Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Clearing Up Crazy Mountain Public Access Muddy Waters

"For the record, let's make it clear what this dispute is all about... it is about private individuals
shutting off lawful public access in order to expropriate public lands
for their exclusive use and personal gain."
~ US Deputy Assistant General Counsel, James B. Snow


 Clearing Up Crazy Mountain Public Access Muddy Waters
First, I would like to thank Senator Jon Tester for his recent public letter to USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue and Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell concerning Crazy Mountain public access, prescriptive easements and Alex Sienkiewicz's removal as Yellowstone District Ranger.

I have been working on getting the more complex organization of the Crazy Mountain Public Access section set up and more documents uploaded. Sen. Tester's letter has been added to the Letters section. Here you will also find the three public hunter's letters to Sen. Steve Daines, with 2 including Sen. Tester. 2 of the 3 received no response from Sen. Daines, while Gregoire was told by staff that Daines could not get involved, yet, when certain private Crazy Mountain landowners wrote to him, he not only got involved, he sent unsubstantiated false allegations to the highest level of the Forest Service and USDA. Why is that? This appears to be causing concern to others, including 2 lifelong Republicans, who expressed they will not be voting for Daines or Republicans, "Out of necessity, I’m becoming a 100 percent independent voter because my Republican party keeps trampling my family’s outdoor heritage."

7/31/2017 Daines' actions in Sienkiewicz case are despicable
7/31/2017 Daines tramples Montana's outdoor heritage


To make these Crazy Mountain matters very clear, I respect and uphold private property and their rights, including their right to restrict access to whomever they desire. But, I also greatly respect PUBLIC property and our rights to the lands, water and the access, which includes our historical prescriptive roads/trails.

Recently an oped was in the papers, which I feel did a disservice to the public access issue in the Crazy Mountains and the  public in general. The opinion piece said we need to, "provide incentives and financial support for landowners who wish to allow access to their land. This provides opportunity for hunters, and it benefits landowners by controlling the damage that elk, deer and other game cause to crops and fences."

We already have historical access in the Crazy Mountains, we should not pay for access that has been increasingly stolen, a "taking" from the public, like an extortion racket. My FOIA documents show that for decades, the Forest Service has repeatedly tried to negotiate to work with these particular landowners cutting off access, to no avail. In fact, on the east side of the Crazies, Hunt District 580, the elk objective is 975. Do you know what last years elk count was in that public access restricted hunt district? 4,616 elk. This year's count was 4,846! Now according to the Elk Management plan, if elk are being harbored, you know, the kind of harboring that outfitters boast about on their websites, that such concentrations increase their clients success rate, those harbored elk are to be removed from the count.

The oped also trotted out the same list of landowner programs they always do when landowner issues arise, such as Block Management. Block Management's intent is not a bandaid to public access theft or harbored elk. These programs are great for certain landowners, in certain circumstances. These privatizing, access obstructing, often outfitting landowners do not want BM, they probably make far more money off the outfitting.  As to Unlocking State Lands, anyone can take a look at the public Montana Cadastral program, the Forest Service map or hunting landownership maps to see there are no State blue lands in the interior of the Crazy Mountains. So why bring these things up? It simply is not applicable and muddies the waters of what is really taking place. More importantly, those programs do nothing to address year round public access to our public lands, not just hunters.

The oped also plays on the false stereotype of landowner vs recreationist, the haves vs the have nots. That is not the case. These access obstructing landowners are hurting other landowners as well, including some who sold them their lands!





For example: In response to a 1999 letter from Chuck Rein of the Rein Anchor Ranch about the Sweet Grass Road/Trail being signed (pics above I took on June 28, 2015 when I began on the ground documentation of the access obstructions), part of the road has been renamed to Rein Lane, landowners Ralph and Barbara Cosgriff  replied in 2003. The Cosgriffs were trying to maintain their friendship, but stated they were going to, "preserve our right to free and unrestricted access to our properties along Sweet Grass Creek and the general area." The Cosgriff's wrote that since 1916 their family had used the road, including commercial use,  as well as contributed to it's improvements;  as did others, including the Federal government. The Cosgriffs did not want to limit their access or that of any potential future buyer's access. "We don't intend by this letter to take any action with regard to your sign or Carroccia's sign, but we don't necessarily agree that the road is not public and certainly don't intend to restrict our future use of the road." In 2001, the Cosgriff's got in touch with USFS Frank Cifala who recorded, "Mr. Cosgriff was rather upset with a letter he had received and stated the Carroccias had gone 'too far'. The Carroccias are limiting public access across their property... Mr. Cosgriff stated he had proof that the County and Forest Service had maintained portions of the road/trail across his father-in-law's private land in the Sweet Grass Creek drainage within the National Forest." When asked if Cosgriff would be willing to exchange easements, Cosgriff replied, "...there was no need since it was a 'public road' through both." The Cosgriffs provided historical proof to the Forest Service and statements. The Cosgriff's friends and guests were at times also harassed while trying to visit them.

Another group of letters from my FOIA, involves the Van Cleves being obstructed from using these public trails to get to some of their other checkerboarded land or the public land  beyond. They were obstructed by the Langhus' of the Hailstone Ranch. So this is very clearly not a landowners vs recreationist issue, it is privatizing landowners against other landowners, the public ownership and the Federal government which manages on our behalf concerning access.

Another document I just uploaded is an affidavit by USFS Robert Dennee, the Lands Program Manager for the Gallatin National Forest in 2007. In the affidavit, Dennee discusses FS historic roads and trails, specifically the Porcupine-Lowline trail, which I did some documentation on with Brad Wilson, in the last newsletter. "In situations where continued use of a historical road or trail access route is challenged or closed, Forest Service direction and policy is also to take actions necessary to protect the existing rights to NFS lands.

The Porcupine - Lowline trail system, including Trails #195, #258, #267 and #272, is located on the southwest side of the Crazy Mountains. This system of existing historic trails crosses intermingled private and NFS lands and it continues to provide needed access to NFS lands for public recreation and for administrative purposes."

Dennee then goes on to address the need to perfect the trail access rights and specifically addresses another of the access obstructing landowners involved with the letters to Daines, Perdue, Tidwell, Marten and Erickson - that of Ned Zimmerman. Dennee states they began trying to work with Guth Zimmerman and Ned Zimmerman in 2004. That was 13 years ago.

To provide an example of another access theft by an outfitting landowner in the Gallatin Forest and the Forest Service's response, when the Forest Service wasn't afraid to do their job, as then District Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz did, is a letter from US Deputy Assistant General Counsel, James B. Snow, legal counsel for the Forest Service, calling this theft what it it. Please note, this letter is not from the Region 1 OGC office in Missoula, MT, but all the way from Washington, D.C. Here are some excerpts:

"For the record, let's make it clear what this dispute is all about... it is about private individuals shutting off lawful public access in order to expropriate public lands for their exclusive use and personal gain... In 1987, the former owner of the Ranch, Mr. James Hubbard, physically cut off access over the Donahue Trail thereby effectively expropriating four sections (approximately 2400 acres) of extremely valuable Federal land for exclusive private commercial outfitting for hunting. He also constructed roads and a gate in trespass on the Federal lands, and constructed fences in violation of the Unlawful Inclosures Act..."

The new out of state landowners, who perpetuated the obstruction, leased their land to Hubbard for continued hunting outfitting. One of the 2 landowners their Ohio congressmen to attempt legislation that would force the Forest Service into a land exchange they had previously rejected as, "not being in the public interest." Snow addressed this. "Your principal exchange proposal would merely ratify your clients' trespass and expropriation of sections... The Point of Rocks Ranch wants the Government to trade it some of the last remaining sections of forested elk winter habitat in the area in return for adjacent clearcut lands. To reduce the obvious disparity in values, your clients propose to allow the Federal Government to reserve title to the timber. However, the highest and best use of those Federally owned tracts is for hunting and recreation, not timber. Therefore, in addition to the negative public impacts of your proposals, there would be a considerable disparity in valuation in your clients favor... The Forest Service does not believe that such a swap would be in the public interest because of the loss of prime publicly owned elk habitat which would be hereafter managed for private exclusive commercial hunting and recreation. We easily predict a public outcry at any attempt to exchange away any Federal interest in valuable elk winter range..."

Snow then stated the trail existed as a matter of law, that the public had a right to use it to get access to Federal lands. "Contrary to your frequent assertions, there is no taking of private rights here. The rights are already established in the general public under Montana law. If the Forest Service does not assert those rights of public access, they will be asserted by others. In fact, by letter dated July 17, 1992, we have been notified of the intent of the Public Lands Access Association Inc. (former name of of Public Land/Water Access Association - PLWA), to sue if the Donahue Trail is relocated off its historic right-of-way."

This is the type of defense we need of our public access to our public lands, from our Federal managers, who steward on our behalf. Instead, under this administration, the DOJ quashed subpoenas the FS to testify in the Gregoire case involving FS Trail #115/136 this year. Then Yellowstone District Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz was removed from his position for DOING HIS JOB, according to Forest Service policy. Instead of out of state landowners getting their legislators to force the hand of the Forest Service to something against the best interest of the public and the Forest Service, certain Montana landowners went through Senator Steve Daines to "expropriate" (deprive an owner of their property) the public of our public access to our public lands.

