of the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO.

THE STARLIGHT INITIATIVE (Granting all the “right” to observe the stars which will obviously clash with your right to light your property!)

An unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right of humankind equivalent to all other environmental, social, and cultural rights, due to its impact on the development of all peoples and on the conservation of biodiversity.”
Starlight Declaration. La Palma, Spain 2008.

http://www.starlight2007.net/theinitiative.htm

The initiative is designed as an international campaign in defence of the values associated with the night sky and the general right to observe the stars. It is open to the participation of all scientific, cultural, environmental, and citizens’ organizations and associations, as well as public institutions and other public and private bodies willing to effectively cooperate in the conservation of clear skies and the dissemination of the knowledge related with their observation. The final aim of the initiative is to strengthen the importance of clear skies for humankind, emphasizing and introducing the value of this endangered heritage for science, education, culture, technological development, nature conservation, tourism and, obviously, as a quality-of-life factor.

http://www.starlight2007.net/theinitiative.htm

GLOBE at Night is a fun, international citizen-science event that encourages everyone— students, educators, dark sky advocates and the general public— to measure the darkness of their local skies and contribute their observations online to a world map. The program is a centerpiece of the Dark Skies Awareness Global Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) in 2009. Its goal is to raise public awareness of the impact of artificial lighting on local environments by getting people involved. http://www.darkskiesawareness.org/gan.php

GLOBE at Night in Norman

United States: 475 Sky Quality Meter measurements & 475 Orion measurements during GLOBE at Night in Norman, Oklahoma àlighting inventory for city

http://www.starlight2007.net/pdf/lapalma2009/WalkerS4.pdf

Dark Skies initiatives are concerned with land development control policies and part of a “Global Assessment” done on behalf of an International Union

GLOBAL ASSESSMENT OF LIGHT POLLUTION IMPACT ON PROTECTED AREAS

The Dark Skies Advisory Group of the Specialist Group works to reduce light pollution and protect a natural night sky. While it focuses primarily on protected areas and sites, the group is also concerned with appropriate design and land development control policies.

www.interenvironment.org/pa/dark.htm

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the

world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a

democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and

NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists

in more than 160 countries.

www.iucn.org

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes the importance of natural darkness to the ecological integrity of protected areas, and to the sustainability of healthy lives in healthy cities.  The Dark Skies Advisory Group has been established within IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas to help advance this recognition. 

“. . .ecosystems and wild species operate 24 hours each day, seven days each week.  They have evolved to cope with, depend on and take advantage of natural darkness.  A night sky without artificial light is therefore vital to the proper functioning of natural ecosystems.  Artificial lighting affects species migration patterns, predator-prey relationships, and the circadian rhythms of many organisms, to name just a few of the consequences of light pollution.”

Web site of the IUCN Dark Skies Advisory Group

The IUCN’s official mission is “to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”

Members of the IUCN include the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, US Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior National Park Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, and hundreds of other federal, state and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and land trusts

Naturally-The Sierra Club supports the proposed lighting ordinances in Norman.

It is imperative that all Sierra Club members attend this important meeting to ensure that the proposed lighting ordinance remains effective and is even strengthened.

We also continue to urge Sierra Club members to individually contact their council members and the mayor asking them to adopt this ordinance as it is currently proposed or even strengthening the ordinance. Contact information including email addresses are located here for council members: http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/content/city-council and here for the mayor: http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/content/mayor.

http://www.oklahoma.sierraclub.org/redearth/newsletter/2011AprNewsletter.html

 “Dark Skies” Might Be a Hard Sell in Oklahoma 6 14 11 pdf

Norman Oklahoma: Where the Wild Things Are

Norman, Oklahoma: Where The Wild Things Are

Part I

Kaye Beach

June 09, 2011 (edited for clarification purposes June 12, 2011)

A few weeks ago I got an email detailing the controversy over Norman’s Storm Water Master Plan and a couple of proposed ordinances that had some people up in arms.

The issues that were brought to my attention centered on the proposed Water Quality Protection Zones and the approval of a Storm Water Master Plan for the City of Norman.

ORDINANCE NO. O-1011-52: AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NORMAN, OKLAHOMA, AMENDING CHAPTER 19 OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF NORMAN TO PROVIDE FOR STANDARDS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR A DESIGNATED WATER QUALITY PROTECTION ZONE INCLUSIVE OF THE LAKE THUNDERBIRD WATERSHED;

Legislation Details (With Text)

ORDINANCE NO. O-1011-53: AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NORMAN, OKLAHOMA, AMENDING CHAPTER 22 OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF NORMAN TO ADDSECTION 429.7 CREATING A ZONING OVERLAY DISTRICT FOR THE WATER QUALITY PROTECTION ZONE AND AMENDING SECTION 441(11) PROVIDING FOR SUBMITTALS FOR A VARIANCE FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE WATER QUALITY PROTECTION ZONING OVERLAY DISTRICT; AND PROVIDING FOR THE SEVERABILITY THEREOF.

