Oregon criminalizes permaculture; claims state ownership over all rainwater

There’s nothing more refreshing than standing in a cool, summertime rain shower. Or bathing in the warm sunlight on a crisp spring day. Or inhaling the cool autumn air, fresh with the scent of turning leaves and pine needles. These things — rainwater, sunlight, air — have long been assumed to be not only free, but un-claimable. You can’t claim to own the sunlight that falls on my front yard, for example. A corporation can’t claim intellectual property ownership over the air that you breathe and demand you pay a royalty for inhaling.

But today, Jackson County, Oregon says it owns YOUR rainwater, and the county has sentenced a man to 30 days in jail and fined him over $1500, for the supposed “crime” of collecting rainwater on his own property.

The man’s name is Gary Harrington, and he owns over 170 acres of land in Jackson County. On that land, he has three ponds, and those ponds collect rainwater that falls on his land. Common sense would say Gary has every right to have ponds with water on his 170 acres of land, but common sense has been all but abandoned in the state of Oregon.

Much like California, Oregon is increasingly becoming a collectivist state. You didn’t build that! The government built that! You don’t own that! The government owns that! That rainwater that just fell on your land? That’s the government’s rainwater, and you’re going to jail if you try to steal from the government!

That’s the explanation from Jackson County officials, who initially granted Harrington “permits” to build ponds back in 2003. Yes, in Oregon you actually need to beg for permission from the government just to have a pond on your own land. But the state of Oregon revoked his permits a few years later, after he had already created the ponds, thus putting Harrington in the position of being a “water criminal” who was “stealing” rainwater from the state.

Tom Paul, administrator of the Oregon Water Resources Department, is an obedient water Nazi. He insists, “Oregon law that says all of the water in the state of Oregon is public water and if you want to use that water, either to divert it or to store it, you have to acquire a water right from the state of Oregon before doing that activity.”

What he means, of course, is not that the water is “public” water, but that it’s government water. The government owns it, and if you “steal” from the government by, for example, collecting rainwater off your own roof, you will go to jail.

Thus, even when rainwater falls on your own property, you don’t own it! The government owns it. You didn’t build that! The government built that. That’s not YOUR land, you only lease it from the King, and by the way, your property tax is due again…

Harrington said that he will never stop fighting the government on this issue. As reported in CNS News: “When something is wrong, you just, as an American citizen, you have to put your foot down and say, This is wrong; you just can’t take away anymore of my rights and from here on in, I’m going to fight it.” http://cnsnews.com/news/article/oregon-man-sentenced-30-days-jail-col…

If states claim they own the rain, they may soon claim to own the sunlight, too

Rainwater, it turns out, isn’t the only thing that falls on your land. Sunlight also falls on your land. Air resides above it, and minerals below it.

If the state of Oregon already claims to own all the water that falls on your land, what’s to stop them from claiming ownership over all the sunlight, too? Imagine a day when the state erects solar panels on your land, but the electricity isn’t yours to keep. You still have to pay for it, because the sunlight belongs to the state, get it?

If you erect your own solar panels on your own land, the state could then arrest you and charge you with “stealing” state property. All those photons, you see, belong to the state. Once the state declares sunlight to be “community property,” you instantly become a criminal for having solar panels on your house.

State of Oregon declares war on permaculture and sustainable living

Collecting rainwater — and sunlight — are practices taught in sustainable living, permaculture and throughout the green movement. Rainwater capture using ponds and swales is one of the most important strategies for restoring a local landscape. See a good video overview of this here:

These rainwater capture practices help trees grow more quickly and accelerate the return of animal life to any region. They can even be used to restore a desert to a lush, food-producing forest. Watch these remarkable videos with Geoff Lawton:


See more premaculture videos on the permaculture channel at TV.naturalnews.com:

Capturing rainwater also reduces the burden on groundwater supplies and municipal water systems. Capturing rainwater actually protect aquifers and raises the value of land, which results in higher property tax revenues for the county.

That Jackson County officials actually criminalize permaculture practices is abhorrent to not only the green movement on the left, but also the Libertarians and Constitutionalists on the right. Much like in California, Oregon County officials are lying, power-hungry tyrants who falsely accuse Harrington of “diverting” stream water when, in reality, he was only capturing water that normally flows off his own property and later joins the stream.

“Water law is water law, whether you agree with it or not,” said Jackson County Water Master Larry Menteer. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/16/man-disputes-oregon-convictions-…

In other words, the power of the state is absolute, even if the state departs from the realm of sanity. Importantly, if the state of Oregon can claim ownership over rainwater, what’s to stop the state from claiming ownership over the AIR, too?

