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     We seek to protect the rights of landowners to maintain and administer their private lands as they see fit, within the bounds of reasonable environmental responsibility and sensitivity.

The rights of Texas landowners are under constant assault. Both environmental extremists and heavy-handed government regulators have made life rather unpleasant for owners of real property. We at the Texas Freedom Foundation do not oppose sensible environmental protection regulations- no one wants to live in a polluted environment. As things have evolved (no pun intended), it is becoming increasingly clear that the hypersensitivity is not in the environment, but in the environmental movement.

Through a maze of permits, fees, and government roadblocks, Texas private property owners must play "mother-may-I" with the government concerning most improvements they want to make to their land. Often, these well-meaning laws, put in practice, border on the absurd. Take the proposition by one member of the Sierra Club that ranchers should need to obtain a permit to build any, thats right ANY fences on their OWN property. This individual claims that fences are prohibitive of the free roaming of wildlife. Nevermind that even the most sickly Hill Country Whitetail Deer can clear a six foot fence, much less the three-strand fences that most ranchers use within their property. Increasingly, it is becoming obvious that the radical environmentalists are obsessed with power, control, and regulation- more than any conservation efforts.

-The Case of the Golden Cheeked Warbler-

Many Texans know about the strange and sad case of the Golden-Cheeked Warbler. Because of this one "endangered" species and another bird, Hill Country landowners faced governmental regulation when it came to cutting cedar and juniper on their lands. The legal and political wranglings of the Sierra Club speak volumes about their contempt for landowners and lack of knowledge about the history of the Hill Country.

Over a century ago, when European settlers first came to the Texas Hill Country, one would have been hard-pressed to find a cedar plant over mid-thigh in height. Though prolific, these plants were periodically razed by wildfires that spread unchallenged. Needless to say, there were no "cedar trees," they were "cedar bushes" and nothing more. The control of wildfires in the early 20th century was a windfall for the cedar, and apparently, the Golden-Cheeked Warlber.

Today, there are thousands of square miles of impenetrable cedar that cover the Texas Hill Country. Cedar has another use for the Sierra Club, other than the warbler; the cedar burn piles that dot the Hill Country release "greenhouse gasses," just like the wildfires of centuries past.

Cedar is also a thirsty vegetation. In an era when we are being asked to use 1gpf toilets and let our lawns die in the summer sun, cedar continues to drink drink drink, and mercy upon anyone who cuts the stuff down. One member of our group noted that he cut twenty acres of cedar to create a firebreak. Quite unexpectedly, a number of natural springs began to flow again, absent any rain or other explanation. Today, the natural stream that has reemerged provides water for cattle and wildlife.

Private property ownership and land rights are the basis of our life as citizens of the United States. The environment should be protected from wanton abuse and environmental disregard. As our politicians and bureaucrats continue to legislate people out of their birthright, we recognize that landowners have a great stake in keeping their land clean and pristine. State and Federal environmental enforcers should focus on cases of massive industrial pollution and reckless disregard for the environment, and leave private landowners to manage their lands as they see fit.

The 77th Texas Legislature has within it legislators that have shown their willingness to back the Sierra Club and their anti-people policy. Fort Worth's Lon Burnam is, in the words of one Sierra Club leader, "an old friend" and member of the Texas environmental movement. Being an environmentalist and conservationist is fine, but the Sierra Club has acted consistently against the lawful private property owners of Texas. (Though this is not surprising, because Burnam has received some of the lowest ratings in the history of the Texas Freedom Foundation for supporting our values.)

There are ways to promote the greater good for business, individual liberties, and the environment. The path that the Lone Star Sierra Club and other radical environmentalists have taken obviously places the interests of the Golden-Cheeked Warbler over the rights of lawful landowners. It is time to bring sanity back to environmental and private property policy.

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The Texas Freedom Foundation is a non-profit corporation chartered in the State of Texas