Legislation Details (With Text)

The Storm Water Master Plan (SWMP) is supposed to;

Satisfy regulatory requirements including the mandated OPDES MS4 storm water quality permitting program and identify problems and solutions associated with stream flooding, including;

  • stream erosion,
  • local drainage problems
  • water quality

Enhance recreational opportunities and protect the environment.

The Storm Water Master plan is supposed to accomplish these goals with input from all stakeholders, the plan is to receive public input and is to also provide public education on important issues, and help maintain public support into the future.(Source “SWMP Summary Statement Executive Summary” page ES-8)

Dr. Baxter Vieux, a local professor and water quality expert, says that Lake Thunderbird which supplies Norman and surrounding areas with drinking water, has unacceptable levels of chlorophyll-a due to algae growth which is bad for water quality and causes difficulty for wildlife.  (The Norman Transcript May 30, 2011 Adopting SWMP first step)

The problem is that the new zoning that is required to implement the Water Quality Protection Zones (WQPZ ) and the Storm Water Master Plan (SWMP) will have an impact on property rights.

From the City of Norman’s FAQ on the ordinances;

Zoning Overlay District (O-1011-53): The City’s zoning ordinance regulates the use of property. Your existing zoning of your property does not change with these ordinances. The current use of your property does not change either; however, new construction and new developments in areas that aren’t already platted or subdivided would be required to follow it. The proposed overlay district would restrict new uses of property within the WQPZ.


To clarify-new development within at least 100 feet of every stream or drainage ditch within the Lake Thunderbird watershed would be restricted from any new development in varying degrees. The current zoning of the properties would not change but if the owner wished to develop the land in a way that may have been permitted when he or she purchased and does not get permission prior to the ordinance change then they are out of luck.

The two ordinances are scheduled to be considered by the City Council on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 6:30pm in the Council Chambers in the City
Municipal Building at 201 W. Gray Street.  Read the FAQ

In examining the issue,  It is apparent that these ordinances will be followed by similar and increasingly restrictive property regulations which is why it is important to view these changes in their proper historical and philosophical context.

I don’t own real estate in Norman but I do cherish my rights

A right is simply that which we are all entitled to.  All rights are, in essence, are our property.

This what James Madison meant when he said,

‘‘as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.’’

When I started looking into this issue, all I wanted to know was if these measures, which demand control over private property, are legally just and necessary?

It’s about water quality, water quality, water quality.  We can’t emphasize that enough.”–Shawn O’Leary, Norman Public Works Director

Whenever the government uses its police power to take away property rights people are usually suspicious of the motive and want ample evidence that the taking is just.  I think this is a very healthy reaction.  This was my motive for looking into the matter.

We have a high percentage of private property ownership in this state. I believe it is one of Oklahoma’s greatest strengths but some see private property ownership as a barrier to “sustainable development”

If the cause of action is just and necessary then the government has stayed within its purview of protecting the rights of all and has not infringed upon the rights of anyone.  If the cause cannot be proved to be necessary, then the government has perverted the law, infringing where it should be only be protecting.  The power of government is simply and extension of our power and should be used to protect our rights.  The police power of government should never be abused by taking from some for the benefit of a few.

Where do property rights come from?

I think certain rights are unalienable, that they were granted to us all by our Creator and cannot be taken from us.  Life, Liberty and Property are among these natural rights. These rights did not come from the government and the government cannot morally revoke them. This happens to the premise that this nation’s laws are based upon so for all of you who also believe this to be true, you are on firm ground.

Furthermore, I believe that,

We all have a duty to ensure, for the benefit of generations to come, that our government respects the unalienable rights granted us by our Creator and paid for in blood by those that came before us.

Not everyone believes this way.

On May 22, 2011 George Ingels gave this opinion in the The Norman Transcript;

Community’s needs outweigh the rights of property owners

Mr. Ingels writes,

“As a long-term elected official of the now-annexed town of Hall Park, I was confronted many times by issues that pitted the needs of the community against the rights of the individual homeowner, and I had to develop a viewpoint that would be helpful to me in my decisions” (Emphasis mine)

That “community” is made up of individuals.  All of those individuals have the same exact rights.  Calling a collection of individuals a “community” does not change anything at all unless he is suggesting that Hall Park operated under mob rule.

We do not give up our rights because we live in a community.

Mr. Ingels concludes;

“It is now down to the decision of whether the requirements of the community should outweigh the rights of certain property owners and developers to use their property as they wish.”

This is a highly Utilitarian view.  The Utilitarian perspective holds that the right thing to do is that which would cause “the greatest good for the greatest number”   It also means your rights are conditional, subject to the whims of society.

I disagree with his premise entirely but think that it will be worthwhile to find out just who comprises this “community” that he speaks of and to find out exactly what it is they require and why.

Jane Ingels, George Ingels’ wife also weighed in on the issue in an opinion piece co-written with Lytha Wesner that was published in the Norman Transcript on May 24, 2011.   The two women, both members of the Norman Storm Water Task Force, seemed indignant by any suggestion that they might be moving too fast on these ordinances.

Ordinances weren’t a rushed-up job

Tonight, the Norman City Council will consider two ordinances that would take the first steps to seriously address the increasing problems of storm water runoff that directly affect businesses, homeowners and taxpayers, the problems of flooding and water quality

. . .The two ordinances that are now before the council are the result of many months of study, research and discussion involving countless meetings and hours by the task force in order to find solutions that are flexible, effective, legal and — above all — fair. This was not a rushed-up job, as opponents now claim.

Every effort was made to address legitimate concerns and even non-legitimate “concerns”

Read more

These ladies claim that they have made every effort to address all concerns even the “non-legitimate” ones.  Legitimate in this context I take to mean authentic or genuine. It seems like to me any concern expressed by any member of the community should be considered legitimate unless the person expressing it was, perhaps, insane. If this is the case, the two ladies are to be commended on their patience.

According to another article published in the Norman Transcript on the very same day as Ingels’ and Wesner’s editorial was published, it does appear that the City Council neglected to notify the actual property owners potentially affected by the ordinances as required by law before attempting to implement the zoning changes. As I understand it, this is why the vote on the two ordinances had to be postponed.

Just like The Ingels’, Lytha Wesner and her husband Charles make a dynamic duo.  Charles Wesner is the Chair of the Oklahoma Sierra Club.

Here are some of the other task forces, boards, commissions etc. that Lyntha Wesner and Jane Ingels are or have been a member of.

Lyntha Wesner

  • Norman Storm Water Task Force
  • Founding member and Chair of the Norman Area Land Conservancy, Inc.
  • Chair of the Greenbelt Commission
  • Member of the Greenbelt Task Force
  • co-author of Norman’s Park Land Dedication ordinance
  • Citizens Committee on Norman 2020 Plan
  • Citizens Committee on Norman 2025 Plan
  • Member of the Greenbelt Task Force
  • Member of the local and state chapters of the Sierra Club

Jane Ingels

  • Norman Storm Water Task Force
  • Greenbelt Commission Chair
  • Citizens Task Force for the Storm Water Master Plan.
  • Former member of the Norman School Board

Almost as soon as began the research on the SWMP I realized that it was inseparable from Norman’s longstanding efforts to create a Greenbelt system.  This is entirely by design.

Side Benefits

In 2005, Wesner and Ingels, along with seven other members of the City of Norman’s Greenbelt Commission, according to this article Greenbelt Commission recommends stormwater utility, trails plan” in the Norman Transcript,  concluded that,

“establishing the Greenbelt System was  essential to supporting Norman’s wild and green spaces.”

A “New Approach” is Needed

The Greenbelt Commissions report to the City Council recommended the creation of a Storm Water Utility and the development of a regional plan stating that,

 “a new approach to managing storm water runoff and other natural water drainage systems would have the side benefit of augmenting the greenbelt system.”

Read all of the Greenbelt Commissions recommendations in the 2005 Greenbelt One Year Report.

Greenbelt Commission Year One Report

It would also sidestep the law.  Getting property owners to give up their development rights through voluntary devices like buying “conservation easements” which locks up land forever from and future  development, was not working fast enough for them.  The proposed ordinances are simply conservation easements that are taken rather than purchased.


The Norman Area Land Conservancy NALC

The Greenbelt Commission acknowledged that the creation of the Greenbelt System for Norman would have to be done in a piecemeal fashion and that it would take a concerted effort on behalf of the City Council to get the job done and recommended the City partner with the Norman Area Land Conservancy (NALC) to help the city acquire land for the Greenbelt System.

Read more

The Norman Area Land Conservancy, established in 2000, is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation organized to assist in implementing long-term environmental objectives.

Founding Members of the Norman Area Land Conservancy

Marion Bauman

Robert C. Goins, Vice-chair

Harold Heiple

Edwin Kessler

John Raeside, Treasurer

Jacci L. Rodgers

Lee Rodgers, Secretary

Lyntha Wesner, Chair

Patrick Copeland, Executive Director

The Norman Area Land Conservancy states that it is guided by the Norman Greenbelt Plan. NALC was also initiated by the same fellow who is given much credit for the Greenbelt Plan, Lee Rodgers.

NALC became a member of the Land Trust Alliance in the same year it was founded, 2000 and has formally agreed to abide by the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices

“. . .the Land Trust Alliance,  serves as an umbrella group for local land trusts.” —A Brief History of Conservation Planning by Reed Noss, Wildlands Project founder via LandScope.org

Patrick Copeland, who is listed as an Advisor to the 1997 Norman Greenbelt Report is listed as the contact for the Norman Area Land Conservancy on the Land Trust Alliance’s website. He’s a founding member the Executive Director of the Norman Area Land Conservancy.

Patrick Copeland has been the development services manager for Norman since 1994, is on the Norman Storm Water Master Plan Project Team and is credited for drawing up the Norman Greenbelt maps for the 2002 “Green Dreams” Report and Recommendations on Forming a Greenbelt System.