To clarify: Oregon state bureaucrats are claiming they own the RUNOFF water from rainwater that falls on your own land! Some of the communist-minded critics who are defending state officials in this case are lying and trying to claim this man “dammed a stream,” implying it was a stream that ran through his property. That’s a lie. All this man did was dam up his own runoffwhich later dumps into a stream. Thus, he only captures his own rainwater. He takes no water from anywhere else. And when his own ponds are filled, that rainwater overflows directly into the stream where it used to flow before he built his dams.

This practice of capturing rainwater has been used throughout the history of civilization to restore landscapes, preserve soils, grow food and live more sustainably. Do not fall for the disinformation campaigns being waged on this issue by the Oregon communists and socialists who believe no individual has any right to anything.

What if Oregon claims ownership over the air you breathe?

If the state of Oregon can claim it owns the water that falls on your land, then it can also just as easily claim ownership over the sunlight that falls on your land. But it doesn’t stop there: What about the air you breathe?

There is absolutely nothing stopping Oregon — or any other state — from proclaiming air is “state property.” If you breathe it, you owe the state money.

The fees will be small at first — perhaps $10 / month — but over time they will be raised to exorbitant levels. It’s a state-run shakedown, after all, and once the People become apathetic enough to allow the state to expand its power beyond all reason, there is no limit to the state’s desire for total control over everything under the sun… even including the sun and the air!

This is not a difficult matter for the state to achieve. Oregon could simply pass a new law declaring all air that exists within state boundaries to be state property. Those who “divert” air by engaging in activities such as inflating balloons or compressing air and storing it in air tanks would be given stiff jail sentences.

Think this couldn’t happen? Think it’s too stupid? It’s no more stupid than what has already happened — the criminalization of capturing rainwater, a common permaculture practice for sustainable living.

California criminalizes fresh milk; Michigan criminalizes small local ranching; Oregon criminalizes permaculture

Do you see a pattern in all this? As NaturalNews has reported in just the last 18 months:

• California has declared war on small, local fresh milk farmers and distributors http://www.naturalnews.com/036614_James_Stewart_Ventura_county_raw_mi… .

• Michigan has criminalized small, local ranchers and animal operations http://www.naturalnews.com/035585_Michigan_farms_raids.html

• A city in Michigan has also tried to criminalize home gardens http://www.naturalnews.com/0I32960_Julie_Bass_home_gardening.html

• The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma sent out a “destruction crew” to chop down a woman’s edible landscaping garden of over 100 varieties of foods and medicinal herbs   http://www.naturalnews.com/036234_edible_landscaping_medicinal_plants…

• Oregon has criminalized one of the most important practices of permaculture, capturing rainwater to restore life to a local landscape.

What’s the pattern here? Total state domination over all resources — land, water, food, medicine and more. This is part of the ongoing effort to crush self reliance in America and turn everybody into a mindless, hopeless slave of the state, living on USDA food stamps and eating corporate-engineered GMO.

Freedom means being able to speak your mind, capture your rainwater, bask in the sun, grow trees, raise backyard chickens, home school your children, say NO to vaccines, defend your life and property against looters and violent crime. Freedom is what once made America great, and it is the crushing of freedom which is now destroying America.

Collectivism is the enemy of freedom

In Oregon, California, Michigan, Washington D.C. and everywhere around the world where evil bureaucrats seek total power over all of humanity, our natural, divine rights are being viciously stripped away. Our money supply is being eroded at an accelerating rate. Our right to due process has been nullified by our own President  http://www.naturalnews.com/034537_NDAA_Bill_of_Rights_Obama.html . Our right to free speech is being increasingly censored and stifled. Our right to grow our own home gardens is under constant assault.  http://www.naturalnews.com/036234_edible_landscaping_medicinal_plants…

The common cause behind all these attacks on freedom is “collectivism” — the idea that individuals have no value and that only the state can provide life, food and an economy. This is accomplished through endless permit requirements that now make running something like an organic farm a paperwork nightmare. It is encapsulated in the recently-publicized idea that “You didn’t build that! The government built that!” which ridiculously imagines that only government creates prosperity, not individual innovators and people who believe in hard work.

Similarly, the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act late last year http://www.naturalnews.com/030986_food_safety_farmers.html will absolutely devastate small, local farms once it fully kicks in (see video below).

