Franklin County farmers fighting for their land

Franklin County farmers fighting for their land »Play Video
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. - It's all to save the White Bluffs Bladderpod and endangered plant.

The feds want to protect the flower at the farmer's expense.

Farmer David Phipps didn't think something like this could happen.

He said, "For people to want to come on your property or take your land, there needs to be a strong argument and I just don't see it."

He doesn't think a plant is a strong enough argument. The federal government wants to save the White Bluffs bladderpod.
It's endangered. The US Fish and Wildlife Service says the plant is growing on private land. They're using government powers to call the land critical habitat.

David and his fellow farmers packed a Franklin County courtroom last week. They're trying to stop an issue they just learned about.
David says they had no forewarning and only learned after the Farm Bureau saw a notice in a Spokane newspaper.

"They never had the courtesy to even come up and knock on our door, educate us about which plant was the one they were looking for," David said.

He stands to lose 47 acres of land. Envisioning a field of the bladder pods, I asked David for a tour to show you the plants up close.

We couldn't find any. We've looked around the hills and down into the valleys and have yet to see the plant."

We spent a few hours comparing pictures to plants. hoping to see at least one.

Franklin County Commissioner Rick Miller is on the farmers' side.
He's working with Congressman Doc Hastings to appeal to DC.

They're prepared to take legal action with a deadline of Thursday bearing down.

"Farmers don't have an IRA, you know, they generally don't. They put their money into their land, their home and that's their retirement," Miller said.

Those farmers are ready to do the distance to keep what's theirs.

"I think they have more than they realize as far as a fight on their hands," David said.

To stay balanced, KEPR did reach out to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for their side of the story.

No one returned our calls.

A federal report deems most of the land that's affect as un-farmable. This mark yearly losses at about $300 thousand per year.

Farmers say that's simply not true.