Pearce Addresses Threats to NM Freedoms

Steve Pearce
Many of us in New Mexico have fond memories of the Gila as a weekend paradise. We have spent Friday nights after work driving to our favorite spot, unloading the kids, camping out, telling stories, and making memories before piling back into the minivan, pickup, or station wagon on Sunday. Our schedules don’t allow us to spend days or weeks hiking in, but open access has always made this a treasure to be enjoyed by all. Now, the Forest Service wants to take away that freedom. Numerous New Mexicans have been contacting me—by email, phone, Facebook, meetings, and when I visit their hometowns—to tell their stories. They tell me of a friend or family member who will lose access to their favorite corner of the world. They tell me of their memories of the Gila, and their hopes for future trips. They tell me that to preserve these, the proposed closures must be stopped.
Some, like Reverend Mike Skidmore from Truth or Consequences, simply love escaping with their loved ones into the Gila. For Rev. Skidmore, the Gila is a place to enjoy nature and “get away”—an experience he has shared with his children, grandchildren, and even members of his congregation. He fears that road closures will force everyone to the same crowded campsites, ending the days of quiet refuge and fellowship he always found there. Others have expressed concern for the elderly and disabled. The joys of the forest should be available to everyone, not just those with the physical ability to hike miles with a heavy pack. Charlie and Paula Stevens have camped in the Taylor Creek Canyon together for the past 35 years. The couple explained that as they grow older, they will become unable to access their spot without roads. Restricted access could bring their lifelong tradition to an end. This sort of discrimination against the elderly and disabled is unacceptable.

Some worry about their families. Butch Morgan, a local small-business owner, shared his disappointment that his eleven grandchildren could be unable to experience the forest the way he did when he was their age. Restricting access could mean that fewer families have the time or ability to make memories in this splendid forest. Those who live in the Gila, including ranchers and farmers, are deeply concerned. Roads throughout the Gila connect them to their livelihoods, their homes, and their backyards. Still others worry about safety. I share their concerns: any time roads are closed, it is important to ensure that emergency personnel will not be impeded. When addressing public safety, minutes count. I will continue to ask questions and hold the Forest Service accountable to ensure that no time is lost. I share the concerns of my fellow New Mexicans, and will fight for their access to our national treasures. But I can’t do this alone. Attend local meetings. Call your friends and newspapers. Express your concerns to the rest of our congressional delegation, and to the Forest Service. Together, we can defend the freedom to enjoy the Gila for generations to come.



Anonymous said...

Please note that in the Constitution for the United States there are no provisions for the federal government to hold and manage land for lands sake. That means no forests, no parks, no wilderness. There are two types of land the feds can manage. One is territory so maybe these areas are territory still and were never ceded to the state. The other land is land for needful buildings such as forts, etc. purchased from the state with permission of the state legislature. The feds do not have eminent domain. EM was never granted and does not exist de facto.

If the lands in our forests are in fact territory retained then Congress is empowered to make the rules and Congress may not delegate any such authority to the Forest Service.

Delegata potestas non potest delegari.

That which has been delegated cannot be delegated to another. The original authority was delegated by the People to the Congress as per the Constitution for the United States.

So maybe it's high time someon in NM told the feds to go home and get off our land. Oh yeah, last time the natives here tried that the feds brought the army down on them!

Anonymous said...

The headquarters of our ranch are surrounded by the Gila National Forest, part of which we use for our cattle in the winter. Although we realize it would be a great inconvenience for us, we have suggested to our Forest Service ranger that they close all the roads. The reason? All those "nature lovers" and their motorcycles and ATVs. They don't just use the roads, they use the whole damn forest as if it were a road. They leave gates open all over the place and chase cattle for "fun". It was no fun when I had to shoot one of them because she was so stressed out she went down and could not get up. I have photos of entire meadows denuded after a 3-day weekend of "fun". Woodcutters (not permitted in our area) drive wherever they want and cut trees regardless of whether they are green or dead, on private or public land. We have tried to be friendly and then tolerant, but now we are about ready to put up a gate and lock it.

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