On a final note, I finally got to some of the video footage shot on the west side of the Crazy Mountains with Brad Wilson, founder of Friends of the Crazy Mountains. I am having a wee bit of a learning curve with the new software. I also set up a temporary webpage for the Friends of the Crazy Mountains, who are concerned with trail maintenance, historical documentation and public access on the west side. They now have a PayPal account which also takes credit/debit cards. Please check them out. Some of you were reaching out to help with trail maintenance or historical use information, thank you, this will be helpful to restoring access.

This 4 minute video segment begins with the Shields-Lowline trail, including a statement about their meeting with then District Ranger Alex Sienkiewicz and his professionalism as a public trust steward of our public lands.





Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250 (202) 720-2791

Forest Service Chief, Thomas Tidwell,  ttidwell@fs.fed.us   (202) 205-8439

Region 1, Regional Forester Leann Marten,  lmarten@fs.fed.us   (406) 329-3315

Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson,  mcerickson@fs.fed.us  (406) 587-6949

Senator Steve Daines, senator@daines.senate.gov   (202) 224-2651

Even though Sen. Tester was not evident in the letters, please contact him as well.
Sen. Jon Tester,  senator@tester.senate.gov   (202) 224-2644

Representative Greg Gianforte, 1419 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3211
greg.gianforte@mail.house.gov  (you can try this, this is the one his office gave me, but mine keep coming back unable to deliver. For a technology guy, you would think he would have a functioning email address)


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Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
406-579-7748
www.EMWH.org
Bozeman, MT

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Face of Things To Come... If We Don't Mobilize To Stop It


"We can and should have an abundance of trails for walking, cycling, and horseback riding...
In the back country we need to copy the great Appalachian Trail in all parts of America,
and to make full use of right-of-way and other public paths."
~
President Lyndon B. Johnson



The Face of Things To Come... If We Don't Mobilize To Stop It

I woke up to poison ivy this morning. I have a great poison ivy soap that neutralizes the urishiol, so this will pass quickly. But how I got poison ivy is not so easily remedied. I got it yesterday, documenting one of our blocked FS Trails, #267 - the Porcupine Trail, in the NW Crazy Mountains.

This morning I not only woke up to short term poison ivy, I woke to another PERC article equating our historical roads and trails access to trespassing, and their privatizing perspective of those trails with Uber or Airbnb, that the public should pay landowners for access we already have to our public lands, like a toll road. On the 14th, there was a PERC article in Colorado on this issue. I'm starting to get a Billy Goat Gruff vs. the PERC Troll editorial cartoon in my head, which is quite appropos if you understand that the Crazy Mountains are home to one of the largest Mountain Goat populations in Montana.

So here we were, Brad and I, from the trailhead of the FS Porcupine Trail #267 to the locked gate circled in red.



Brad Wilson, who was born and raised in the area, was my guide. His grandfather was one of the original landowners around the Shields area. Brad worked for Park County Roads division for about 8 years, then was a Deputy Sheriff for another 8 years. He understands access issues intimately. Brad recently began the Friends of the Crazy Mountains group to address access issues on the west side of the Crazies. (If anyone wants to join or contribute to the immediate issue at hand, perhaps trail maintenance, contact Brad Wilson, friendsofthecrazymountains@gmail.com   P.O. Box 77, Wilsall, MT, 59086 , Friends of the Crazy Mountains Facebook)- webpage coming soon). I was given an honorary Friends of the Crazy Mountains camo hat. ;)

So Brad takes me on this trail where I am documenting with video, photos and gps for the big interactive Crazy Mountain map soon to go up. I documented blaze trees, which help to let the public know where the trail is, especially if you don't have gps. Then we get to the boundary line of a property owner, Zimmerman, who has a gate blocking this historic trail that goes through that property, connects to the main Porcupine Lowline Trail #267 and another trail #195, which runs through mostly FS public land heading south. Zimmerman is one of the landowners which outfits and grazes, who signed the letters that resulted in the removal of Alex Sienkiewicz as the Yellowstone District Ranger, reaching out to Senator Daines up to newly sworn in Ag Sec. Sonny Perdue.






If you were not intimately familiar with this trail, you would probably be deterred by this lock and gate. 2 years ago Brad had seen a Private Property, No Forest Service Access, No Trespassing sign at that gate, which he told others about; it was not there now, but you could see the remnants of FS signs on the wooden posts. We were not deterred, we passed the gate, followed the trail on my highly accurate gps and I photographed the blaze trees along the way, until we got to the meadow clearing. We then returned to the FS public lands.

On the way back down the trail, Brad spotted some white in the brush. Thinking it was a Forest Service sign that had been removed, he went down to get it. It tuned out to be the metal Private Property sign that used to be at the gate.




Get a good hard look at these pictures.

This could be you trying to access our Public Lands on our historic public access trails. This could be the face of all historic unperfected roads and trails on our public lands to come.

Please contact the officials involved, contact information below.

