new neighbor, to report or not?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by kesoaps, Mar 25, 2005.

  1. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    Washington State
    Sorry...a bit long...

    We had some new folks move in behind us a couple months ago.

    We live along a creek which is inside the watershed. There's been a lot of watershed talk lately by our county and city councils, talk of no more agriculture (but if you want to build a 3000 sf home on the bank of the lake it's okay :no: ) It's getting a bit scarey, at least for me, to live here as I've got a little CSA garden and a half dozen sheep. I don't want to have anyone coming along and telling me I've got to stop what I'm doing, so I figure I'd better do what I do the right way.

    So in come these new neighbors, who'm I've yet to meet, and they're doing all sorts of work out there and from the road you get to thinking it's all very pretty. But come around the corner, and over on our side of the creek (which is a trout spawning stream), they're pushing and clearing all the way back to the water. Now, we know that you're not supposed to do that. With our clearing permit, we couldn't come within 25 feet of the water with the excpetion of some old cottonwood trees. But these folks, they're talking and we can hear snippets of their conversation about diverting water, and we can see black pipe over there.

    It really doesn't matter, of course, if they're draining water in (the woman downstream will then have to deal with flooding) or siphoning water out, as it messes with the overall eco-system here. And, as I pointed out, the county is beginning to monitor.

    I don't really want to become a neighbor who turns people in...that's not good. But at the same time, the guy gets caught and we're all under a microscope. And the woman downstream hasn't been happy for quite some time over the flooding she's been experiencing the past few years. I plan on talking to them this weekend and explaining, but if he doesn't stop...what then?
  2. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    your right your not supposed to clear to the bank for erosun its against the law to divert water now hurt my fishing i would have to say something

  3. hollym

    hollym Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2005
    If it were me, I'd tell them politely just exactly what you expressed in this post. Maybe it's a perfect world today and they just aren't aware of the rules and will change their plans? If not, then I do not know what I would do. Reporting people is SUCH a double edged sword, you can create a real enemy that lives right by your place and that is never good at all. On the other hand, they are displaying some pretty inconsiderate behaviour by their water activities. When you share a natural water source, it's never all about you.

    Good luck, I hope that the talk works out and the problem gets solved.

  4. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Jul 27, 2004
    I would consider two angles. The first is to ask them how they secured their permit because you'd like to clear down to the river (so you can get your kayaks in or something) but when you went to get the permit you were limited to within 25 feet, and you're simply green with envy. They have then been alerted, if they did not get a permit, to the fact that a permit should have been issued, and that what they are doing might not have been permitted. Without you coming right out and saying so.

    The second would be to ask flat out if they are in compliance with their permits, because if they aren't, they're not only going to end up inviting scrutiny onto their own propery, but onto their neighbors' as well and "not all of us are as careful as we should be," wink wink.

    The truth of it is that very few people are in absolute compliance with all the various laws and regs.. they are complicated, layered, and expensive to follow. So really, you and your neighbor are "in it together" so to speak.

    The other truth is that if he is seriously out of compliance it can get very expensive for him very quickly. Locally we had someone buy a lot for a second home. The lot sits on a protected resevoir. It never occurred to the guy to get permission to cut trees, so he cut them... basically a clear cut to the water so he could put up a little boathouse for his canoes. The state slapped him with a HUGE fine, charged him for the value of the lumber, AND made him replant the trees. The locals were furious, I'm sure he paid twice what those trees usually go for, and twice again the labor fees, all in all an expensive and painful lesson when you think you're doing nothing wrong.
  5. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 4, 2002
    I also think the high road is to talk with them about it. If, however, they laugh it off and are disrespectful of their neighbors' rights and the laws, I do think it is appropriate to appeal to authorities.
  6. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

    Feb 24, 2003
    Well I'm sure that you know they will kill the stream.So if you don't care don't say a word.Maybe they don't know,mention it.If that don't work and you do care,you have no recourse but to turn them in.

