Water gives life. That’s what makes water in a desert such a precious commodity.
Water gave life to the “Patch of Heaven” church retreat, at least until the government stole it from them.
The land owned by Pastor Victor Fuentes’ church, Ministerio Roca Solida or Solid Rock, in the Ash Meadows wilderness area had been a paradise thanks to the stream that flowed through the property. They called the beautiful place “Patch of Heaven” and it attracted people, young and old, from Las Vegas.
Until that paradise was destroyed by federal bureaucrats in the name of environmentalism.
In 2010, Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) took the water and diverted it away from the private parcel where a stream had flowed through since at least 1881.
“Patch of Heaven has been drying and its once lush vegetation dying ever since,” MSLF attorneys wrote in their recently submitted closing arguments.
The diversion not only robbed Solid Rock’s property of water, it violated Nevada Statute since FWS did not apply to the State Engineer for the required permits. On Feb. 18, 2020, MSLF filed its closing briefs with the Nevada State Engineer’s office following an administrative hearing over the church’s water rights held in December. The State Engineer manages all water right claims and appropriations in Nevada.
At the December hearing, MSLF attorneys Zhonette Brown, David McDonald and Cody Wisniewski argued powerfully, providing the court with exhibit after exhibit of historical evidence of the land’s prior owners and water usage supporting the claim that Pastor Fuentes has a vested water right. They provided maps, field notes and other historical documents that showed previous landowners used water on the parcel in various ways including grazing land for cattle.
Despite the years it has taken already, Pastor Fuentes has not given up. With MSLF’s legal help he continues seeking to have his water rights recognized and restored in Nevada and to hold FWS accountable in federal court.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service not only destroyed the fish and wildlife in our property, but also the opportunity for many more lives to be reached and transformed,” Pastor Fuentes said. “We will not back down. We will not deny our kids the opportunity they deserve to be successful in life. May God help us.”