As carefully noted in the “Green Dreams” report;

“The Task Force was very cautious and chose not to include any maps in their report, as they did not want to suggest in any way that any specific properties were “targeted by their group”. Therefore, while the attached maps are not part of the Greenbelt Task Force report, I believe they will help clarify some of the material presented in the report.”

Patrick Copeland is also a member of ACOG’s (Association of Central Oklahoma Governments) INTERMODAL TRANSPORTATION TECHNICAL COMMITTEE

The Real Problem

Shifting mind sets

“The City of Norman, with the creation of the Greenbelt Commission and development of the Storm Water Master Plan have taken the initial steps toward shifting mind sets.”

This is from a report commissioned by the Norman area Sierra Club (which goes by the name “The Red Earth Group” in Norman) critiquing Inhofe Creek.  The writer of the report, Russell C. Dutnell, is also a former member of the Norman Storm Water Task Force.

He admits that the Norman engineers have done a good job in creating a storm water drainage system that prevents flooding by quickly and efficiently conveying elsewhere which is exactly what they were assigned to do.  The Sierra Club, however, opens the report by referring Inhofe Creek as a “gaping wound”

The real problem is, according to Mr.Dutnell, that these creeks are (or should be) so much more than drainage systems.

“They are harbingers of life, of ecosystems that have evolved with the pulsating rhythm of low flows and high flows, of low energy and high.”

Read More

In order to tease out the answer to my question, “Are these measures which demand control over private property legally just and necessary?,  I had to study the history and development of Norman’s Greenbelt Plan.

Norman Greenbelt History

Greenbelts are generally focused on growth management and open space preservation

According to our city planning documents, in Norman, greenbelts are specifically used as a way to protect natural areas and open space with a system of land parcels.  The greenbelt is to be created by linking existing parks and green space areas, both publicly and privately owned by a system of trails.

-In the mid 1990’s Norman first recognized the greenbelt plan by including it as one of their five goals in the Norman 2020, the city’s first comprehensive planning document issued in 1996.

The reasons stated for creating a Greenbelt System were to protect environmentally sensitive lands and to create multipurpose greenbelt corridors that would connect existing parks and other open space areas.

-The City Council then appointed the Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee to study the merits and feasibility of a greenbelt system as suggested in the Norman 2020 document.

CITIZENS GREENBELT STEERING COMMITTEE

  • Marion Bauman
  • Dick Reynolds
  • Jim McCampbell
  • Jim Sipes
  • Gene McKown
  • Lyntha Wesner
  • Lee Rodgers, Chair and Report Editor
  • Richard Massie, Director of Planning and Community Development
  • Patrick Copeland, Advisor to the Committee

In 1997 the Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee produced a document entitled “A Report on Greenbelts and Greenways for Norman, Oklahoma” for the City Council.

Policies identified with the goal of creating a Greenbelt System include:

  1. Use greenbelts to preserve environmentally sensitive lands. . .
  2. Use the greenbelt area to link together existing recreation areas.
  3. Create a multipurpose greenbelt corridor

-In 1998 an ordinance was passed creating the Greenbelt Task Force.

In 1999 Lee Rodgers, the Greenbelt Steering Committee chair was asked to recommend a “Proposed Study and Scope of Work” for establishing a Greenbelt System.

On February 22, 2000, the City Council created the Greenbelt Commission and appointed [35] members to draft a plan. Greenbelt History

In 2000 the Greenbelt Task Force was appointed to draft a plan for the Greenbelt system and in 2002 issued a report entitled;

GREEN DREAMS” Report and Recommendations on Forming a Greenbelt System for the City of Norman.  

The “Green Dreams” report identified three important elements that for Norman’s greenbelt and green way development.

  • The 100 year floodplains,
  • Prime (and locally significant) farmlands,
  • Parcels greater than 37 acres in size.

-On May 11, 2004 The Greenbelt Commission was created by ordinance.

The Greenbelt Commission advises the City Council on policies pertaining to the promotion, acquisition, maintenance, and improvement of the open spaces, greenways, and trail way systems in the City of Norman” Greenbelt Commission Information Page

Major Recommendations of the Greenbelt Commission

-On November 10 2009 The City Council accepted the draft Greenway Master Plan in conjunction with the Storm Water Master Plan

On Nov 24, 2009 The City Council adopted the Norman Parks and Recreation Master Plan entitled “A Legacy For The Next Generation

http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/parks/parks-recreation-master-plan

Regarding the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, the Sierra Club/ Red Earth Group writes;

A regional park along the South Canadian River is a high priority that would protect the local ecology, flood plain, and provide for a pedestrian and bicycle trail. This goal is a high priority in the recently completed Parks & Recreation Master Plan (see http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/parks/parks-recreation-master-plan).

They say that the “Master Plan calls for “Acquisition of lands along the Little River corridor and the Canadian River will help with flood control and provide opportunities for nature preserves.”

Download the Parks & Recreation Master Plan

-On November 10, 2010 a subcommittee of the Greenbelt developed amendments to the existing Greenbelt Commission ordinance.

Adopted Greenbelt Commission Ordinance as of November 11, 2010

Sec. 4-2026. – Specific principles, purposes and goals of the Greenbelt System.

A Greenbelt System, as defined herein, serves the following principles, purposes and goals of the City of Norman.

 (1) The ultimate goal is to create an interconnected system of trails that allow multiple connections across all of Norman.

(2) The Greenbelt System should preserve valuable green space, natural habitat and key areas with existing vegetation.

(5) Trails should promote smooth walkable corridors that are open and visible.

(6) The Greenbelt System should contribute to enhancing the physical appearance of the City, whether through new pedestrian features, landscaping added to trail corridors, or simply by revealing natural areas not previously visible to the general public.

(7) The Greenbelt System should encourage the creation of public and private partnerships that help build the entire system more quickly.

(8) Greenbelts should protect environmentally sensitive lands . . .especially floodprone areas and riparian corridors, and provide connectivity between the elements of the Greenbelt System.

(b) The use of lot clustering should be encouraged as a means to develop the Greenbelt System.

(c) The Greenbelt System should be used to link together existing recreation areas.

(d) Multipurpose greenways should be created that:

(1) Create a unique greenway characterfor Norman;

(2) Protect the environmentally sensitive areas of the City and serve as a wildlife habitat;

(All Emphasis mine)

Greenbelt Enhancement Statement (GES)

A GES according ARTICLE XXI GREENBELT COMMISSION  “a statement on a form provided to the applicant by the City Planning and Community Development Department that is to be included with all applications for a Land Use Plan amendment, a Norman Rural Certificate of Survey or preliminary platting of land and submitted for consideration by the Commission that articulates how the principles, purposes, and goals of The Greenbelt System are met by the proposed development.”

In brief, Article XXI 4-2027 deals with Greenbelt Enhancement Statements.  It requires “All applications for a Pre-Development meeting regarding a proposed Land Use Plan amendment, a Norman Rural Certificate of Survey or preliminary platting of land in the City shall include a Greenbelt Enhancement Statement.”

Norman Greenbelt Enhancement Statement

Persons wishing to develop property in Norman are required to explain how they propose to incorporate open space into the development, whether or not it will include any sort of trail and how this trail will connect a public open space (such as a park or trail) with ½ of a mile of the property they wish to develop.

If the property is near a schools, recreational areas, commercial sites, or residential neighborhood, the Greenbelt Commission prefers that your project provide “connectivity points” to promote non motorized transportation such as walking or bicycling.  They also want you to list any features of the property that might be useful to Norman’s greenbelt system.

The Greenbelt Commission will then consider how your property may contribute to the greater good and make their recommendations which will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and City Council to be factored into their decision about approval or non-approval of your request.

(Source Greenbelt Commission update)

Malthusian Planners?

Going back to the initial Greenbelt report done by the appointed Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee in 1997, what is obvious is that the creation of interconnected green corridors that preserve nature in a “pristine state” for the sake of wilderness preservation and wildlife habitat is central to purpose served by a greenbelt system.

“There is a rich diversity of wild life throughout the riparian corridors of the Canadian and Little Rivers and their tributaries”, writes Lee Rodgers, the chairman of the greenbelt steering committee and author of the 1997 report.

Joseph Lee Rodgers, Jr. has been extremely involved in city planning and the creation of Norman’s Greenbelts.  He was credited by the Norman Greenbelt Commission for working “for a decade to gather information and raise awareness for this project”

In 1953, Lee Rodgers earned the first masters degree from the new regional and city planning program at the university [OU], where he became director of the Institute of Community Development. In 1961, he was named chair of the planning program which he directed for 24 years until his retirement in 1985

Lee Rodgers was named a David Ross Boyd professor of planning, and in 2001 he became a Fellow of the American Planning Association, the national organization’s highest honor.

. . .he initiated the organization of the Norman Area land Conservancy and he has been instrumental in the establishment of the ongoing Norman greenbelt and greenway programs.

Source Local couple celebrates 60th anniversary

I was reading over some of Rodgers’ papers which focus on human behavior, fertility, class intelligence and the like which frankly struck me as rather Malthusian but I shrugged it off.

[Thomas]Malthus was a political economist who was concerned about, what he saw as, the decline of living conditions in nineteenth century England. He blamed this decline on three elements: The overproduction of young; the inability of resources to keep up with the rising human population; and the irresponsibility of the lower classes. To combat this, Malthus suggested the family size of the lower class ought to be regulated such that poor families do not produce more children than they can support. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/malthus.html

Then I stumbled upon this information.

From 1994-1998, he was the president of The Society for the Study of Social Biology , the successor of the American Eugenics Society .  Joseph Lee Rodgers was also on the board of the Society for the Study of Social Biology from 2000-2006 and again in 2009.