I am including information for submitting Letters To the Editor or if you are part of an organization, a hunting/angling or other recreation group, an Opinion Editorial to the newspapers. We need to get the word out, THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT THE CRAZY MOUNTAINS OR ALEX SIENKIWICZ. This is about all our unperfected federal roads and trails and our federal employees that follow policy, do their job, that could be targeted by any landowner utilizing their political connections.

To submit a Letter To the Editor (LTE) or Opinion Editorial (Oped), most papers have the same policy: Letters have a word limit or fewer, and MUST include your real name, city of residence and daytime phone number (they call to confirm that you are who you are and you actually sent in the LTE. In the Subject Line begin with LTE or Oped, then your title. Some papers only publish letters from within their primary readership. Opinion Editorials (Oped) from groups/organizations, established writers, have higher word limits and may request a picture.




Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250 (202) 720-2791
Forest Service Chief, Thomas Tidwell,  ttidwell@fs.fed.us   (202) 205-8439

Region 1, Regional Forester Leann Marten,  lmarten@fs.fed.us   (406) 329-3315

Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson,  mcerickson@fs.fed.us  (406) 587-6949

Senator Steve Daines, senator@daines.senate.gov   (202) 224-2651

Even though Sen. Tester was not evident in the letters, please contact him as well.
Sen. Jon Tester,  senator@tester.senate.gov   (202) 224-2644
Representative Greg Gianforte, 1419 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3211
greg.gianforte@mail.house.gov  (you can try this, this is the one his office gave me, but mine keep coming back unable to deliver. For a technology guy, you would think he would have a functioning email address)


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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat



Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
406-579-7748
www.EMWH.org
Bozeman, MT

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dangerous HR 622 Revival From Limbo


"H.R. 622 would negatively impact our valuable lands and waters
at a time when law enforcement is critically needed to safeguard
important natural and cultural resources and secure public safety"
~
Land Tawney, BHA President


H.R. 622 - Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act

Well hail, this is what I woke up to this morning. :(

One avenue of attack from the Sagebrush Rebellion is to remove our Federal public lands management agencies law enforcement officers. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) the sponsor for the infamous steal our public lands bill H.R. 621, also sponsored H.R.622, which I hope would simply die. HR 622 is a threat to our public lands, the resources, to recreationists on the public lands and to other federal employees who help to steward our public lands and resources. With Chaffetz not tolerating all the angry blowback from the public on his views and bills, he is leaving congress to join Fox News.

I just got notification that Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), a cosponsor of H.R. 622, "asked unanimous consent that he may hereafter be considered as the first sponsor of H.R. 622, a bill originally introduced by Representative Chaffetz, for the purpose of adding cosponsors and requesting reprintings pursuant to clause 7 of rule XII. Agreed to without objection."

So we are probably going to be seeing some action on this now.


"Another Chaffetz bill, H.R. 622, would eliminate law enforcement officers from U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, making it even harder for the chronically underfunded agencies to protect wildlife habitat, prevent poaching, preserve cultural sites, prevent reckless off-road vehicle use and otherwise take care of the nearly 440 million acres of land these two agencies collectively manage.

Furthermore, an association of federal agents and officers said it "vehemently disagrees" with Chaffetz's proposal because it will put public and federal workers at risk and embolden anti-public lands interests like the Bundy family, potentially leading to more violent incidents like the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff.

In early February, a survey highlighted that many staffers from national wildlife refuges and other public lands feel less safe than in the past, with about one in five saying they, their staff or their families have been threatened or harassed over land management disputes. Slashing law enforcement in such places only emboldens anti-federal vigilantes like the Bundys to trash the land and resources we all treasure and take the law into their own hands."


H.R. 622 - "This bill declares that, by September 30, 2017, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) shall terminate the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations unit and cease using Forest Service employees to perform law enforcement functions on federal lands.

Also by such date, the Department of the Interior shall terminate the Bureau of Land Management Office of Law Enforcement and cease using Interior employees to perform law enforcement functions on federal lands.

Interior shall make a grant to each state to permit the state to maintain law and order on federal land, protect individuals and property on federal lands, and enforce federal law.

Any state or local government receiving the grant or subgrant shall enter into an agreement with Interior or USDA, as appropriate, to address the maintenance of law and order and the protection of individuals and property on federal land.

In any such agreement, Interior or USDA must waive all civil claims against the state or local government and indemnify that government and save it harmless from all claims by third parties for property damage or personal injury that may arise out of law enforcement functions performed under the agreement.

A state or local law enforcement officer performing law enforcement functions pursuant to such an agreement shall not generally be deemed a federal employee with respect to hours of work, compensation rates, leave, unemployment compensation, and federal benefits, among other things."


We need to stop this immediately!

Rep. Chris Stewart - (202) 225-9730
323 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 

Here are the other Cosponsors, I see Texas just joined this team in May.

