U.S. Fish & Wildlife harasses Nevada pastor, diverts stream, flooding troubled youth facility

…U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service…diverted the stream onto its own land. Two days before Christmas, the newly re-routed waterway jumped its banks, sent a torrent of mud and water across Patch of Heaven, and did over $90,000 worth of damage.

William Perry Pendley

Mountain States Legal Foundation


Pastor Victor Fuentes of rural Nevada knows of the dreadful religious persecution in Castro’s Cuba. Almost three decades ago, he swam nearly 7 miles from Santiago, Cuba to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base seeking political asylum. Being new to America, Pastor Fuentes did not know the one thing most westerners know—the federal government is absolutely the world’s worst neighbor. He could not have imagined a federal agency, its of officials, and lawyers would declare war on his Christian church. Little wonder that, over the last eight years, his faith in his adopted country as a nation of laws and not of powerful men—like Fidel—has been sorely tested.

Granted political asylum in early 1991, he was exposed for the first time to Christianity (Cuba was of officially an atheist state when he fled), was “born again,” became a Christian, and swore his life to Christ. He became an ordained minister, witnessed with his personal story to the lost youth on the mean streets of Las Vegas, and eventually, with his wife Annette’s support (they married in 1995), formed his small, mostly Spanish-speaking church (Ministerio Roca Solida Iglesia Cristiana) in unincorporated Pahrump, Nevada.

It grew to over 70 souls, one of whom made it possible, in 2006, to purchase for $500,000, a 40-acre parcel amidst the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Amargosa Valley, 30 miles from Pahrump. They called it Patch of Heaven because a spring-fed stream irrigated the trees and shrubs, provided water for a tranquil pond, and created, in Pastor Fuentes’ words, “an oasis soothing to the soul and an ideal setting upon which to reflect upon God and His word.” They spent over $700,000 to repair buildings, restore septic systems, and realize needed improvements, most accomplished by Pastor Fuentes and church volunteers. The church hosted retreats, Christian camps, and baptisms, but most importantly it was a refuge for troubled youth from Las Vegas—Sin City—and adults suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, ministering to them and helping them dry out at their desert oasis.

In short, after risking his life to escape the religious persecution and horrors of the communists in Cuba, Pastor Fuentes was living the American Dream—helping others who so desperately needed it and enjoying our very first right as Americans, the First Amendment’s freedom of religion.

In December of 2010, its neighbor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, without obtaining a Clean Water Act permit, without complying with the National Environmental Policy Act, and over the objections of a hydrological expert, diverted the stream onto its own land. Two days before Christmas, the newly re-routed waterway jumped its banks, sent a torrent of mud and water across Patch of Heaven, and did over $90,000 worth of damage.

That is not the worst of it. Because the illegal conduct of the federal bureaucrats was exceeded only by their incompetence—after all, they tried to make the stream flow uphill— flood waters came again three more times. Today, the damage totals $225,000. With the threat of annual flooding, repairs are futile, the church grounds and buildings are virtually useless, and a dusty mini-Grand Canyon cuts through what was once lush wetlands.

With Mountain States Legal Foundation as its attorney, Pastor Fuentes’ church is in a federal court in Washington, D.C. demanding justice.

Although Deep State federal lawyers have closed ranks to defend the actions of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Mountain States Legal Foundation and Pastor Fuentes want to know who in that agency gave the order to flood him out. After all, the Wall Street Journal reported that very agency tried to “drive out” its rancher neighbors in Oregon by purposefully “mismanag[ing its] water to let [nearby] ranchlands flood.” Recently, we found out!

After days of depositions of the federal government’s “experts” over their “reports,” which cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars, to justify the government’s theft of water and intentional flooding, we know who gave the “green light.” As you know this is a rare thing when fighting the federal government. Too often, at best, someone says, as Bill Clinton did, “Mistakes were made.” And federal bureaucrats hide behind scores of free federal lawyers. Not in our lawsuit for Pastor Fuentes.

Meet Tim Mayer, the unlicensed “Supervisory Hydrologist” at the Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, Oregon. We now know from his testimony that Mayer is the unbridled Deep State bureaucrat who okayed the scheme to divert its water and flood the church camp. Though he is neither a lawyer nor an historian, he confessed that he routinely provides legal advice and counseled the agency that it was lawful to divert the church’s water.

Federal lawyers should refuse to put this so-called expert on the stand at trial; after all, he admits to no legal or historical expertise on the matters at issue but gave the go-ahead. Instead, they will fight zealously to destroy the hopes, dreams, and years of sacrifice of Pastor Fuentes, despite that a federal agency made a moon-scape out of his church’s land.

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