I feel an unbearable pressure to unleash a cliché at this point so let me get it over with.  I don’t make the news, I’m just reporting it.

If you are unfamiliar with what eugenics is all about, this site for The American Bioethics Advisory Commission provides an excellent overview.

American Eugenics Society was founded in 1922 and the name was changed to The Society for the Study of Social Biology in 1973 According to The American Life League, a Catholic Pro-Life organization, the name change did “not correspond to any alteration in the goals of the Society.”

In 2009 the name of the Society was changed once again to The Society of Biodemography and Social Biology.  The site lists a “Joe Rodgers” as a member of the current Board of Directors but I can’t be certain if this is the same person as Joseph Lee Rogers.  It might make for a lively discussion though. Next time you run into him at a dinner party or something, maybe you could ask.

If you are interested,  Between Quality and Quantity: The Population Council and the Politics of “Science-making” in Eugenics and Demography, 1952-1965, provides an insightful study of the transition that led to the eventual name change of the American Eugenics Society.

According to Lee Rogers and the Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee,  thirty plus “open space” plans were reviewed by the Greenbelt Steering Committee and the report cites the “English Garden City” movement and the “New Town Movement” as sources of inspiration.

The English Garden City movement was spawned by the book “Garden Cities of To-Morrow” by Ebenezer Howard.  You can read this book online.

Garden Cities of To-morrow By Ebenezer Howard

The Garden City principles of planning espoused by Ebenezer Howard also enamored Soviet urban planners. (See The Ideal Soviet Suburb: Social Change Through Urban Design by WM. Stephen Scott)

“The Soviets were particularly interested in Howard’s idea that the Garden City was to be a small, communal place, where the municipality would collectively own property.”

WM. Stephen Scott reminds us in The Ideal Soviet Suburb: Social Change Through Urban Design , that while we may think of “communism as a political and economic system, it was also a culture. . .Architecture and city planning were used as tools to further the communist social agenda of liberalizing the household, collectively sharing goods and cultivating individuals through cultural institutions. . .”

Scott closes his review of planning methods favored by the Soviets by contrasting Soviet ideals with Western ones.

The Western single-family home is a self-contained unit — a place to put purchased goods, to cook, to entertain guests, to raise children. Soviet plans deliberately attempted to prevent this bourgeois lifestyle by reducing the amount of personal space and offloading previously private functions into the public realm.

Collectivization required new collective entities: dining halls, laundromats, boarding schools, and open space were included in Soviet plans to a greater extent than in the West. Collectivization also implied clustered, high-density residential quarters, while in the West the standalone home was the ideal. Naturally, Soviets planned fewer churches, shopping districts, and private lawns, reflecting the fundamental difference between the ideal Soviet communal lifestyle and Western customs.

You have to ask yourself if the American values are being purposely crowded out by the comprehensive planning schemes being promoted and placed by eco and social activists all across this land.

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God; and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.

—John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. July 16, 1814

The 1997 Norman Greenbelt Report explains that,

“The long term success of a Norman Greenbelt and Greenway Plan is entirely dependent on the continuing and enthusiastic support of many coalitions of citizen interest groups. These groups need to be identified and involved in the planning and implementation process. They will have much to contribute to any community wide open space system and environmental protection plan that may evolve.”

NGO’s

Citizen Interest Groups are commonly NGO’s or Non Governmental Organizations.

From The American Policy Center;

The phrase “non-governmental organization” came into use with the establishment of the United Nations Organization in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter. The term describes a consultative role for organizations that are neither government nor member states of the UN.

Read more about NGO’s  and how they operate

The organizations have no legal definition but usually exist to promote political and social causes and as their name implies, they are not an official part of our government structure.  They are, however, often funded by government agencies and are often very involved in policy making.  NGO’s have their own agenda and as most activists groups tend to be, they are highly motivated to see their pet issue propped up by law or policy.  So, what citizen groups do you expect would be highly motivated to participate in city planning policy?

One would hope that the average citizen would want to be involved in policy making that will affect their property and environment.  This is usually not the case because the average citizen is not an activist.

They read the news, talk to their neighbors and cast their votes accordingly.  From that point, most expect their elected officials to represent their interests and follow the established law of our nation and state.  What most people don’t realize is that, especially on the local level, our government is being transitioned to a participatory form of democracy. This is where the art of consensus is crucial.  The citizens invited to participate are micro-managed and intellectually corralled into a consensus (which means there is no vote)  If the voters understood this, they would be shocked because in the United States the form of government that is guaranteed us is a constitutional republican form of government, not a democracy.

As you might expect, it is the motivated individuals that stand to gain that have made it their business to understand the intricacies of municipal government.  These are the people who are helping form city policy by participating in the task forces, boards and committees.This is why you see the same names again and again on the various reports listed as members of this of that council or committee.

