Resistance to U.S. Forest Service restrictions finally shows!
Finally!! I have been complaining
about the new U.S. Forest Service restrictions since they first came out
for public discussion in El Dorado National Forest—but public
complaints were few, and they passed draconian restrictions which are
even now in effect.
Initially, what happened, was that President
Bush signed off on rules for restricting "off road vehicles" in
National Forests throughout the nation. That was all well and good, but
those who want the public out of the forests—and I firmly believe the
U.S. Forest Service is of that mind set—determined that would extend to
any vehicle, since in fact, any vehicle can drive off the road! How
The intent was to keep 4x4 vehicles from running up
hillsides and through swampy meadows, not to keep mom, dad, buddy and
sis from parking their trailer alongside a stream! But that's exactly
what has happened in El Dorado National Forest. And this was the first
imposition of the restrictions in the nation, so all the other national
forests are probably going to follow suit.
The main restriction
that's killing everybody, is that no vehicle may park more a car length
off any road. So, what happens if you want to cut firewood and there's a
burn pile 100 yards off the road? You have to carry the wood!!!
if you have horses in a horse trailer, and you want to camp, unload the
horses, and have a nice fire, etc.? You have to camp within a car
length of the road!!! That's not even safe for unloading the horses,
with traffic, to say nothing of the ambiance of camping on a major
What if your grandparents want to bring their
trailer up the mountains and camp alongside a stream, like they've been
doing for 60 or 70 years? Now, they'll find all those campsites blocked
off by boulders, downed trees, and signs that say "no vehicles allowed".
Camping is restricted to campgrounds and "designated campsites"
only. All the hundreds, if not thousands, of remote campsites that
folks have been using for ever are now blocked off by boulders, downed
trees and signs that say "No Motor Vehicles." More and more forest users
are finding out that they are now "locked out" of some of their
favorite campsites. Personally, I hate designated campgrounds. I don't
like the restrictions, controls and proximity of other campers, some of
whom are blaring radios and partying all night—not exactly a great
I've always thought it was
unconstitutional—and downright un-American—to keep the public from using
public lands, and now an entire sheriff's department feels the same
way, and they have announced they are not going to enforce the laws!
The Sheriff of Plumas County, Sheriff Greg Hagwood, has
announced that he will refuse to support U.S. Forest Service
restrictions on the use of public lands, saying that neither he, nor his
deputies will cite the public if found in violation of the most recent
restrictions adopted by the U.S. Forest Service.
He said he and
his administration, along with the area patrol sergeant Dean Canalia and
Chester deputies Ian James and Chris Herrbach, were attending a Tea
Party meeting to “demonstrate first and foremost their awareness of what
the United States Forest Service was trying to inflict on residents and
tourists alike with restricting access to public lands.”
I want every citizen to know we do not support, endorse nor will we
inflict this one-vehicle limit nonsense on them,” Hagwood said. “Bottom
line, we are not going to be agents of the federal government in
creating a new class of criminals who are doing nothing more then
accessing what are public lands.”
“I will be damned if my staff
will start inflicting these latest federal mandates on law-abiding
citizens who are doing nothing more then enjoying what should continue
to be recognized as public lands,” Hagwood said.
Hagwood also sees more and more restrictions coming, like road access for snowmobiles, off-highway vehicles and woodcutters.
see this as the beginning of an effort to restrict and inhibit access
to public lands. Just because those uses are not targeted today does not
mean they won’t be tomorrow,” he said. “At some point this nonsense has
got to stop.”
As I have been saying for years, the U.S. Forest
Service already had plenty of laws on the books protecting areas from
destructive off-road use and activities that would be detrimental to the
forests. In my estimation, the Forest Service used the new rules as a
way out of patrolling public forests—by restricting public use instead
of simply carrying out existing laws through enforcement.
immensely pleased with the actions taken by Sheriff Hagwood in Plumas
County, and I would love to see a similar stand by Sheriff D’AgostinI in
El Dorado County. As the good Sheriff said, "At some point this
nonsense has to stop."
MOTOR vehicle signs are everywhere in El Dorado Forest now, thanks to
new "rules" put in place, keeping the public from using campsites and
roads that have been open forever. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR