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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 7380 times)
Todd Ockert
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« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2009, 03:46:17 pm »

Dan

We have members in Colorado, but no BOD members.
I would have been willing to take time off from work if someone could have paid my way.
I did not post that request, as I did not think someone would be willing to pay my way there and back.

I would have loved to attend the meeting, but again, my finances would not allow it.

I can not say for the Colorado association, but a phone call to them might help.
They have a few members on here, but not sure how many.

Impacts as this are important to us, and the wheelers that we represent across the globe.

You seem to have a good handle on the issues here.
What was done to garner support for the meeting in the state?
Was there any posts on the local forums asking for people to show up?
I am on Pirate4x4 all the time, and do not remember of any posts on this issue.

Thanks

Todd
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2009, 04:43:12 pm »

Todd...

Quote
You seem to have a good handle on the issues here.

If I would've had that good of a handle on things, then I wouldn't have asked for help. The sad truth of the matter is that the law is being blatantly violated and nobody seems to care.

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What was done to garner support for the meeting in the state?

Contacting all local organizations and media.

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Was there any posts on the local forums asking for people to show up?

Absolutely. A total of 5 different Forums.

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I am on Pirate4x4 all the time, and do not remember of any posts on this issue.

Absolutely on Pirate, too.
 
It might not be too late. What can you do to have someone at UFWDA write Lamborn and Gov. Ritter in an effort that this goes beyond just Colorado?
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Todd Ockert
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« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2009, 10:34:23 am »

Dan

I will go back through these posts and pick out some talking points and write to Lamborn and Gov Ritter.

Are their email addresses listed in the thread or an address for them?

Thanks

Todd
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2009, 11:12:36 am »

Dan

I will go back through these posts and pick out some talking points and write to Lamborn and Gov Ritter.

Are their email addresses listed in the thread or an address for them?

Thanks

Todd

Todd, that would be great. The main points that absolutely need to be addressed, points that are entirely unemotional and only a representation of the law, can be found here: http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/worksheet_lamborn_ritter.pdf

To contact Congressman Lamborn, visit his website here: http://lamborn.house.gov/index.html

To contact Governor Ritter, visit his website here: http://www.colorado.gov/governor

Of course getting on the USFS about this might be helpful, too. But I'm afraid that they dug in their heels and won't be compelled to adhere to the law unless a Congressman, Governor, or Judge makes them.
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Keith Holman
Middle Atlantic Four Wheel Drive Association
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2009, 09:42:48 am »

This information has been reported to Senators Mikulski and Cardin of Maryland as well.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2009, 05:43:20 pm »

UPDATE

OK, thereís something pretty humorous here, but letís get to the serious part first.

I havenít been in contact because unfortunately there hasnít been much to share with you. In other words, I havenít heard anything from Congressman Lamborn nor the Governorís office. Iím giving Lamborn more time because history shows that he does follow through with what he promises, in this case a letter requesting more detail from the FS. But 6 wks since our meeting with him have passed...

Regarding Ritter, however, as you hopefully recall, this matter was passed on to the Dept. of Natural Resources. The point of contact, Heidi, moved on to a different job so Iíve been trying to get a hold of Mike King, whoís actually the ďsecond in commandĒ over there. Heís outright ignored all of my calls and e-mails. Today I got a hold of him on his cell. He was dismissive, bordering on rude, and could not tell me anything about anything - literally. He suggested I talk to the Governorís Ombudsmenís office instead. What a jerk. But heís got a nice smile (http://dnr.state.co.us/Leadership/Deputy+Director/Deputy+Director.htm). Two calls to his boss, DNR Executive Dir. Harris Sherman have yielded no return calls (http://dnr.state.co.us/Leadership/Executive+Director/). I called again today and left a message...

I called the Ombudsmenís office and they provided me with one of Ritterís attorneyís contact info. Placed the call and left a message today. Also, today, I finally broke down and contacted several CO-based attorneys. Meetings next week...

Now hereís something pretty funny. I submitted a FOIA and the FS reply was ďno records.Ē I appealed that in DC and got a letter back from the Deputy Director of the FS. In his writing he confirmed that NEPA needs to be followed in closing this road. But he claims that itís not a Forest Service Road and includes a map (this is FSR371, Emerald Valley). And guess what, the map identifies this road as FSR 371. How is it that people with such lack of attention to detail can hold down a job?Huh

Will have more as it becomes available... 
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Peter Vahry
UFWDA International Vice-President
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« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2009, 07:39:14 pm »

Thanks Dan, well done with the persistence. Are there any specific people that a flurry of public letters might improve the awareness levels of ... someone like Mike King perhaps? A UFWDA e-News will be going out next week.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2009, 05:26:24 pm »

No, Peter, I don't think that any letters would be of any help at this point. Mike King made it clear that he's not interested in this nor that he wants to pursue it.

