The temporary replacement for the position of San Juan National Forest district ranger and BLM Dolores Field Office manager has made it very clear: She will strive to listen, but the plan has already been approved and we locals have missed our chance to stop it. Evidently, the people have lost.
How many of you who disagree with these new travel management plans knew about this before the USFS and BLM began to implement them? I can say with certainty the answer is, virtually none of us. No signs warning of any impending land grab/closures were posted on the lands that are being taken from us. What good is listening to us when you appear to say the new plan has already been set and your agency has no intention of changing it? Is that not disingenuous? You and those who support these confiscations like to point out that you are simply implementing a plan that was put in place by the previous administration. Do you realize how many hundreds, if not thousands of plans and policies from the Bush Administration have been changed or ignored by the current administration? The creation of new policy and discarding or modifying old policy is standard procedure with every new administration. Plans and policies can and do change.
Why is it too late to change this new policy? The Forest Service and BLM are closing significant numbers of roads that are known as RS 2477 roads, and this may be happening in violation of the law. Do you wonder why many citizens have lost faith in the way our government conducts business? The people follow the law, but some government agencies can apparently do whatever they want regardless.
Everyone should know that since the mid 1980s, the Forest Service and BLM have closed a huge number of miles of publicly accessible roads. They started slowly and the people barely noticed. They have gotten themselves in trouble because they have been accelerating the pace of these closures to the point where they can no longer do it in stealth. Ms. Clementson glowingly speaks of the many miles of roads they have allowed us to keep, but she neglects to mention that those 230 miles of roads and 47 miles of off-highway trails are vastly reduced from the mileage that was open just a short time ago. Attempting to make something sound good, when the reality is the opposite, is propagandizing.
Attention recreationalists, hikers, bikers, cattlemen, horse lovers, miners, loggers, and oil and gas companies, please pay attention here. Do not appease these land managers by giving up your rights without so much as a peep. As Winston Churchill said, An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. If you believe you can save your access by sacrificing the rights of other user groups, dont be surprised if you are next to lose your access or grazing rights. Lets stick together and resist efforts to divide us. We need to fight for the rights of us all to use our public land however we like, so long as it is done in a responsible and legal way.
Make your views known to your representatives, especially our county commissioners who statutorily hold enough power to stop or make it very difficult for these land managers to foist this upon us. They need to be much bolder and they should claim the rights that are ours without delay. Let our state representatives and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton know that we need their help. Do not be fooled by lame attempts to convince us that these land managers know best what is good for us or for your public lands. They dont understand the controversy, because to them, we are the problem.
David Dove is a Montezuma County resident.