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UFWDA Community Forum  |  Regional Focus - News and Local Events  |  South Central  |  Topic: Illegal Road Closures: Colorado « previous next »
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Author Topic: Illegal Road Closures: Colorado  (Read 8344 times)
Dan Wagman
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« on: March 19, 2009, 08:34:06 pm »

Hello all,

Iím posting because I need your help regarding three illegal road closures in the Pike National Forest in Colorado (just outside of Colorado Springs).

If accessing the roads in our National Forests is important to you, and you absolutely hate it when the Forest Service closes them, especially illegally, AND you want your Congressman to finally jump into action over this, then please come to the meeting scheduled with Congressman Lamborn on April 13, 2009 at 9am. It will only take about 30 minutes of your time but will go a very, very long way in showing the Congressman that we, the people, wonít stand for Forest Service illegal road closures.

The location of the meeting is 1271 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 110, in Colorado Springs.

In brief, the Forest Service has illegally closed three roads in the Pike National Forest to the public. They have been nonresponsive in correcting these ďmistakes.Ē Two stories appeared in the local newspaper about this and have not compelled the Forest Service to correct their actions. Several meetings with Congressman Lamborn and letters from him to the Forest Service have also failed to yield any results. A request by the Congressman for a hearing on this matter by the Committee on Natural Resources also yielded nothing. We need the Congressman to step up and it is time for us, the people, to step up as well and show the Congressman that these roads need to be reopened and can only be closed by following the processes outlined in NEPA.

Please access a brief summary regarding each road here: http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/summary.doc

The details in communication and pictures for the roads in question can be reviewed in the folders from this link: http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service

And if youíre interested in seeing how resistant the Congressman has been in scheduling a meeting with his constituents, click here: http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/april2009_meeting.doc

If you have any questions, letís discuss them here, on this Forum.

Also, several of us will be wheeling up the Eagle Rock trail after the meeting. So if you can take a whole day off, instead of just 30 minutes for the meeting, it would be great for you to join us.

Thank you for attending to this and I most sincerely hope a large number of you will attend this important meeting.

Dan
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2009, 09:35:49 pm »

Please recall that the meeting date has changed to Friday, 4/17 at 4pm, 1271 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 110, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Phone: (719) 520-0055

I would appreciate any help from you guys in letting the rest know of the date change.

THANKS!

Also, after the meeting, dinner at Jack Quinns downtown, on Tejon street, just north of Colorado Ave.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2009, 05:10:48 pm »

A summary of the issue at hand to be discussed with Congressman Lamborn on Friday, along with references to the violations of federal law, can be found here:

http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/FS_NEPA.pdf

This is brief and to the point and well worth your time to review.

The main law that applies here, including text of references to other sections of federal law, can be accessed here, but is extensive: http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/36_CFR_220(NEPA).pdf

Hope to see you at the meeting with Lamborn on Friday, 4pm, 1271 Kelly Johnson Blvd., Suite 110, in Colo. Spgs.   
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 11:46:33 am »

I just received the following from the Congressmanís office. I shall inform you about the new date once it is set.

Dan

<<Mr. Wagman,
 
This is just to follow-up on my phone message I left earlier. I wanted to confirm that our office needs to cancel the meeting this afternoon due to the weather. We still would like to have the meeting take place to discuss these issues and will reschedule at a later date and time. Please give me a call at 202-225-4422 and we can get something on the schedule. 
 
I apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause but I am sure you would agree that it may be unsafe for members of your group and our staff members to drive to the district office for the meeting today.
 
Thank you,
 
Abby Gunderson
Office of Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
437 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202.225.4422 (phone)
202.226.2638 (fax)
abby.gunderson@mail.house.gov  >>
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 01:44:38 pm »

From: "Gunderson, Abby" <Abby.Gunderson@mail.house.gov>
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2009 13:46:57 -0400
To: "Dan Wagman"
Subject: Meeting with Congressman Lamborn

Mr. Wagman,
 
We have received word that the House will be in session tomorrow and voting. Therefore, Congressman Lamborn needs to be in DC tomorrow and cannot come back to the district. Consequently, we need to postpone your meeting. As I stated in my last email, these votes are a last-minute change in the legislative calendar given to us and so we could not anticipate this scheduling conflict.
 
Would you be available to meet with Congressman Lamborn on Monday, August 17th at 4pm? During the month of August, Congress is in recess and so a last-minute change in the voting calendar will not be an issue, as it was this week, and we can prevent this from happening again.
 
I apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.
 
