It is all in the news! The forests are dying and burning, followed by snow avalanches and then flooding, then it’s droughts and no water. The screams go up: DO SOMETHING! So the Forest Service in Arizona and New Mexico started some forest thinning and watershed improvement projects to deal with the complaints and actually start to do some real conservation action. Well, let’s not let any good deed go unpunished! It was reported that on Sept. 19, 2019, a federal judge in Tucson, Ariz., put a stop to the forest conservation and fire prevention works on ALL National Forests in New Mexico, and one in Arizona. Why? Well a tax-exempt corporation in Santa Fe, N.M., called “Wild Earth Guardians” claimed that the Forest Service had not adequately provided recovery plans for the Mexican Spotted Owl, under the Endangered Species Act.
Here we go again! Tax-exempt corporations are being paid to stop management, protection and improvement of the public lands and resources, including water and local economies. This is all done under the bogus “Endangered Species Act” to gain control of the federal lands without any cost or responsibility for them. The costs and losses are all on the taxpayers and states. In this case, the Mexican Spotted Owl was the magic trick pulled out of the hat to stop conservation and protection. Like all other so-called “threatened or endangered species,” no one knows how many Mexican Spotted Owls there are, or if they are growing in numbers or decreasing, or really even where they are. Are they really endangered, or are they a climax species that just continues to exist in varying numbers as conditions around them change? They claim they must have “old-growth” ponderosa pine forest to exist. However they are found in total second-growth forests with no old growth present, hmm. I would allege that the species is actually an “invader” species from Mexico, expanding into the Southwest United States where better managed forests are available. Where is this going? Well, hang on!
Why are states east of the Continental Divide not plagued with the enviro corporations shutting down management, use and protection of the state and private forests due to some bird or bug that they know nothing about? Answer is, they are not “federal” and thus not controlled by the federal swamp and Congress. Did you ever wonder why there were 13 small colonies established, and not just one larger one? Did you know that it was a real struggle to get the 13 colonies to pull together to make the revolution happen? After the revolution, why were there 13 separate and totally sovereign STATES established and not just ONE state/country? Why did the new Constitution specifically limit the soon-to-become-established federal body to have limited, few and well-defined powers and authority? Well, short answer is, the Colonies were all of differing ethnics, faiths, values, etc. (birds of a feather flock together). The Constitution was designed to ensure their separate sovereignty would continue in perpetuity as individual states comparable to existing “states” in Europe but bonded together for protection and economic opportunity.
What has happened that the western states are now being controlled by tax-exempt non-governmental organizations? Simple answer is that after 1860 the power-limited federal entity usurped power and limited the power of any new states by not fully establishing them as sovereign states with control of all the lands and resources within their boundaries. The end result has been that we have a federal “state” within the Constitutional State. The federal “state” controlled lands contain 80 percent or more of our critical watersheds, minerals, forests, range and wildlife. Are you getting the picture? The federal Congress passes laws controlling the lands and environment on all the federally controlled lands, and private land if federal monies are involved. The proposed laws are written by the tax exempt non-governmental groups for their special interests, not the interest of the states or even the environment. Passage of the Federal Lands Policy & Management Act in 1976 and then the National Environmental Policy Act provided means for the taxexempt non-governmental organizations to sue the federal land agencies and stop any land and resource projects for any claimed non-compliance with an environmental law, regulation or procedure that the organization does not like. That is what is happening now in the court litigation mentioned above in New Mexico and Arizona. It happens regularly in Colorado and locally on the national forests. All because past and current Congresses have failed to comply with the Constitution they swore to uphold, beginning at statehood, and continuing.
Is there a solution? Actually there is, but like anything worthwhile, it will not be easy or quick. It involves the state complying with its own Constitution by recognizing that the county governments are the governing authority and arm of the state on all matters within the counties and to be supported by the state, not controlled by it. The state must petition for constitutional compliance with statehood compacts to complete the transfer of the unappropriated lands at statehood, to the states’ control. The naysayers will have apoplexy over this I know, because they prefer to be ruled over and taken care of by a federal government so they don’t have to be responsible for themselves. The other option is to do nothing and be content with being controlled by non-governmental entities and ruled by the federal government. All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing! Is it worth trying?
Dexter Gill is a retired forest manager who worked for private industry, three Western state forestry agencies, and the Navajo Nation forestry department. He writes from Lewis, Colo.