We are all becoming indentured servants

With every new regulation, inspection, permit and government burden placed upon farms and land owners, we are increasingly destroying our own futures by placing more power in the hands of tyrannical government. We are all becoming indentured servants to the state. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servant

Think you OWN your land? Try not paying property tax for a year. You’ll find out very quickly that you don’t own anything. The state owns it. You are just paying rent.

Watch this video interview with Farmer Brad from central Texas, who talks about the devastating impact of the Food Safety Modernization Act:

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25 Responses to "Oregon criminalizes permaculture; claims state ownership over all rainwater"

  1. Alberto  July 29, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Let me make a couple of corrections…
    A few Oregon assholes, elected by another majority of Oregon assholes does not “the government” makes.
    Nor the edited out of context “You didn’t build that! The government built that” is in context with your attempt as impersonate a journalist.
    You could have reported the news and venture an opinion from an informed and honest source, but you couldn’t resist the temptation to become another asshole misquoting and misusing the words of the President, to bitch shock some people who are easily scared by the government boogeyman.
    When was the last time you voted?

    • Adam J. Bernay  July 31, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      That’s not a misuse of the words. The argument the President was making is essentially the same: without the roads the benevolent government built you (or even more outrageous, without the internet the benevolent government built, which is not the case, since all the government really built was DARPAnet and the expansion into what we know as the internet was done mainly privately), you couldn’t have had a business, therefore the government has a right to take whatever we want to from you businesspeople.

  2. sol  July 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Yeah….really not digging the strong Libertarian vibe coming from this article. We leftists see this as wrong too, and I would consider myself fairly socialist in my views. Oregon is going going to too much of an extreme.

    • Karl  August 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Indeed. I’m not diggin’ the strong Libertarian vibe in the article, either. Water laws in the western US are very different from other places and the idea that the government owns the water rights to be redistributed to private citizens via permitting goes back to the 19th century. It’s hardly a modern ‘collectivist’ issue. In Colorado, for example, which just recently changed it’s water catchment laws, it was illegal to capture water from your roof because water rights belonged to Big Ag to irrigate their giant fields. That policy goes back to the 19th century, too. That said, I think Oregon is making a huge mistake. This case, along with some others you mention, are worrisome. I, for one, am much more worried about the growing power of the corporations in our lives than government.

  3. Hudmar  July 30, 2012 at 12:04 am

    How can you claim what Nature gives us Freely.

  4. angela  July 30, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Dear lawmakers in Oregon,
    there are pedophiles running rampant molesting children. WHY are you wasting your time focusing on people who are collecting rainwater? Are they harming anyone? What is your problem!? GO AFTER THE PEDOPHILES INSTEAD!

    • Ozlanthos  February 17, 2013 at 12:17 am

      Because. Oregon is a state of individuals being run by people who hate individuality! They do everything possible to dissuade you from doing anything that might enhance your life to the point where you don’t need them for anything! They build dams on rivers without passage for native fish, supplement the run they killed off with hatchery fish they put into the river right on top of the spawn of what few natives are left (which eat all the young of any natives) and then when you decide you’d like to be able to eat the fish from your own pond, they arrest you for retaining rain-water on your own property! Damn Californians moving up here! I swear! They’d make rain illegal if they could!


  5. john swanson  July 30, 2012 at 1:57 am

    Larry Menteer
    10 S Oakdale Avenue # 309A
    Medford, OR 97501-2992
    (541) 774-6880
    Jackson County Watermaster in Medford, OR is a private company which is listed under county government offices. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of and employs a staff of 1 to 4.
    he is 58 years old and has a wife named reberta.

    Larry P Menteer Home phone and address.
    541) 582-3833
    796 Covered Bridge Rd
    Rogue River, OR 97537-6607

    Lets get this guy know how we feel about stealing our natural resources.

  6. Erial  July 30, 2012 at 2:16 am

    So I can sue the state of Oregon when the rain soaks my laundry.

    • Adam J. Bernay  July 31, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Actually, that sounds like an excellent idea!

  7. cnerlien  July 30, 2012 at 3:18 am

    What if I don’t want rain on my house? Can I force the government to cover and protect my property? Can I sue the government for trespassing?

  8. JoGe  July 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    When the rain destroyed my crop and when the hail destroyed my car, I’ll sue the government to pay compensation. Lawyers of America come to Oregon and ride a rich harvest. Carl Barks has invented a breathe-tax in his story ‘The Golden Helmet’ in 1957. It seems, Oregon is part of the Duck-Universe.