Abby Gunderson
Office of Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
437 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202.225.4422 (phone)
202.226.2638 (fax)
abby.gunderson@mail.house.gov <mailto:abby.gunderson@mail.house.gov>
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2009, 05:12:54 pm »

On June 24 I submitted a FOIA along with several points that the Forest Service needs to address. You may review that letter via this link:

http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/FOIA_371EA_DEIS.pdf

I received a very brief reply that indicated those records do not exist and none of the other points were addressed. Interestingly, the statement that "no such records exist" is proof that federal law was violated in closing these roads.

An appeal to this will be submitted to the new Forest Service Chief this week. Our meeting with Congressman Lamborn is critically important and as many of you as possible need to show up. By the way, I have yet to hear anything from Governor Ritter. I've called twice, yet no response in nearly three months. If you're interested, you may review that writing here:

http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/gov_ritter.pdf

The meeting with Lamborn is scheduled for Aug. 21 @ 2pm. Since getting a meeting date and time has been a pain in the rear (I've spared you those details), I'll make an official announcement once we get a bit closer.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2009, 09:33:16 am »

My letter to Gov. Ritter was received in his office on May 6, 2009 at 10:46 AM. I had to place two phone calls to the Governorís office in order to receive a reply. Note that this reply has taken about 10 weeks.
 

From: "Van Huysen, Heidi" <Heidi.VanHuysen@state.co.us>
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 13:36:06 -0600
To: "Dan Wagman"
Cc: <david.albrechta@state.co.us>
Subject: RE: Illegal Forest Service Road Closures

Dr. Wagman,
 
The Governorís office has been working closely with both the Department of Natural Resources and USFS to respond to your concerns regarding road closures in Pike National Forest. We are committed to understanding the entirety of the issue. I apologize for the delay in our response but appreciate your patience as we finalize our research to ensure we can respond to your concerns from an informed vantage point.

Respectfully,
Heidi Van Huysen
 

Subject: Re: Illegal Forest Service Road Closures
Date: Friday, July 31, 2009 7:46 AM
From: Dan Wagman
To: "Van Huysen, Heidi" <Heidi.VanHuysen@state.co.us>
Dear Heidi,
Without more detail, such as the specific federal laws that have been violated, the Governor will be unable to research this matter accurately nor will a response by the USFS allow for proper evaluation. That is why we wanted to meet with the Governor (and relevant staff) to provide those specifics.

Also note that this issue has involved, literally, thousands of Coloradans that are looking to their Governor to proactively intervene. Collectively, these Coloradans have been dismayed at the lack of response in about 10 wks since the original writing. Iíve been asked to suggest that within the next 10 days you give us a meeting date so that we can provide the Governor, and perhaps you, with the specifics/evidence regarding this matter.

I am looking forward to hearing back from you soon,

Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

W.K. Clifford
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2009, 12:45:49 pm »

Earlier today I had an interesting conversation with two staffers from Governor Ritterís office. They were Heidi Van Huysen, Policy Analyst; and Mike King, Deputy Director for the Dept. of Natural Resources.

They indicated to me that they had written the FS shortly after receiving my letter in early May and did receive a reply. Curiously, they seemed unwilling to detail the FSís response, but I did not want to argue that point (public records, etc.) because we want their help. During the conversation, however, it became clear that the FS fed the Governorís office the same sort of nonsense they had been feeding us. To that point, that FSR 371 is under Special Use Permit with Colo. Spgs. Utilities (but the Permit specifically forbids the utility company from prohibiting public access) and that theyíve extended the Order to close roads on the Rampart Range (but that Order was attained illegally because the public comment period is supposed to be 30 or 45 days, not the 2 wks we received, that Order is for ďtemporaryĒ closures only yet FSR 322A has been closed for over 4 years, etc.).

Anyway, after about 40-45 minutes I could tell that Heidi, who next to me did most of the talking, seemed pressed for time. The way we left it is that they would contact the FS asking specifically for the legal authority they believe to have for closing these roads. Then, depending on their response, we would investigate whether attaining that legal authority followed the requirements set under federal law. Well, we already know the answer to that. It will be interesting to see how the Governorís office works through this.

Heidi told me that sheíd be making calls today and that she expected to get back with me next week. Iíll give her 2 wks though.

Don't forget, Congressman Lamborn, 2pm, 21 Aug., 1271 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 110.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2009, 05:59:00 pm »

OK guys, next Friday, Aug 21 at 2pm, wheel over to Congressman Lamborn's office and let him know how serious you, we all are, about these illegal road closures.

1271 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 110

See you there!
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2009, 09:36:34 am »

OK guys, this is it.  2 more days till the Lamborn meeting.

Let me be frank; unless we show up in numbers, I really don't see anything happening here. The Congressman has already proven ineffective in the meetings I've already had with him and to date the Governor's office seems less than enthused about holding the Forest Service accountable to the law. But if they see a bunch of citizens involved, then they're going to wonder about election day. I'd much rather work on getting them, the Congressman and Governor, to step up to the plate than commence work on retiring them from office.