Like so many other Republicans I have tried to contact on public trust issues they are keen to strip the public of, if you are not in their district (you have to provide your zip code), the email form on their website will not let you submit an email comment. I have not been able to find an email address with which to email Stewart.

Anyone know of a Stewart email address that actually works, to get a comment on the public record that isn't whitewashed by a phone call message?

Here are a few articles on HR 622 when it was active to refresh people's minds as to how dangerous this bill is for everyone, including other federal employees:

Backcountry Hunters, Retired Federal Officers Urge Utah Rep To Drop HR 622

Bill to Cut Forest Service and BLM Enforcement is a Poacher’s Dream, Sportsman’s Nightmare by Ben Long

Sportsmen take aim at law enforcement bill.



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Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat



Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
406-579-7748
www.EMWH.org
Bozeman, MT

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Crazy Mounatins Public Trust and the Antiquities Act

"Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife,
are in fact plans to protect man."
~ Stewart Udall, 37th US Sec. of Interior, author of The Quiet Crisis


Presidents Lack the Authority to Abolish or Diminish National Monuments law review below...
I love law reviews and cases, I think part of it is they provide boundaries. Kind of like that saying, "Givers need to set limits, because takers rarely do."

Durfee Hills/Wilks Brothers update - on July 2, 2016, over a year ago now, I submitted a BLM FOIA for documentation on all the investigation, fines, penalties, rehabilitation and stabilization plan for all the damage to our public lands they did, including removing federal boundary markers. About 2 weeks after I submitted my FOIA, all the sudden the Wilks put out a news release that they had reached an agreement with the BLM on the trespass damage. My FOIA was assigned a case number and the tracking date showed it was due by the end of Sept. It has been an ongoing process of excuses and delays over the year. The last I heard from BLM was January 12, so catching up after the legislative session, I got back on that horse and began contacting DC and Senator Tester about my unbelievably way overdue FOIA. I have my suspicions why they haven't provided it before. At any rate, Tester's office looked into this and replied. I might actually be getting my BLM FOIA soon.

Recent news articles on the Crazy Mountain, Alex Sienkiewicz machinations:
7/7/2017 Sienkiewicz reassignment raises questions - Livingston Enterprise Editor


The Enterprise Editorial makes a very important public trust statement in this complex situation - "Erickson declined to offer additional details, calling the review an 'internal matter' that’s not “a public process.”

She further stated in her interview with Yellowstone Newspapers that the review is 'not a public process and the results of that are not a public document.'

We would strongly disagree with the forest supervisor.

Sienkiewicz is a public official and any such review should be open and available for public scrutiny, especially considering the widespread interest this matter has generated in recent weeks across Montana.

The Forest Service must be forthcoming about the decisions leading up to Sienkiewicz’s reassignment. Furthermore, it must be transparent about its ongoing review.

After all, Sienkiewicz occupies a position of public trust and his actions in that role impact all forest users." - our public lands.



I have been working on the large interactive map that will make it easier for the public to see what all is going on in the Crazies, I have also put in additional document requests as a result of additional research.

I submitted my Fish, Wildlife & Parks request for licensing information. While doing some earlier queries on Sen. Steve Daines to see if there were any connections to the Crazy Mountains, to understand why he would ignore a number of public hunter's pleas for public access restriction help, yet go all out and up to the highest USDA authority, Sec. of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on the ag, outfitting and landowners false claims, I saw some PR articles from years ago mentioning Daines enjoying public lands so much, especially hunting and fishing in the Crazy Mountains.

After looking at the Montana Cadastral, seeing he doesn't own any land in any of the 4 counties surrounding the Crazy Mountains, I wondered just how he is getting in there to enjoy all his hunting and fishing on our public lands in the Crazies? You know, seeing as how so much of it has increasingly been blocked off by outfitting landowners there. So I submitted 14 names associated with this chain of false allegations involving Sienkiewicz's removal from District Ranger, to see their hunting/angling history, and specifically any requests/tags for the draw only antelope, elk and mountain goat hunting districts - this could represent a serious conflict of interest here. I was notified that that only 10 of my 14 names had hunting histories and should be receiving those soon. Of the 10 who do have MT hunting histories, this includes Sen. Daines, who officially sent on false allegations; recently sworn in Sec. of Interior Sonny Perdue who received the false allegations; Sec. of Interior Ryan Zinke, also a recipient; and "sagebrush rebellion leader" Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has been a guest of Monzer Hourani's Crazy Mountain property.

While Montana is a great hunting and angling destination for many outside of the state, I am specifically interested to see if any of my 10 have a vested interest in protecting the privatized stranglehold on our public lands in the Crazy, therefore acted to have a public trust employee removed to prevent the public from being able to access those same public lands and public resources.