    But keep this in mind if they finish what they are doing,it will take a very long time to fix.So if your going to do anything do it now.

    big rockpile
  7. magdabauer

    magdabauer Active Member

    Mar 24, 2005
    washington state
    good morning - i too live in wa state (snohomish county) and it's getting to the point that you can't take a step without trodding on some regulation or other (my property is bordered by a river on one side, a large creek on the other, and i have a creek that drains a salmon-spawning bog running through it). before involving any of the vast officialdom i'd first make sure that i'm absolutely clean with respect to activities on my land (are my sheep/dogs/vegetables properly fenced, housed, tagged, are all my buildings properly permitted, maintained) - once the bureaucrats get involved, watch out, they'll be all over not only the neighbors' place but yours as well - especially if you tick off the offending neighbor because they'll surely say "well, she does/has....". next i would go, together with the neighbor downstream, to talk to the new folks and tell them that if anybody called the "authorities" about their activities, we'd all be in trouble (because we're probably all in violation of some regulation or other). in other words, i'd make them part of the loyal opposition to (unreasonable) regulations. if they are clearly messing with the creek and will not relent, i'd next talk (anonymously) with the conservation folks (NOT the county) and get a feel for their position. you're obviously between a rock and a hard place - if you call the officials they may do nothing (and you've made your new neighbor your enemy), if you let the neighbors mess with the creek it may affect your property (and the officials will later get on the case anyway because SOMEBODY will complain).
    is there a way we can talk/e-mail privately? i've been going to lots of county/ecology-sponsored seminars and i may have some names for you for purposes of "safe" consultation?
  8. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2002
    South West MI
    I ahve a friend who's dealing with the Corp of Engineers right now and it's not pretty. He just put down 3" of stone to make a walkway to a natural pond and may end up losing everything thanks to his neighbor. In Indiana by the way.

  9. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    For heaven's sake, talk to them as you plan to...they may simply not know.

    Shoot, I can't tell you the number of things we were gently informed about when we settled in here. I am grateful for someone finally explaining what the little yellow signs with letters and numbers is (fire marker) and how that system works. Then someone helped us find the information on fire season so we wouldn't burn outside allowed hours/dates (what city gal knows that stuff?) and just why the mailbox is where it is. So let them in on it by saying, hey, I just want to keep you from getting into hot water here, you may not know, cause I didn't initially, but....

    Just wish you'd met them earlier so it would be less awkward. Definitely worth the awkward moment though.
  10. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2005
    I would talk to them and polietly ask them about the tree cutting near the creek. Are the trout an endanger species or they indiegenious to this particular area? I would talk about the silt problems that the creek will have and possible flooding problems. If the trout or fish are only found in this area, I would talk to the sierra club, wwf, epa. So many problems are prone to occur because of the destruction of the water shed. Many times certain species are only found in a certain area. Are the neighbors local or moved in from a different area?
    The problem of water pollution from the cutting and destruction of the watershed's habitat. Is the water going to be contaimenated? Ask those neighbors numerous questions. Also, inform them that certain behavior is determental to the environment as well as to humans. Water flooding can easily be mixed with septic. Do people have wells? This is affecting everyone. They need to be more mindful of their surroundings.(sorry I have a degree in biology , and I am gettting on my soap box).
  11. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    Washington State
    Thanks for all the feedback, folks!

    I'll be headed over tomorrow at some point to talk. I really should have done a 'welcome to the neighborhood' visit before now. Hopefully these neighbors are more cooperative than the last one's who moved in next to me (they sent their horses down to the creek for water, telling me they were already working with the county and knew the right people...haha! They got fined!)

    The trout are just little cutthroat, they're plentiful enough by most folks' standards, but magdabaur hit the nail on the head regarding WA state regs. It's getting ridiculous!

    As for contacting the sierra club....ROFL! Sorry, no way do I want those nuts on my land. I'd let the thing go dry before contacting that organization (no offense, tnborn!)
  12. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

    May 12, 2002
    I know laws are different everywhere, but odds are if your neighbors have violated local watershed rules they will be fined and will have to to pay for new plantings to repair the damage. Through land audits the local authorities will probably find out what they are doing. I agree I would start with the neighbors, like most people their crime is probably ignorance and not malice.