So, Friday, 2pm, 1271 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 110, Colorado Springs, CO.

Be there!
« Last Edit: August 19, 2009, 11:25:15 am by Dan Wagman » Logged
Dan Wagman
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« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2009, 10:29:49 am »

Everybody, please review what I just received from the Governorís office, to include my reply. I believe that it is abundantly obvious that the Governorís response is unsatisfactory. I am urging you in the strongest way possible to write the Governorís staffer (Heidi.VanHuysen@state.co.us) and the Governor directly (http://www.colorado.gov/apps/oit/governor/citizen/assistanceUtility/welcome.jsf) why you feel that their response is unsatisfactory and what you expect from them. I frankly think that considering the preponderance of evidence against the FS (see my reply), the conclusion the Governorís office has reached is an outrage. 
 

From: "Van Huysen, Heidi" <Heidi.VanHuysen@state.co.us>
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 16:21:48 -0600
To: "Dan Wagman" <namgawdf@earthlink.net>
Subject: RE: Forest Service Update

Dan,
 
The conclusion we reached is that areas which you find to be improper road closures have never been designated public roads and thus the requirements you discussed as being necessary to close a USFS road are not required. Instead, the access points in dispute are provided only through a special use permit that were provided to the Colorado Springs Utility and the USFS has regulated those access points accordingly.  I understand you dispute this point but based on the information we have received, we are in agreement with the action taken by the USFS with regard to regulating these access points.
 
Respectfully,
Heidi Van Huysen
office: 303-866-3311 x8664
 

Dear Heidi,
 
Thank you for getting back to me. I appreciate your time and efforts.

Unfortunately the explanation offered by the Forest Service (FS), and the conclusion you reached, is not supported by fact or law. To reiterate, please recall that the main issue at hand is that the FS has illegally kept the public out of the decision making process as mandated by law. Now kindly consider the following facts and references to the law which highlight these errors.

Regarding FSR 371, the only road to which your e-mail would apply, where you should recall this is not the only issue at hand:

1. The 1984 Land and Resource Management Plan map clearly and unequivocally identifies the road in question as a public access road, as Forest System Road (FSR) 371. (Of note, new Land Management Plan Revisions that may have changed this map have been halted as of June 30, 2009 by the 9th District Court due to, you guessed it, FS NEPA violations.) Moreover, of the 32 Amendments to this map, none of them address this road as being mislabeled or falsely identified. This is an important consideration as the FS has claimed in the past, and perhaps to the Governorís office too, that this map is wrong.

2. All signs on the road, to this date, identify this road as FSR 371.

3. All writings by the FS refer to this road as FSR 371.

4. Now consider that EVEN IF THIS ROAD WAS NOT A FSR, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures, which mandate public involvement, still apply. 36 CFR 220.4.a indicates that NEPA processes apply and must be followed if:

A. The Forest Service has a goal and is actively preparing to make a decision on one or more alternative means of accomplishing that goal and the effects can be meaningfully evaluated;
B. The proposed action is subject to Forest Service control and responsibility;
C. The proposed action would cause effects on the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment;
D. The proposed action is not statutorily exempt from the requirements of this section. [The action of closing FSR 371 is not categorically excluded under FSH 1909.15.31, 36 CFR 220.6 et seq., and 7 CFR part 1.b.3.]

5. In addition, and irrespective of whether FSR 371 is or is not a FSR, in many writings, most recently on July 2, 2008, the FS has claimed the closure of this road is due to the protection of a Forester Sensitive Species. This in and of itself triggers NEPA and therefore public involvement. I refer you to 36 CFR 220.6.b.1

6. In a writing dated September 21, 2001 the FS acknowledges that NEPA procedures need to be followed.

All of the above apply and thus the FSís explanation to the Governor is completely false, without any foundation in law, and hence your conclusion flawed. Moreover, the issue of a Special Use Permit is irrelevant as the area of said permit is under FS control and as per 36 CFR 213.3 does not preclude the application of all other applicable laws such as NEPA.  In addition to which, the permit clearly and unequivocally states that the permit holder may NOT keep the public from accessing the permit area.

Please consider that what you mention in your note does not address the issue of FSR 322A and the Order that expired on April 29, 2009 governing the South Platte Ranger District of the Pike National Forest. As you hopefully recall from our phone conversation, you were to ascertain by what legal authority the FS keeps this beautiful area from the public. What did you learn in that regard? If the FS simply extended this Order, they extended an Order that was illegally obtained (the law requires a minimum of 30-day public notice, Coloradans received 2 wks; appeal rights were denied based on a nonexistent law). In addition, this Order calls with specificity for ďtemporary closure of roads and trails,Ē that by law are not to exceed one year (36 CFR 220.6.d.8; 36 CFR 220.6.e.8.), yet this road/area has been closed to the public for over four years.