Law Review - For about a week I have had this PDF law review, finally made time to read it this morning. I wish I had read it right away, it would have a a weeks peace of mind on this front. I had to share with y'all. I am hoping that it will give many of you some much needed peace of mind, as it did me.

The short and quick - the President, nor his Interior Secretary, has the authority to modify or revoke withdrawls of a monument designation!



Some key points

  • In 1976, Congress enacted the Federal Land Policy and Management Act which governs the management of federally managed public lands lacking any specific designation as a national park, national forest, national wildlife refuge, etc.
  • The legislative history for FLPMA confirms that the President does not possess the authority to revoke or downsize a monument designation.
  • FLPMA codified federal policy to retain - rather than dispose of - the remaining federal public lands.
  • FLPMA repealed the Pickett Act, along with most other executive authority for withdrawing lands - with the notable exception of the Antiquities Act, Congress alone may modify or abolish monuments.
  • FLPMA also stated 204(j) the Interior Secretary, "...shall not...modify or revoke any withdrawal creating national monuments under the [Antiquities Act]..."
  • In FLPMA's legislative history, presented to the House floor for debate, "With certain exceptions, [the bill] will repeal all existing law relating to executive authority to create, modify, and terminate withdrawls and reservations. It would reserve to the Congress the authority to create, modify, and terminate withdrawls for national parks, national forests, the Wilderness System, Indian reservations, certain defense withdrawls, and withdrawls for National Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Trails, and for other 'national' recreation units, such as National Recreation Areas and National Seashores. It would also specifically reserve to the Congress the authority to modify and revoke withdrawls for national monuments created under the Antiquities Act and for modification and revocation of withdrawls adding lands to the National Wildlife Refuge System. These provisions will insure that the integrity of the great national resource management systems will remain under the control of Congress."
  • "For more than 100 years, Presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Barack Obama have used the Antiquities Act to protect our historical, scientific, and cultural heritage, often at the very moment when these resources were at risk of exploitation. That is the enduring legacy of this extraordinary law. And it remains our best hope for preserving our public land resources well into the future."






____________________


Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250 (202) 720-2791
Forest Service Chief, Thomas Tidwell,  ttidwell@fs.fed.us   (202) 205-8439

Region 1, Regional Forester Leann Marten,  lmarten@fs.fed.us   (406) 329-3315

Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson,  mcerickson@fs.fed.us  (406) 587-6949

Senator Steve Daines, senator@daines.senate.gov   (202) 224-2651

Even though Sen. Tester was not evident in the letters, please contact him as well.
Sen. Jon Tester,  senator@tester.senate.gov   (202) 224-2644

Representative Greg Gianforte, 1419 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3211
greg.gianforte@mail.house.gov  (you can try this, this is the one his office gave me, but mine keep coming back unable to deliver. For a technology guy, you would think he would have a functioning email address)




Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat



Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
406-579-7748
www.EMWH.org
Bozeman, MT

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Montana Stockgrowers Association Letter to Forest Service - Crazy Mountain Public Access


"Almost any privatizing special interest will legislate its creed into law
if it acquires the political power to do so."
~
borrowed from Heinline


Recent news articles:
7/6/2017 Access to our public lands must be protected - The Bozeman Chronicle Editorial Board

Yet another special interest letter...

There seems to be no end to the special interest letters from organizations bandying about that PLWA Facebook post, falsely ascribed to Alex Sienkiewicz, former Yellowstone District Ranger. But all roads keep leading back to a handful of the same Crazy Mountain landowners, in key organization positions, promoting these letters.

Thanks to yet another person concerned with this situation, I have a letter sent to Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson, on December 30, 2016. This one is signed by landowners Lorents Grosfield, Chuck Rein and Ned Zimmerman on behalf of the Montana Stockgrowers Association, the Crazy Mountain Stockgrowers Association, and the Montana Public Lands Council, which is made up of, wait for it..., the Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Woolgrowers Association.


I love irony, so here's is what I find terribly ironic in this Montana Stockgrowers Association letter with their resolutions:


1. They open with the statement, "While Mr. Sienkiewicz may have a law degree, a search of the State Bar of Montana website reveals that he is not licensed to practice law in Montana. Yet, as you can see on the post, he is continuing to provide legal advice, in the name of the Forest Service..."

Yes, Sienkiewicz received a law degree from the University of Montana, but he doesn't need that to back up his directions to his leadership teams and seasonal workers because the Forest Service policy and Office of General Council (legal) have already done that, as shown by my FOIA documents.



2. In their desperate attempt at a "gotcha" moment, with which to hang Alex Sienkiewicz, they propagate the false allegation that he not only posted to Public Land/Water Association's Facebook page, but provided them with "legal advice". He did neither. No branch of the Montana Stockgrowers Association bothered to verify any of their assumptions before making them official and submitting them on the Federal public record. Screenshot of the administrative PLWA Facebook page showing the poster - NOT Sienkiewicz.

