10/24/2019

How Public Land Became a Family’s Land After a Solar Fight

About four years ago, Imperial Valley farmer Charlie Slater learned he was going to lose 360 acres where he’d grown sugar beet, alfalfa and other crops.

It was to be transformed into a field of solar panels. The Imperial Irrigation District, a public agency that owned and rented land to Slater, told the farmer and at least one other their leases would be ending.

“I had farmed that ground for over 25 years and it was more or less jerked out from under me,” Slater said.

But the solar panels never appeared. One day, Slater drove his pickup truck up the dirt road to the property he once farmed and saw a tractor.

Slater couldn’t believe it. Someone was farming his old land.

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