The latest is that I've spoken to several attorneys about this and that I'm asking the ACLU-CO for help on this. Also, I sent everything again to Gov. Ritter in the form of a request to meet in person (not just me but up to 15 other citizens). We'll see where it goes. I'm also going to talk to the Blue Ribbon Coalition for legal assistance and perhaps you can have Carla contact me to pursue this. From what I understand, due to the fact that in this locale the FS has shown a pattern of illegal road closure, this appears to be a fairly strong case.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2009, 05:03:00 pm »

Hello All,

The main purpose for all of us to meet with Congressman Lamborn was two-fold: 1. To illustrate how many citizens are concerned about illegal FS road closures, 2. To provide him with a worksheet to pass on to the FS in an attempt to get specific answers to the claims the FS has made and to have the FS provide specific references to the law that might allow for their actions, thereby rendering them not illegal.

Last week I received an answer from the FS regarding Lambornís writing. In a nutshell, the FS evaded answering the points with specificity and actually highlighted yet another violation of federal law. You see, they claim now, among other things, that theyíre using the 2009 Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) as their guide. Federal law, however, mandates Public Involvement in this process, which they did not observe. When does it ever end? A Freedom of Information Act request went out today requesting all documentation regarding the MVUM.

You may find the Worksheet that Lamborn requested the FS to address here:

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

You may find the FSís answer at the following link. Please note that I added comments to most paragraphs, which on the surface actually sound good; simply scroll your cursor over the note symbol:

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

Regarding Governor Ritter, I have established contact with two of his policy attorneys. That followed a rejection from his scheduling office in which I requested a citizens meeting  with him. If I donít hear back this week, I shall call them again next week.

Finally, talks with several independent law firms has established that indeed the FS has violated federal law in closing these roads to the public. I am now awaiting feedback on which legal options we might have, how much it might cost, etc.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2009, 05:20:00 pm »

As many of you probably know, the South Rampart Travel Management Plan is underway. It's VERY important for you to get involved in this by submitting your SUBSTANTIVE comments to the Forest Service (FS).

Why is this important and why did I CAP substantive?

It's important because unless you comment you have no appeal rights once they proceed with it. However, once you speak your mind, then you have appeal rights if you don't like what they've done. And best of all, appealing a decision costs you nothing but a stamp. And yes, appeals get reviewed independently and FS decisions have been overturned via this process.

Why did I cap substantive? Because unless you provide a substantive comment the FS will ignore and reject your comment. That said, a statement such as, "I think you should keep this road open because it's beautiful" isn't substantive. Here's how the law defines a substantive comment:

36 CFR 215.2 SUBSTANTIVE COMMENTS ó Comments that are within the scope of the proposed action, are specific to the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action and include supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider.

With that said, please allow me to provide you with what I have sent the FS. I encourage you to review what the FS has done so far and to provide your own comments (http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/psicc/projects). And if you like, use mine as a template of sorts, but do get involved...

EDAW/AECOM
Attn: South Rampart
TMP/EA
240 E. Mountain Ave.
Fort Collins, CO 80524

RE: Substantive Comment as per 36 CFR 215.2 regarding the South Rampart Travel Management Plan; submitted via USPS and e-mail (comment@southrampart.net)

To Whom It May Concern:

There are two errors on the 2008 and 2009 MVUM that must be corrected for the final Travel Management Plan and subsequent MVUM.

FSR 322A
This road appears on the 1984 LRMP map and the 1992 Pike National Forest map but has been omitted from the 2008 and 2009 MVUM. In addition, this road has been closed for five years, despite the fact that its closure must be temporary (defined as up to one year, 36 CFR 220 et seq.) based on the Decision Memo For Temporary Closures of Roads and Trails for Resource Protection and Public Safety. This Order expired 4/29/09 and since this road remains closed to the public, that is in violation of the Order. Moreover, omitting this road from the MVUM has not followed the processes prescribed in 36 CFR 212 et seq. and 36 CFR 220 et seq. Therefore, this road must not only be reopened to the public but must also appear on the MVUM resulting from the South Rampart TMP.
 
