Huge dairies approved near state park devoted to black settlers

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ALLENSWORTH, Calif. - Basque immigrant Sam Etchegaray had two seemingly perfect swaths for a pair of large dairies: 2,000 rural acres of dusty fields, where thousands of cows would be at home in the No. 1 milk-producing county in the nation.

The only problem is that the pastures were next to a state park that pays tribute to a community founded by a freed slave, raising the ire of environmentalists and blacks who objected to the pollution and stench that would come with the cows.

As the decade-old project moved a step forward Tuesday with Tulare County supervisors tentatively approving permits to house up to 12,000 cows, opponents said the decision was an insult to the history and legacy of the landmark, Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, and those who live nearby.

"I guess they're ready to put manure on top of us," said Nettie Morrison, 72, a resident of the unincorporated community of about 120 families.

If the board makes its approval final March 20, the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, which helped mobilize Allensworth residents, will likely sue to stop the dairies, said spokeswoman Caroline Farrell.

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