By and large these people have an interest in either conservation or and land development.  You might also notice that some of  these people are involved in organizations that represent both.   Most of us don’t fall into either category, yet our city policy is being shaped by these highly motivated individuals and we are told that the policies are what the  “community” has decided and are expected to quietly abide.

I am unconvinced that other methods to improve water quality have been fairly considered.  The idea of using buffer zones that restrict property rights, I believe were chosen to serve a host of other purposes unrelated to the ones were are being told and I will be posting further information that will make this abundantly clear.

Just to give you an idea, have you ever heard of LandScope?

Well they have heard of you and some of you are living on land that is targeted as a “Conservation Priority”

The truth is that eco activists have been working for many years to get Norman property out of the hands of private ownership so that they can manage it according to their own agenda.

Casting the issue as a community health and safety issue, they hope, will give them a legal leg to stand on.  This is why the water quality/storm water issue has been married to the greenbelt plan and the Greenbelt Plan is married to even bigger plans as I will show.

When I started looking into this issue, all I wanted to know was if these measures, which demand control over private property, are legally just and necessary?

What I found out was a lot more.

Look for Part II soon

Norman Oklahoma: Where the Wild Things Are

Share or Download  Norman Oklahoma: Where The Wild Things Are on Scribd


The Word of the Day is JURISDICTION

Kaye Beach

June 7, 2011

This from a press released issued by The Western Governors Association  last year on June 28.

Trans-boundary Wildlife Maps to be Completed in 3 Years

WHITEFISH, MONT. – Western Governors reaffirmed their commitment to work across political boundaries to tackle landscape-scale wildlife conservation through the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council and committed their state agencies to complete wildlife decision-support systems within the next three years. link

It is just one of many, many regional initiatives being pushed and funded by the federal government.  In this case, the Department of Energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $3 million for 17 states to develop the wildlife decision-support systems. The information will be accessible not only to governmental entities, but also landowners, conservation groups, industry and agricultural interests. Eight pilot projects across the West were launched earlier this month to begin developing these compatible systems.

Issues involving transportation, the economy, security and  the environment are all offered up as problems that must be managed regionally.  That argument has been made, mostly unsuccessfully, for decades.  The notable exception being transportation.

Back to the press release.

Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI, said “Ecosystems don’t know political boundaries, so conservation of the most important wildlife corridors, water and forest resources require cooperation across multiple public private entities.”

It isn’t the “ecosystem that doesn’t know political boundaries, it’s Ms. Jewell who is mistaken.  “Ecosystems” don’t exist until somebody decides they do.

What is an “ecosystem”?

According to the Franklin Institute for Science Learning;

Ecosystems vary in size. They can be as small as a puddle or as large as the Earth itself. Any group of living and nonliving things interacting with each other can be considered as an ecosystem.link

Jurisdiction (this word means something)

There is no such thing as an “ecosystem” except in these people’s imagination and if they want to draw the boundaries on ecosystems then they should concentrate on the ones that are within their own jurisdiction.

From the Legal Information Institute;

The term jurisdiction is really synonymous with the word “power”

Territory within which a court or government agency may properly exercise its power

If you intend to retain your right to representation and your ability to hold your officials accountable then don’t be fooled by the argument that we have all of these problems that can only be solved regionally.

In the event you find yourself evicted from your land so that the Lesser Prairie Chicken can have free run of the place, do you think the Western Governors Association will be responsive to your outrage?  No.  But your governor must be.

Chickens Don't Vote!

One of the pilot projects of the Western Governors Association focuses on the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

Oklahoma and Kansas
Oklahoma and Kansas are identifying crucial Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat across the five LPC states, which includes Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Once crucial habitat for the species is identified across the five-state region, the states will work together to assess risk of habitat loss in relation to various threats, such as wind energy development and agriculture. Ultimately the states will be developing a range-wide mapping tool that could be used to identify areas important for LPC conservation, as well as connecting corridors for population maintenance.

The Western Governors Association is big on wildlife corridors which obviously, like ecosystems, must be trans-boundary.   Of course the animals don’t vote or make campaign donations which makes me wonder why these Western Governors are so keen on locking up more land for them.  Call me cynical but I don’t think these Governors give a darn about the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

I am full of deviousness

The The Western Governors Association also has a “Western States Water Council” that is developing policy to manage this essential resource throughout the region.

The Western States Water Council is an organization consisting of representatives appointed by the governors of 18 western states.

They say that;

There is a growing consensus that, as watersheds
have emerged as the unit for management and action, they have become a rational framework for undertaking integrated resource management.

One question.  Who is they and who elected them to manage our resources in this manner?  They are blaming it all on the watersheds.
“watersheds have emerged as the unit for management . . .”  What does that mean?  The watersheds jumped up and volunteered?  How did the watersheds just  become a “rational framework” for what is a pointedly political “undertaking”?  They can’t even take responsibility for their decisions that are insulated by “consensus”.  Undertaking is right.  They are the Undertakers for the representative form of government that they are killing.