3. They falsely claim that Sienkiewicz's following and advocating FS policy on behalf of the public landowners they manage for, has "alienated landowners" and invited "vigilante action against landowners". They disingenuously state his actions were extremely "unprofessional", strongly suggesting he be reprimanded, "cease his covert and heavy-handed attempts to undermine property rights." Talk about projection!

Vigilante is defined as a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority. These Montana Stockgrowers Association landowners have illegally blocked access from the public to our federally managed public lands, alienating the public and the Forest Service, which has repeatedly tried to peacefully manage for multiple use and negotiate with these landowners for resolution. The MSGA have unprofessionally used a false allegation not vetted, to covertly and heavy-handedly undermine our public property rights.

4. The MSGA then claims of these access routes, "whether roads or trails, were never Forest Service 'public' access routes."


I give you two shots from Forest Service maps below of the Crazy Mountains, from 1937 and 1925 showing the public access trail system which has been "covertly" and "heavy-handedly" undermined against the public for DECADES, by privatizing certain privatizing landowners.

The various branches of the Montana Stockgrowers Associations involved, proceed to sound all legalese with their resolutions, which you can suffer to read for yourself. Understand, when they demand these actions by the Forest Service, such as deleting all trails and roads or portions thereof from future USFS and BLM published maps, they are not just talking about the Crazy Mountains, this is a nationwide machination to steal our public access to our public lands across the whole of the United States... and they are using Alex Sienkiewicz and that bullshit allegation Facebook post as their springboard excuse.

I see a cathartic editorial cartoon in this... the Facebook post that launched a 1000 sheeps and cattle...  ;)

And if you are so inclined to send a public comment to MSGA about their covert, heavy-handed and unprofessional undermining of a federal employee, Alex Sienkiewicz, and our public land rights, Bryan Mussard is the current President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. MSGA :
bryanmussard@hotmail.com        (406) 442--3420 and Errol Rice is the Executive Vice-President: errol@mtbeef.org






Click for the Crazy Mountain Public Access webpage

____________________


Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250 (202) 720-2791

Forest Service Chief, Thomas Tidwell,  ttidwell@fs.fed.us   (202) 205-8439

Region 1, Regional Forester Leann Marten,  lmarten@fs.fed.us   (406) 329-3315

Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson,  mcerickson@fs.fed.us  (406) 587-6949

Senator Steve Daines, senator@daines.senate.gov   (202) 224-2651

Even though Sen. Tester was not evident in the letters, please contact him as well.
Sen. Jon Tester,  senator@tester.senate.gov   (202) 224-2644
Representative Greg Gianforte, 1419 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-3211
greg.gianforte@mail.house.gov  (you can try this, this is the one his office gave me, but mine keep coming back unable to deliver. For a technology guy, you would think he would have a functioning email address)


Thank you to some subscribers for contributing to this crazy Crazy Mountain public access work: Tim Crawford, Stan Meyer, Dwayne Garner, John Borgreen, Montana Sportsmen Alliance, and an anonymous contributor. 


Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to
Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat



Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
406-579-7748
www.EMWH.org
Bozeman, MT

How TX Rep. Pete Sessions is going after your Federal Public Land Access Across and Lands

Texas Representative Pete Sessions' Letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue
 

On June 7, 2017, US Representative Pete Sessions from Dallas (R-TX) wrote to the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, carbon copying the Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (Montana) – letter attached below. 
 

In Sessions' letter he states that Chris Hudson (Dallas), owner of the Wonder Ranch in Montana is one of his Texas constituents. There is more to this though, than a federal legislator from another state, weighing in on behalf of a voting constituent.
 

Sessions requests Sec. Purdue issue a directive precluding the Forest Service from acquiring prescriptive easements and disavowing the Federal agency that manages our public trust lands and resources, from filing Statements of Interest for public access to our federally managed public lands. We have a growing problem, here in Montana and in the West, of public access to our public lands increasingly being cut off. Sessions did not request Sec. Purdue look into the one issue at the Wonder Ranch, nor the current issue in the Crazy Mountains (MT). He does not directly the Crazy Mountain, but references it by the “District Ranger” issue and his forwarding of a Facebook post in question. The post is by the Public Land/Water Access Association, a Montana organization, founded by retired Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Lewis (Gene) Hawkes, whose mission is to maintain, restore, and perpetuate public access to the boundaries of all Montana public land and waters.
 

Under Montana law, the elements of a prescriptive easement claim are open, notorious, exclusive, adverse, continuous, and uninterrupted use for the statutory period. The public, in a variety of ways, has been utilizing trails and roads throughout the Crazy Mountains for over a 100 years. The USFS Statement of Interest asserts that it has and claims easements for the National Forest Trails over and across real property.
 