Beyond addressing the above, the Governor ought to consider asking the FS to indicate, with specificity, based on what exemption under the law, applying NEPA (36 CFR 220 et seq.) does not apply to the closure of FSR 371, under what legal authority they extended the illegally obtained Order governing the temporary closure of roads in the South Platte Ranger District, and under what legal authority they have kept FSR 322A closed for over four years (an Action that would require the application of NEPA procedures).

Iím afraid that this issue has not been properly resolved and we collectively ask that the Governorís office hold the FS accountable to the law and has the Agency reopen these roads until such time that it has attained the legal authority to close it.

We are looking forward to hearing back from the Governor. This issue presents him with an absolutely wonderful opportunity to work at the grassroots level and right what is clearly wrong on behalf of Coloradoís citizens. With that said, what can we expect the Governorís next steps to be and what sort of time-frame may we anticipate the execution of these steps?

Dan

P.S. Please note that our communications are being considered public record and are being shared with thousands of interested and affected citizens and all local media outlets via e-mail and Forums.

--
Dan Wagman, PhD, CSCS

Patriotism is supporting your country all of the time,
and your government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2009, 08:59:21 am »

Since UFWDA and its Colorado "affiliate" has shown anything but leadership and support in this issue, this will be the last posting in this regard.

----

I am very grateful for those who showed up for the meeting with Lamborn. Indeed, all of you should be grateful because these guys and gals stepped up to the plate. In reality, this is NOT about 4-wheeling and the FS closing roads, itís about an agency in our government contravening the laws of the land. And that incenses me, as I believe it should every American, whether he accesses the national forest or not. Of the nearly 2,000 individuals that have expressed an interest in this matter, sadly, only about 10 showed up and gave their country 60 minutes to fight for that which is right. You know what they say; you get the government you deserve.

On that note, all local media had been informed about this meeting, too, and here the turnout was even worse Ė 0. I suppose to them having a federal agency breaking the law doesnít rank very high. Iím wondering if they understand what journalism means and what responsibility comes in a nation that believes in freedom of the press.

The way the thing went is that I presented Lamborn with the facts. Basically, I read through this, which was also sent to Governor Ritter:

http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/worksheet_lamborn_ritter.pdf

You can see that itís very matter of fact; this is what the FS claims, this is what the law states, this is what the FS needs to explain. Plain and simple. And where you see FS Requirement, the way I put it to Lamborn is to ask him, if HE, for US, would step up and get the FS to address each point with specificity. He agreed to do so via a letter and personal call.

After I was done with my presentation the meeting went to Lamborn and the other citizens. In short, Lamborn explained that thereís only so much he can do. He gave an example of how the District of Columbia is seeking to violate the Constitution by gaining representation in Congress (only states can have representation; DC isnít a state). Then he illustrated to everyone what heís already done for us in this particular matter. He went through his folder and told everybody the dates of the letters that he wrote to the FS and the hearing that he asked for from the Committee on Natural Resources (a committee he sits on). It came across to me as if he wanted to make sure that people knew that he was doing something. Sadly, he couldnít attach any form of resolution to his efforts. THAT, to me, is what itís about. TRYING to get a touchdown, but not making it, doesnít score any points.

Then several of the other attendees chimed in and raised some good points regarding their views on the topic and illustrated to Lamborn why they believed this to be an important issue. Heís a likeable guy, he was attentive, took notes, etc., but at the same time I got the feeling that he also set us up for not expecting too much from his end Ė that thereís only so much he can do. He did state that the next step for us might have to be litigation. I canít help but wonder that if he canít bring positive resolution to something so cut and dry, whatís his purpose other than pushing a Yea/Nea button in Congress.

Next stop Ė RitterÖ
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Peter Vahry
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2009, 05:43:10 am »

Dan, thank you for your postings from Colorado. You do have interest from UFWDA but you appear to have the process well in hand. If there is specific support from UFWDA that you would like, please identify it.

The work that you are doing is great and is obviously being frustrated by the Governer's office. I have on several occasions looked to include your proposed meeting plans in one of the monthly UFWDA e-News, but the way things have gone, we would be simply advising retractions!

Keep battling and tell us what we can do to help.
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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2009, 10:19:20 am »

Dan

I have followed this thread since you started it.

In your first posting, you asked for help, but did not state what kind of help you needed.
You seem to have a pretty good handle on the situation, and I thank you for your updates here.

I would ask that you keep informing us of what happens with this issue.

Thanks

Todd
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2009, 11:09:23 am »

I made it clear that we needed people to show up at the meeting. That was the minimum and any other help that the organization may have been able to provide would've been appreciated. There was no representation by UFWDA, the CO affiliate, etc. Pretty sad.
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