From the September 1998 Idaho Observer:
Why is Boundary Creek Road So Important to Feds?
Judging from the shifting arguments and illogic being employed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) where Boundary Creek Road is concerned, a reasonable person may infer that it must be of vital strategic importance that the road be controlled by the federal government at any cost_even if that cost goes well beyond the face value of a remote, 27-mile road in the rugged country near the Canadian border.
Why is it so important that the federal government maintain control of Boundary Creek Road?
by Don Harkins
According to USFS RS 2477 Roads expert Dave O'Brien, the USFS has "granted" RS 2477 right-of-way status to several roads in Montana. He maintains that the USFS has "granted" RS 2477 status to those roads based upon evidence that they qualified as county roads under the USFS interpretation of federal law.
One of O'Brien's rationalizations that Boundary Creek Road must be managed (obliterated) under the authority of the federal government is that it has changed location and is not the same road that it was prior to the 1906 commission of the USFS_which is one of the interpretations of 1866 law that the USFS uses to qualify or disqualify roads under RS 2477.
In a recent phone conversation, it was stated to O'Brien that thousands of roads all across America have changed courses but are still the same roads in legal contemplation and still keep the same names because they begin and end in the same places. O'Brien's response was that, "There is case law on both sides of that issue."
It appears that O'Brien is biased in favor of interpreting case law to support the federal government's intention to control (obliterate) Boundary Creek Road rather than interpret case law to return jurisdiction of the road to the county. O'Brien seems like a very decent man and it appears that he has been commissioned to argue, illogically if necessary, in favor of federal control of what an impartial person would understand to be a county road.
The following scenarios have been constructed by several people who are intimately familiar with Boundary Creek Road, the adjacent lands and the federal government's unshakable insistence upon the obliteration of the road and, therefore, elimination of public access to the region. To many people who have been players in this battle over who has what rights to Boundary Creek Road, the USFS is so insistent that the federal government maintain authority of the road that it must serve some vitally important purpose that they are empowered to do so.
Following are overviews of some of the most likely reasons why the Forest Service must control access to public lands accessible by Boundary Creek Road:
1. The evidence is so overwhelmingly in favor of the road qualifying as an RS 2477 right-of-way under federal law that if the federal government can set the precedent of maintaining jurisdiction in this case, it will be able to close highways such as Interstate 90 as it passes through Coeur d Alene if it decides that it wants to close them.
2. There are tremendous mineral resources including gold and silver in the area. If the federal government can control (eliminate) public access to public lands then the federal government will have control of the land's resources.
3. There are people prepared to sign affidavits that they have been accosted by heavily armed individuals dressed in camouflage fatigues and have seen surveillance cameras in the area. Others will attest to the likelihood that there has been motion-sensitive equipment attached to bridges in the area and that government agents happen to appear quickly in government vehicles to investigate civilians who happen to be in the area. There is evidence to suggest that there is covert military activity in the area. The people who know the area well have indicated that from atop Continental Mountain, you can see all of the way to Priest Lake and well into Canada and that the mountain would be a very strategic vantage point.
4. All of the above could be true and would justify, in the collective mind of an out-of-control federal government, the "obliteration" of the first five miles of Boundary Creek Road and the placement of one gate at Smith Creek Road for the purpose of eliminating public access to the entire, 180,000-acre area.
O'Brien was asked if there was any truth to the scenarios described above and he categorically denied having any knowledge that would give credence to any of them.
Nobody except naive lay environmentalists and the dominant media believe that the federal government is willing to "obliterate" Boundary Creek Road and control (eliminate) public access to the area to insure public safety, protect the habitat of "endangered" grizzly bears, "endangered" bull trout or "endangered" caribou. Only a few people still believe that the Endangered Species Act was intended to protect endangered species and still believe that the federal government never lies. Therefore, the theory that species protection and public safety are the reasons necessitating the "obliteration" of Boundary Creek Road was not listed in this article as a possible scenario to explain the Forest Service's actions in this matter.
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