By SHERMAN FREDERICK as published in the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
“With the BLM and Forest Service out of control and playing God as they mismanage our wild equines into oblivion, this OpEd sincerely struck home and indicates that it is not just wild horse and burro advocates who are taking note of these out of control federal agencies. We all need to turn up the volume and insist that a Congressional Investigation is launched in an effort to clean house on these self-anointed bureaus. They bring to mind regimes that we fought against in WWII and now they are us; a very sad state of affairs.” ~ R.T.
“This land is your land, this land is my land” goes the freedom anthem of the last century written by Woody Guthrie.
It’s an idea worth embracing again, because somewhere along the line, the federal bureaucracies entrusted with public lands have morphed into entities that treat folks like a problem, not a constituency.
Consider the U.S. Forest Service’s new rules for shooting pictures in a wilderness area. They illustrate how contemptuously wrong-headed government can become.
If a reporter wants to do a story in a wilderness area, the reporter must first get a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. That can cost up to $1,500. If a reporter is caught without a permit, he or she faces fines up to $1,000.
This is a stunningly stupid rule. Last month, the U.S. Forest Service sought to clarify and defend the rule, saying despite how the rules are written, the news media and documentary filmmakers, as well as most hikers shooting pictures in a wilderness area, would probably not be subject to the rule.
Probably? How reassuring.
The Oregonian newspaper was one of the first to decry the situation, pointing out that, “Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in 36 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.”
Almost any person trekking through a wilderness area who dares to shoot videos with an iPhone and then blogs it or tweets it or posts it to Facebook could be fined by the federal government $1,000 for each violation.
The Forest Service says that is not the “intent” of the rules, which were based on the Wilderness Act of 1964, which protects wilderness areas from being exposed for commercial gain.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But, of course, there are no roads in wilderness areas, so we can only go by what the U.S. Forest does, not what it says.
As the Oregonian points out, in 2010, the Forest Service “refused to allow an Idaho Public Television crew into a wilderness area to film student conservation workers.” It was not until the governor of the state intervened that the crew was allowed in.
So, while the Forest Service talks like it’s drafting the Magna Carta, what it actually does resembles more the Sheriff of Nottingham. And the Forest Service is not the only one.
Whatever you might think of Cliven Bundy and his feud with the Bureau of Land Management, the display of the BLM’s ugly tactics against this Nevada rancher should alarm good people.
Who knew the BLM had become so militarized? And after the standoff in Mesquite ended, the BLM stonewalled reporters and to this day has not been called into public account for its misjudgments, which almost ended in bloodshed over a few illegally grazing cows.
The reason the BLM gets a pass on this episode is because Bundy turned out to be such an unsympathetic character. It’s too bad, because the critical issue here is the BLM…(CONTINUED)