Nye County Commission calls on feds to restore church camp's water

  • Monday, July 7, 2014

PAHRUMP, NEVADA The Nye County Board of Commissioners unanimously endorsed a resolution Tuesday supporting Pastor Victor Fuentes and his Ministerio Roca Solida (Solid Rock) Church camp in its fight to restore the camp’s surface water that was illegally taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The resolution, passed unanimously, demands, “That the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service promptly return the waterways to their prior state and flow, as well as promptly and expeditiously compensate the church camp for damage done to their camp.”

The camp, Patch of Heaven in Nevada’s Amargosa Valley, suffered significant damage in 2010 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recklessly and illegally erected a dam and relocated a stream that has historically flowed through Patch of Heaven. Shortly after being rerouted, the stream overflowed the federal agency’s poorly engineered new banks during rain showers — sending destructive floods of mud and muddy waters through the camp and causing over $86,000 in damages.

In response to the news, Joseph Becker, director of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation, which is representing the church in its legal case against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, issued the following statement:

We applaud the Nye County Commission for unanimously condemning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the harm it has caused to Patch of Heaven. Federal bureaucrats illegally took the baptismal waters of a church camp and caused over $86,000 in damages to that camp when their poorly rerouted stream overflowed its banks and flooded Patch of Heaven.

Federal entities collectively control over 98 percent of the land in Nye County, something that the commissioners said, “Contributes to an environment of federal overreach and abuse of private property rights and leads to the diminishment of due process and rights granted to Nye County’s residents under the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Nevada Constitution.”

This Resolution confirms what was learned during discovery, that USF&W failed to comply with FEMA regulations as administered by Nye County.  The federal government’s failure to follow its own regulations violated Solid Rock’s procedural due process rights and makes it negligent per se, hence, liable to the church for the flood damage.

Ironically, Pastor Fuentes came to the United States to escape oppression by an unaccountable government. In 1991, he swam seven miles from near his home in Santiago, Cuba, to Guantanamo Bay and gained political asylum. Fuentes likens the USF&W bureaucrats he's encountered in Nye County to those oppressive Cuban government officials he risked his life to escape.

After more than six months of factual discovery, both parties have filed and are responding to dispositive motions in the case, after which the presiding judge will rule on those motions.

More information:

The Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation is a public-interest law organization that litigates when necessary to protect the fundamental rights of individuals as set forth in the state and federal constitutions.

Learn more about the Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation and this case at http://npri.org/litigation/.

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