    I'm sorry you have such a hostile attitude about the Sierra Club, if it wasn't for them we would have a lot less beauty in this country. I have traveled to many countries, so I can say that US lands preserved by the Sierra Club are some the most spectacular anywhere. Here's a link to their site if you want to get to know their work better:

    If it wasn't for groups like this instead of the Grand Canyon we would have McMansions Canyon. If I hug trees it's because it's like hugging the Creator.
    Good luck.
  13. Ken in Maine

    Ken in Maine Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    Saint Albans, Maine
    I wouldn't speak to them about it at all. They probably know exactly what they are doing and if, after talking with them, you get no results and have to go to a higher authority... well guess what... they will know who turned them in. Laws are laws and there are persons who's responsibility it is to enforce them. Let them do their job! Besides the authorities might be able to offer them a way of accomplishing what they want that is within the local laws. All you can do is make yourself a target for their retaliation in a face to face confrontation.

    Trust me IT WORKS!!!! Let the proper authorities handle it... also make darn sure you are in compliance on your property.

    A side note... if you are unhappy with the local regulations work to change them not circumvent them.
  14. astrocow

    astrocow Well-Known Member

    Mar 10, 2005
    I worked as a watershed restoration technician in British Columbia for a few years. One stage of my work was to fly over the entire watershed I was working on and make note of hazards and potential risks to fish habitat for a closer on the ground study at a later date. I think if people got to see the whole picture as I did then they wouldn't think that what they are doing won't do much harm. That it's a one time thing and only them doing it. That's usually not the case.
    When damage is done to a bank upstream the damage can be easily viewed for an incredibly long distance downstream. Little things can be very hard, time consuming and expensive to repair. When I first started the job one of the things we did was view aerial photos of the watershed and the one thing that always stuck in my mind is the fact that skid trails from the 1960's were still plainly visible in a photo taken in the '90's.
  15. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    May 11, 2002
    Possible tactic is also to apply for a clear cut permit down to the creek, clearly citing in your application your neighbor is doing it so all you want is to have the same creek view or access as they have been permitted to have. Let the authorities then check out whether or not they have a permit and, if so, if they are in compliance with it. You then come off as 'semi-innocent' as you didn't report it directly, just asked for the same clearing permit.

    Ken Scharabok
  16. terriv

    terriv Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    I have never heard of anything even remotely like anything in this thread. Evidently we don't have anything similar here.
  17. poppy

    poppy Guest

    terriv, you will hear about it. It is being done nationwide. People think you're nuts when you tell them, but it comes from the UN. Log on and read the UN web site if you don't believe me. Their policies are being implemented thru watersheds, viewsheds, wetlands, and many others. It is all to control you and your land. Read up on watersheds. There is a UN world conference coming up soon to set world policy for water usage. It is not by chance that states ( Missouri being the latest ) are passing laws to put meters on private water wells.
  18. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004

    Very funny, Ken. As if.

    No one other than large corprations or govt agencies will be able to own property soon. Those 'nice tree hugger types' will see to that. It is funny, they try to talk against big corporations, and sound as if they are for nature & the little guy. But the effect of their actions is to push the little guy over a cliff & hung out to dry.

    I said 20 years ago to me neighbor, the Soviet Union is going to end up like us - capitolism & free; and the USA will end up with a highly regulated socialistic system where you can't wipe your butt without govt oversite.

    We are still on that path.

    None of these regulation are local, Ken.

    Sorry for going off-topic.

  19. poppy

    poppy Guest

    ramber is correct. Does anyone believe that the local goobers we elect as county commisioners come up with this stuff on their own? The various government entities and NGOs dangle the carrot of a few thousand dollars in front of them and they jump at it without concern of the results. If their decision is based on a few complaints or money, money will win every time.