Oregon Couple Ordered to Destroy Their Own Pond

Jon Carey and his "illegal" pond.
(Photo: Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch)

Jon Carey and his "illegal" pond. (Photo: Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch)

2.5 years ago, Jon and Sabrina Carey bought 10 acres of land near Butte Falls, Oregon largely for the 2-acre pond that’s been there for the past 40 years or so.

Now the government reportedly wants them to destroy it.

Although the government was surely aware of the pond’s existence before, the trouble began when the Careys sought government permission to grow cannabis for medical use, which they don’t even sell. When pressed to prove they had a viable source of water, they cited the pond. That’s when the government told them their pond had been illegally built so many years earlier, and that they had no right to use the water therein.

They complied by the order to not use the water, and began trucking water to their property for irrigation. Since then, their well has gone dry, so now they are forced to rely entirely on trucked-in water for all of their needs.

“When you’re honest, they take everything away from you,” Carey said.

Carey isn’t trying to get rich by growing weed using pond water; he only grows it to give to friends and to use himself for medical purposes.

“I don’t make anything out of this,” he said, pointing to the older double-wide trailer he lives in and a dilapidated house behind it.

In order to at least prevent the destruction of the pond, which would significantly devalue the property, the Careys are seeking to preserve it by offering full access to the pond for municipal and firefighting use.

The Careys’ attorney has said the couple would assume all costs associated with permitting, construction, maintenance and liability. A draft easement was provided to the commission from the Careys. The Careys have also agreed to reduce the size of the pond from about 12 acre feet of water to 9.2 acre feet to meet other regulations.

“Ms. Carey will execute an easement to the city of Medfore to flood her property, access the reservoir, and cause the reservoir to be drained any time the city deems necessary,” the Careys’ attorney stated.

As usual, government officials are reluctant to help these citizens preserve their own property:

Water Commission staff found several problems with the Careys’ request, including setting a precedent that could prompt similar requests and weaken state statutes while not meeting the definition of “municipal water source.”

What a mess. But at least there’s help on one front; the Oregon Department of Forestry has reportedly asked officials to keep the pond intact.

A letter from the Oregon Department of Forestry on Dec. 2 to the Water Commission supported retaining the reservoir to help suppress wildfires and provide enough water for a multiday operation.

There’s no telling whether this will allow the Careys to preserve a valuable feature of the land which they erroneously believed was truly their own.

How sad that this can happen in the good ol’ USA.

Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started… [Learn More]


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