Kretz blasts Seattle environmental group over dishonest communications about his rural landowner, local government protection bill

Futurewise e-mail 'filled with bogus information aimed at ginning up their base and raising money,' says Kretz

A downtown Seattle environmental group, operating without adequate understanding of Ferry County, this week sent out a “tall-tale” e-mail to their supporters asking for donations to sue the county and slamming Rep. Joel Kretz's common-sense proposal to give relief to small, struggling local governments and rural landowners.

The Futurewise communication in question referred to House Bill 1094, which would allow four counties that voluntarily opted into the Growth Management Act (GMA), and subsequent land-use planning processes, to opt-out of the program. The only counties impacted by House Bill 1094 would be Ferry, Pend Oreille, Columbia and Garfield.

This proposal prompted the dishonest e-mail, which in part reads, “In Ferry County alone, the GMA saved 750,000 acres of farmland.” Additionally, the group's Web site reads, “So quite literally, without Futurewise, Ferry County's 749,452 acres of land in farms and ranches would be at continuing risk of conversion. Well on their way of being paved over, forever.”

Contrary to the group's claims, according to the manager of the Ferry County Conservation District, Ferry County only has 298,340 acres of privately-owned land. Of the private land, very little is farmland. Because of the rugged nature of the district, the majority of private property is range land, rivers, lakes and mountain peaks. The remaining 1,128,646 acres in the county consists of 29,735 acres of state land, 493,152 acres of federal land and 605,759 acres are controlled by tribal governments.

“Clearly, the great thinkers in the downtown Seattle office of Futurewise must be inhaling mass transit fumes because they have no idea what they are talking about. There isn't even enough privately-held land to make their statements close to true,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “When I confronted the person who sent out the e-mail, she backtracked and told me 160,000 acres of farmland exist in Ferry County, and that it would be lost or completely 'paved over' without the GMA and Futurewise. Really? I asked the conservation manager of the county if that figure is accurate and he basically told me that if there is even near half that amount of farmland, he would eat his hat. Simply put, the e-mail was filled with bogus information aimed solely at ginning up their base and raising money.

“Radical environmentalists can take as many swipes at me as they want. I was elected to fight for my constituents and that is exactly what I will do,” Kretz added.

The group also posted information on its Ferry County Advocacy page on their Web site, which Kretz believes should be corrected or removed due to the lack of factual integrity.

In part, the group's Ferry County Advocacy Web site reads, “In Washington, it's far too easy to pave over farmland if it's not designated as such. That's why we were fighting so hard to get the county to properly designate and protect the best of the county's 749,452 acres of land in farms and ranches. Refusing to designate any of the county's farmland violated the letter and spirit of the law and had contributed to the loss of almost 100 square miles of farm and ranch land over the last ten years. Legal action was needed to enforce the law and protect Ferry County's farmland from continuing to be paved over.”

“The claims are completely preposterous and dishonest. Ferry County can't even afford to pave its roads let alone thousands of acres of mountain ranges and range land,” Kretz said. “What we have here is a bunch of unscrupulous people in downtown Seattle peddling garbage to the masses to collect checks so they can continue to sue financially-strapped and defenseless rural counties.”

Okanogan County is currently updating their Comprehensive Plan under the GMA, which concerns Kretz because of the scope and cost of environmental lawsuits brought forward by Futurewise and similar groups in Ferry County. In fact, Futurewise has already used the Freedom of Information Act to request working documents related to Okanogan County's Comprehensive Plan.

“If Ferry County is the example of how Futurewise is 'helping' rural areas with land-use planning, it does not bode well for Okanogan County. This group leaching its way into Eastern Washington's land-use decisions is disastrous,” Kretz said. “How much more can local governments and private-property owners take of this one-size-fits-all downtown Seattle wisdom? Local governments are already struggling to pay for critical essential services and, if you own your land, you are being told what do with nearly every square inch of it. It baffles me that environmentalists continue to sue a county that has one planning staffer and is almost wholly designated as untouchable land already.”

Kretz suggested Futurewise take a look out its office window in downtown Seattle and notice how much farmland environmentalists have preserved on or near Second Avenue.

“I love the faux moral superiority Futurewise is shoveling at a county that is pristine and will never be 'paved over.' All the while, their office is smack-dab in the middle of the state's 'concrete jungle,'” Kretz said. “If they want to take up an environmental cause, perhaps they should start with King County.”

The manager of the Ferry County Conservation District, who has lived in the county for 35 years, explained to Kretz that despite the monumental environmental disturbances clearly evident by the miles and miles of paved acres in and around Seattle, rural and rugged Ferry County has been sued more times and has gone through more land-use litigation by environmental groups like Futurewise than King County.

“Go figure,” Kretz said.

For more information, contact Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov