Family Ranch continues to battle High-Speed Rail

Family Ranch continues to battle High-Speed Rail

The Felipe Family has been farming pistachios in Hanford for 80 years at Triple F Ranch.

Just last year a judge granted High-Speed Rail eminent domain of a portion of that ranch's land, forcing the Felipe family to relocate 1000 of their pistachio plants.

Now, the family says they are dealing with a berm that they say contractors built, without warning. This berm is cutting off the back 20 acres of their property from any water supply.

"I understand that this is where they are putting it, were not trying to stop it anymore. We’re understanding that this is where they’re going. What we’re hoping for is saying 'hey look, you have to make us whole.' We have to be able to get water to this crop. We have to do all these things. You can’t just push your weight around like this and just walk all over us,” says Richard Felipe, a fourth generation farmer.

The Felipe family had been flood irrigating the back portion of their crop after moving more than 1000 pistachio trees. This berm is now preventing the water from flowing back to the back half of the crop.

Richard says he has court documents that show HSR is required to give at least 7 days notice before interrupting the ranch's water service, and that any interruption shall be limited to no more than 4 hours.

A spokeswoman from the High Speed Rail sent this statement in response:

"In 2016, a judge granted the High-Speed Rail Authority legal possession of the segments of property needed from the Triple F Ranch to conduct work for an overpass at Flint Avenue in Kings County. This week, contractor Dragados-Flatiron Joint Venture (DFJV), began geotechnical work in preparation for utility relocation and heavy construction of the overpass that will carry vehicles over the high-speed rail alignment. A dirt-berm was also assembled to prevent irrigation flooding onto the site where geotechnical work is occurring. To date, DFJV has not removed any trees or crops on the property, but is continuing to work with the property owner to determine future irrigation crossings."

Richard says they had several phone calls with contractors, asking them to wait until October, after their harvest before coming and taking the bore samples.

"Take some time and walk in our shoes, in what it takes to get here. To go in and build a berm like that. Its not like we wouldn’t have worked with them. It wasn’t like we were going to turn the water on," says Richard.

According to Richard, they began fighting the H-S-R five years ago. They lost that fight last year.

Of the 1000 six-year-old trees they had to move, Richard says they have lost 60%. He says this is the first year those trees were going to turn a profit.

Now, with water cut off from 20 acres, Richard says they could lose thousands of dollars.

On top of the interruption in their water service, Felipe says there have been very tall weeds that have grown on the HSR land, and gone unattended. He says those weeds have seeded the back portion of his land, affecting his crop.

Richard says that is another problem he will have to deal with for years and years to come.

The H-S-R is set to build an overpass that will move vehicles over the rail alignment on this property that used to belong to the Felipe family.

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