  9. Iorenzo  July 31, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Way to go !
    A non violent solution !

    I’m not kidding,
    being a stupid un-logic ass actually works with stupid un-logic asses that are stuck in their senseless-laws’maze.

  10. Occupy Tabs (@Bssgrl)  July 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    When are the people in this country going to rise up and take it back from these PSYCHOPATHS & SOCIOPATHS that are decimating our country & rights????? They are HIRED BY US SO THEY SHOULD BE FIRED IMMEDIATELY AS WELL, they are TREASONOUS and we are now the The United Plutocracy in the name of the Greed Feed Machine

  11. Ann Marie Davis  July 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm


  12. Pingback: Interview With Farmer Brad About S.510 Food Safety Modernization Act « Ha! Tea 'n' Danger

  13. Brandon  July 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    Collecting rainwater is already illegal in Colorado and has been for quite some time. There’s actually a very intricate system of water courts that determines who owns what water based on seniority (how long your “water right” has been in existence) and so on.

  14. RyanRyan  July 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    This article is full of false information and blatant lies with no goal other than to get people riled up over nothing. Read a non-biased version of the story, I think your angry letters should go to the trueactivist editor for not doing any fact checking on this terribly written piece. Was this a high school journalism project?


    • Adam J. Bernay  July 31, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      I’ve read the news report. I also used to work in the news media, which many times gets it wrong or leaves out information, especially when that information doesn’t fit their worldview. But even if the news report is accurate, it’s bad enough. How can a government claim ownership of the RAIN?

    • Ozlanthos  February 17, 2013 at 12:28 am

      I read both articles. What makes you think that what he did should be considered illegal? Or that the state of Oregon should have anything to say on the matter? The only real considerations to be made here are A) was he issuing higher than permitted concentrations of pollutants into the river, B) was his system of dams prohibiting a significant amount of the flow from getting to the river, and C) were any native fish species prohibited from their normal migratory patterns by the construction of these dams. I saw nothing to indicate that the public was in any way impacted by the construction of these dams. That is why the state has what authority over water-rights that it does, to ensure the continued flow and quality of our river-systems. If this series of dams wasn’t stopping salmon from spawning, wasn’t fouling the river, and wasn’t preventing anyone from getting water, then the state needs to back off!!!


  15. Buddy  July 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    To RyanRyan Thank you for showing the other side of the coin.

  16. megan  August 1, 2012 at 1:50 am

    First and foremost, let me say that I am in school as an agriculture science major, with a focus on sustainable development. Now let me say that this article and its premises are ridiculous. Upon further research you will find that the man in question was diverting runoff into large ponds, essentially damming seasonal waterways. I’m pretty sure this is illegal everywhere. Saying that this man’s punishment is heralding in a war on permaculture practices is absurd. Permaculture practices regarding water diversion focus on low-impact diversion methods and the SINKING of groundwater. Even in CO you won’t get in trouble for putting a 50 gallon barrel under a gutter or building a swale unless you have a HOA or really weird zoning. The gov’t isn’t taking control of the RAIN, it is carefully managing the diversion of ground water to avoid ecological problems and argument among conflicting water interests such as environmental groups, municipalities, fish and game services, and farmers. I don’t LIKE that it has come to this either, but don’t throw a piss fit until you at least ATTEMPT to look at the bigger picture.

  17. timd  August 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    its amazing isnt it – how people read what they wanna read – make of it what fits their own world view – and then just carry on their own sweet way. i live under a ‘devils punchbowl’ in the UK and the farmer above decided he was going to jigger around with the water courses and started diverting water further up the mountain to somewhere that more suited him and his cattle/sheep – subsequently my house was flooded twice – having remained dry for 250 yrs. luckily with a bit of talking and alot of sabre rattling he was convinced to let it go back to how nature had made it…. and weve been dry ever since – its good to talk – especially with the law on your side – you cant do that kind of stuff in UK….. its not that the water belongs to anybody – its just that its recognised that the way that water goes is the way that water goes and if you alter it – you do so against the law – and on your own liability and at your own peril

  18. William Borland  August 9, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Having read all of the above I can see arguments going several ways but one thing still stands out quite strongly; no matter how you put it, here in the United States and it seems like most other countries of the Western world, more and more control is coming in over the individual person and many people don’t like it. What is the solution to this problem? You find it sometimes in nature, plagues and wars and other things reduce the population enough so that you can start over again. We need to think carefully about this or we may find this some time out there in the future solving our problems and, if some of us are still here, wishing it had not gone this way. wrb


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