Rep. Sessions did not investigate the false allegation against Alex Sienkiewicz. Sienkiewicz is a dedicated public trust Forest Service employee, who until recently held the position of the Yellowstone District Ranger. The YDR administrates our public lands in the Crazy Mountains, in the northern part of the Custer Gallatin National Forest. If Sessions had investigated the false allegation that Sienkiewicz posted, “in an official capacity” to PLWA's Facebook page, before he passed it on in his official capacity, he might have easily found out that former FS District Ranger Sienkiewicz did not make the post. It appears, the individuals and groups utilizing this Facebook post, are simply using what they thought, was a “gottcha” moment to springboard to their real objectives involving our public lands.


Sessions also alleges that USFS Region 1 went rogue during the Obama administration, calling it a “war on private property owners conducted by the Obama administration”. This is simply a dog whistle, having nothing to do with Obama or his administration.
 

Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat Forest Service FOIA documents (1, 2, 3) show that prescriptive easements and Statements of Interest have been used by our Federal land agencies for decades, well before Obama became President in 2008.


So why is Rep. Pete Sessions getting involved with some public land access issues here in Montana? And why is Sessions requesting newly appointed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue take such drastic nationwide actions as precluding the Forest Service from acquiring prescriptive easements and disavowing the Federal agency from filing Statements of Interest for public access?


Could it be because another land owner, with private land adjacent to our FS Crazy Mountains public lands, Monzer Hourani from Houston, TX, is a major contributor of his? Hourani, a real estate developer who specializes in medical, biotech and pharmaceutical design and construction, owns the Montana Eagle Ranch (Montana Ranch Corp., I did a search with Montana Cadastral), on the northwest side of the Crazy Mountains. Hourani is not just a contributor to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), but a major contributor, supporter and friend of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In fact, Hourani (CEO Medistar Corporation) broke Federal election laws contributing to Hatch. Hourani was fined $10,000, “Hourani next caused Hatch headaches when he broke federal election law to benefit his friend. After Hourani had given the maximum personal donations to Hatch allowed by law, he gave more money to employees and asked them to donate it to Hatch in their own names.”


Hatch is listed as #3 in a Top "Public Lands Enemies" in Congress report: Fifteen Federal Lawmakers From Eight Western States Plotting to Seize, Dismantle, Destroy and Privatize America's Public Lands. “Between 2011 and 2016, Senator Orrin Hatch sponsored or cosponsored 19 of the 48 anti-public lands bills we identified, making him Public Lands Enemy #3.” Sen. Hatch's website states, “The Federal Government owns most of the land in Utah – making decisions without even consulting state and local officials. This is an outrage...” Hatch is part of the movement to transfer or sell our pubic lands to the States, boasting, “As a leader in the Sagebrush Rebellion, I've been fighting to turn federal lands in our state over to Utahns to own and control.” What Sen. Hatch does not understand is that the American public owns those lands, our public trust, which the Federal government manages on our behalf. 
 

Senator Orrin Hatch knows our Crazy Mountains up close and personal, having been a guest at Monzer Hourani's property there. To experience all that the Crazy Mountains has to offer, has become limited by certain landowner efforts to close public access to the FS public lands. No one should have to rely on a landowner's hospitality or have to pay as a client, just to access these public lands. Perhaps Texas Rep. Pete Sessions received more than just campaign contributions from Hourani, but also enjoyed his Montana Eagle Ranch hospitality, adjacent our public lands?



Texas has less than 2% Federal lands, and not all of that 2% is publicly accessible, part belonging to the Department of Defense and Native American Reservations.

Montana, however, enjoys and benefits from about 30% Federally managed public lands, which contribute greatly to our way of life and abundant and growing outdoor recreation economy.


Texas Representative Pete Sessions might want to consider that not everyone wants be like “No Trespassing” Texas. 
 

What the Texas Representative is requesting from the Secretary of Agriculture, is a “taking” from the US Public – historic public prescriptive rights and access, especially in the West. Sessions' suggestion of legislation to achieve this theft from the public and would hinder the Federal agencies who manage our various public lands. It is also, yet another attempt to chip away at the public trust and legislative special interests over our public lands. This just might earn Sessions a notorious spot on the “Public Lands Enemies” list.







Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250 (202) 720-2791

Forest Service Chief, Thomas Tidwell,  ttidwell@fs.fed.us   (202) 205-8439

Region 1, Regional Forester Leann Marten,  lmarten@fs.fed.us   (406) 329-3315

Custer Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson,  mcerickson@fs.fed.us  (406) 587-6949

Senator Steve Daines, steve@daines.senate.gov   (202) 224-2651

Even though Sen. Tester was not evident in the letters, please contact him as well.
Sen. Jon Tester,  senator@tester.senate.gov   (202) 224-2644 

Representative Greg Gianforte, 1419 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515