OK.  That was more than one question.  It appears from reading the WGA’s blurb of Water Strategies that the reports and recommendations were drawn up and later approved by the Governors.  It doesn’t say by whom.  In fact the blurb tells us that “the reports” made the conclusions!

If it all goes wrong you will know who to blame right?  The  “watersheds” and the “reports” who are obviously in cahoots on some grand water conspiracy.

Water Needs and Strategies for a Sustainable Future 

Two WGA reports, Water Needs and Strategies for a Sustainable Future (2006) and Next Steps (2008) concluded that there is substantial stress on the water sector today even in the absence of climate change.

These reports, approved by the Governors, include consensus recommendations for how the Western states can work with federal, local, and private sector partners to address these challenges. The reports address a range of issues, including providing water supply to meet future demands, maintaining water supply infrastructure, resolving Indian water rights, preparing for climate change, and conserving endangered species.

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When regional governance is legitimized that means you have compromised a little more of your  personal, state and national sovereignty.  Regional governance is the stepping stone to global governance and these days, those stepping stones are increasingly GREEN.

Conservation Easements and Your Property Rights

Kaye Beach

Dec 28, 2010

Surfing the ‘Net’ tonight, this article caught my eye.

Conservation Easements (CEs)*:Read the fine print before you sign

The fact that it caught my eye is solely due to the fact that I have been doing some “green reading” trying to get a handle on the array of sustainability policies making their presence known in our cities across the state of Oklahoma.

Conservation Easements are a featured topic of a report originating from Edmond Oklahoma that I read and posted about here recently.

Green Infrastructure Initiative Report to Stakeholders

City of Edmond and Edmond Land Conservancy
Facilitated Meetings Summary

According to the Edmond  report the ” Top Priorities for the Green Infrastructure Initiative” are:

  • Conserve forest lands in Edmond through a combination of regulations and incentives.
  • Educate landowners and promote use of conservation easements through educational materials and ongoing public awareness efforts.
  • Preserve floodplain and watershed lands through acquisition of conservation easements or, when necessary, whole properties.

The PPJ Gazette posts this warning to landowners about “conservation easements”;

”A normal easement by a landowner usually grants a right to someone to do something on the landowner’s property; but a conservation easement gives away the landowner’s rights to do something on his or her own property.

Land trusts and environmental groups regularly use conservation easements to take control of private property.”

A basic Constitutional tenet of private property ownership in America is the landowner’s right to determine the use and disposition of his or her land.   This ownership gives the property owner the right to occupy, use, lease, sell, develop, and deny public access to his or her land.   Today, landowners can lose these rights simply by signing a ‘standard’ or ‘model’ conservation easement (CE) offered by ‘nonprofit-environmental-friendly’ land trusts, NGO environmental organizations, or government agencies unless the easement has been worded to protect the landowner’s rights.

According to the PPJ’s post, “Land trusts exist to remove private property from production”

As the article recommends, check the wording on these easements to make sure that your property rights as a landowner are protected.

The informative posting goes on to explain how this works and what purpose it serves.  Highly recommended reading for land owners and especially perspective land owners.  

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Another great article about conservation easements;

Make an Informed Decision about Conservation Easements

Liberty Matters | Dan Byfield | December 2, 2010 –

If you’ve ever considered placing a conservation easement on your property, make sure you understand everything you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

Conservation easements are not an easement in the traditional sense.  Rather, they are better thought of as servitudes, restrictive covenants, or negative restrictions that run in perpetuity with the land.  There are only two entities that can legally hold them – non-profit land trusts and government agencies, which in most instances ought to raise red flags immediately.

Even the trusted Natural Resource Conservation Service is offering them in perpetuity or for lesser term of years, but be sure to find out from the IRS how much of a deduction, if any, you can claim for terms lesser than perpetuity.  The primary purpose of conservation easements is to tie up private property forever and it wasn’t until recently that lesser terms came into play.

Proponents of conservation easements like to say they are “voluntary agreements.” That is true, but once signed, they are nothing of the sort.  But, everyone recognizes that it is strictly the right and choice of the individual landowner to place a conservation easement on their land.

To make an informed decision about conservation easements, landowners need all the facts.

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Oklahoma Conservation Easement Enabling Statutes

From the Oklahoma Bar Association 2000;

Description of Conservation Easements

A conservation easement is a non-possessory interest in real property created through a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a qualified entity chosen by the landowner to “hold” or enforce the easement. The easement then imposes upon the parties and their successors use restrictions or affirmative obligations to protect some aspect of the property which has conservation or preservation value.

The Act permits the parties to agree upon the term of the easement.8 However, in order for the owner to receive federal tax benefits, the easement must be perpetual.9 Most conservation and historic preservation groups will accept only perpetual easements.10 For these reasons, conservation easements are typically perpetual.

Easement Incentive Cosponsors in the 111th Congress

An amazing 267 Representatives from all 50 states — including majorities of both parties — have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1831!  Senate legislation, S. 812, now has 41 co-sponsors. Scroll down below to see if your Senators and Representatives have signed-on in the new congress.