FSR 371
This road appears accurately and in its entirety on the 1984 Land Resource Management Plan (LRMP) map, has been omitted from the 1992 Pike National Forest map past the intersection with Emerald Valley Ranch as it heads due west, and appears again on the 2008 and 2009 MVUM, though only for approximately half of its length as it heads due west from the intersection with Emerald Valley Ranch (presumably stopping where it has been gated). As it relates to the TMP and the associated MVUM, since this road is a Forest System road, has been identified as such on the 1984 LRMP, and no amendments to the 1984 LRMP indicate otherwise, this road must be represented in its entirety as indicated on the 1984 LRMP map.
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #25 on: November 08, 2009, 03:16:17 pm »

So I went wheeling up Rampart Range on Saturday. I think this is pretty funny...

I drive by the gate for 322A (one if the illegally closed roads) and somebody took a blow torch to it and cut the top off, which is still hanging there, but the rest of the gate is gone. So the FS bolted one of those steel highway dividers or what you see on the cliff side of a mountain pass to two uprights instead. Looked like 1" nuts and bolts to me.

Beyond being funny to me, I can't help but think how Jeffersonian it was to do this. The FS is clearly violating the law in keeping this road closed to the citizens; in the words of our 3rd President, "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing." 
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #26 on: November 17, 2009, 06:39:33 pm »

Earlier today I got off the phone with Jim Manley, an attorney for Mountain States Legal Foundation. These guys essentially do pro bono work as it relates to public access to public lands. This case is something theyíre interested in, but...

The long and short of it is that since the Forest Service (FS) is now undergoing new Travel Management Plan (TMP) activities, fighting the closures at this point in time seems sort of a mute point. He very strongly recommended that all interested parties comment regarding FSR 371, FSR 322A, and any other areas that are of concern to you. This, he stated, would provide every person or organization who commented with legal standing, meaning that we can appeal whatever decision the FS makes. He also indicated that he wanted me to keep him abreast of the developments because if it ever comes to an appeal, he and his firm would be interested in looking deeper into this matter and perhaps helping us with the appeal(s), litigation, etc.

So, I refer you back a few messages of mine ago where I shared with you the address to which to send/e-mail your comment(s), along with my comments and an explanation of what a substantive comment must entail. You ought to use that as your guide. Now that the FS is developing a new TMP, letís see if we canít get our access back.

A few additional notes. The other attorney I spoke to would as a first step study all of the materials I gathered and would then propose a sit-down with the leadership at the FS to resolve this. He most definitely feels that they donít have any legal support for their actions. This could be effective, but would cost between 1-2K. In the end, Iím afraid that the FS would simply default to the TMP, and perhaps rightfully so, and 1-2K was essentially spend for nothing. So again, comments is the way to go, get involved in the process! Working through the appeals process costs nothing more than a stamp and at the end of that process, thereís still the option to sue the FS.

On the Governorís side of things, weíve been completely ignored. His two policy attorneys that Iíve been put in touch with do not return any of my e-mails or phone calls. Next year is an election year for  him and I will be sure to work on his retirement. If anyone is interested in helping out, let me know.

As far as Congressman Lamborn goes, I asked for another meeting in which several of us will ask him to tell us with specificity what heíll do to get our public roads back. The request went out 10/29 and to date I have not heard back. So earlier today I sent his scheduling person an e-mail. He should be aware that 2010 is an election year for him too.

As always, stay tuned...

 
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Dan Wagman
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« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2010, 04:39:33 pm »

Back in November, Lamborn sent a letter in which he rejected meeting with us. In this meeting he was to explain to his constituency what, exactly, he would do to compel the Forest Service to abide by federal law in closing public roads.

In this letter (http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/lamborn_11-19-09.pdf), among other things, he claims to have been in contact about this issue with three past Forest Service chiefs. I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the agency in order to ascertain the truth of that statement; hence the delay in my reply (http://www.bodyintellect.com/forest_service/lamborn_1-2010.pdf). It seems that his statement was a fabrication.

Suffice to say, Lamborn has proven to be an utterly worthless representative in this matter, which raises questions about his effectiveness in other, much more complex issues. I believe his retirement is in order and this work is being organized now. Let me know if you care to become involved.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 04:59:48 pm by Dan Wagman » Logged
Dan Wagman
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« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2010, 06:43:08 pm »

The Colorado Springs Independent is doing a story on this issue and Lamborn's incompetence on Friday. Apparently the writer has only been given limited space at this time, but it's a good start.
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Peter Vahry
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« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2010, 07:21:15 pm »

Dan, it will be very interesting to read what the newspaper makes of the situation.

Peter
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