There have been wars fought over oil and opium, spices and sugarcane — and now it seems there is a war brewing in Washington state over pears. The battle was touched off when the Seattle-based Washington Environmental Council sent a letter to an irrigation district in the eastern part of the state threatening legal actions if the district didn’t stop diverting so much water to orchard owners from Peshastin Creek, home to endangered fish species. The letter infuriated family pear farmers in the area, who were just gearing up for their water-intensive harvest season. Siding with the farmers, the Peshastin Irrigation District refused to meet with the council and began readying for a court battle. The incident is typical of recent battles in the Northwest stemming from efforts by environmental groups to enforce the Endangered Species Act, often in the absence of federal efforts to maintain the law.
Get Grist in your inbox