KRISTIN TATE breitbart.com Americans have become increasingly concerned about the federal government's seizure of privately-held lands and property, especially after the Cliven Bundy incident in Nevada. Now another land owner, Bill Johnson of Temecula, California, claims his property at Vail Lake, the largest privately-owned lake in California, is being threatened by the county, state, and federal governments.
Johnson purchased 11,000 acres of land in Riverside County over 17 years ago, including Vail Lake, encompassing over 1,000 square surface acres of water. Now Johnson claims various levels of government are trying to seize the property, using intimidation under the guise of environmental concerns.
Johnson told Breitbart News: "The habitat is free of any endangered species. The government just wants it because it’s part of their 'core area' due to the properties of water and enormous size."
He mentioned that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently manages land parcels on either side of Vail Lake.
"The EPA needed to come up with 42,000 acres in the area to 'protect' the kangaroo rats," Johnson said. "They intimated property owners into giving up their land."
Duncan Hunter, a Republican Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California from 1981 to 2009, has known Johnson since the 1970's.
"There's a common thread between Johnson's situation and the Bundys' situation," Hunter told Breitbart News. "The heavy hand of government has played in both of those cases."
The land of over 15,000 property owners in Johnson's county was ultimately bought off by the Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP), an entity comprised of state and federal government agencies. The MSHCP told land owners that for environmental reasons, their property could not be developed, split, or farmed.
"They devalued properties," Johnson said. "The government told property owners that selling to the state would be voluntary. They said, 'If you don't sell to us, you won’t be able to sell it to anyone.' The land became worthless and devalued since you can’t farm it or build on it."
Hunter argued that the federal Endangered Species Act allows counties to bully residents into giving up their properties.
"If the government says you can’t use your property for anything, they've essentially taken your property from you," he said. "Essentially, you're not a real property owner. Then the government has the best of all worlds--they paralyze your use of the property but they still demand property tax from you."
The former congressman said that the state and local government has leverage over citizens using the federal government as an arm. The Endangered Species Act is used "as a way for local governments to build empires, employ people, and make money," Hunter said. "The federal government passed the Act, which said that an array of plants and animals are to be protected and cannot be disturbed. Some plant and animal exists almost everywhere."
He said the counties and the cities have understood the value of the Act and used it to exert power over land owners.
to read more: breitbart.com
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