From the July 1998 Idaho Observer:

USFS Violates U.S. Code in North Idaho Road Closure

Dominant media misses story (again) (still)

by Don Harkins

BONNERS FERRY_The lead in a Spokesman Review article by Staff Writer Ken Olsen regarding citizen protest of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) closure of historic and arguably private Boundary Creek Road reported that, "The discovery of three plainclothes Forest Service cops_one of them operating a video camera_threatened to turn a road rally into an anti-government riot near the Canadian border Saturday."

According to Boundary County Commissioner Kevin Lederhos, "the forest service promised that there would be no uniformed forest service personnel here today."

Although the USFS agents were not wearing forest service green, they stated that they were attending the event in their official capacity and were wearing badges (hidden from view). The three men were carrying sidearms and were wearing kevlar vests.

So USFS lied to the Boundary County Commission. According to the evasive responses made by USFS LAW ENFORCEMENT Special Agent Gordon Greg, it is likely that the USFS even lied to Boundary County Sheriff Greg Sprundle about its pre-planned presence at the event. However, federal employees lying to the American public is not even news anymore much less the appropriate lead for this story.

The appropriate lead for this story is: Since 1994 when Boundary County first made its RS 2477 Roads proclamation, it has provided USFS with several maps which prove that Boundary Creek Road predates the 1906 creation of the USFS and therefore, under federal law, is in the jurisdiction of the county. Boundary County Commissioner Kevin Lederhos, who ran for county commissioner specifically to fight issues such as this, said that it does not matter what evidence is provided to the federal government, there is no appeal process and if the USFS wants the gate kept closed, the gate stays closed.

The USFS ostensibly closed the road in 1994 for public safety as lack of maintenance had deteriorated the stability of the 28-mile road in a several places. Militant environmentalists from Idaho Earth First! were the first people to arrive at the gate and maintained, contrary to USFS documents, that the road was closed to protect grizzly bear habitat and bull trout habitat.

The Spokesman Review article, headlined "Road rage at rally," apparently intended to inform the reading public that the 125 (not 100 as reported in the article) citizens who felt that the federal government's lockup of county (private?) lands, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Code, the Idaho Constitution and Idaho Code, is more important than Saturday morning television, were nothing more than a bunch of paranoid right-wing, anti-government radicals. The article failed to mention that the Boundary County Commission and several private citizens had spent four years and thousands of dollars attempting to prove its case, with air-tight documentation, to an agenda-driven federal government. No matter what evidence Boundary County submits to the USFS, the forest service refuses to recognize the Boundary Creek Road as a county right of way that is protected under federal law.

In 1866, the United States government adopted 43 USC 932, also known as RS 2477 Roads, which gave counties the right of jurisdiction over said roads for the purpose of mineral exploration and removal and the harvest of forest products such as lumber. Maps show that the road was built prior to the turn of the century by A.K. Clockman, owner of the Continental lead and silver mines, so that the minerals could be "removed."

The road had been maintained by private interests since it had been built prior to the turn of the century. It is only after the USFS took over control of the road that it has fallen into disrepair. The forest service claims to have spent $1 million to repair the road. If that is true then the money must have been improperly spent because there is no evidence that it was used to repair the road.

"We could have come in here this morning, brushed this road out, cleared out the ditches and had this road open to the public by dinner time," said Continental Mine stockholder Gary Regeher who has spent his entire life on Boundary Creek Road.

Regeher recently received word from the USFS that he no longer has access to his private property through Boundary Creek Road even though evidence indicates that the road itself belongs to the mine's owners.

The Boundary County Commission declared the road to be a public right of way June 9 and, with the help of private citizens and their equipment, was prepared to bypass the USFS gate one way or another. The federal government's response was to file an injunction and a restraining order in the court of Judge Edward Lodge June 12 which, at least temporarily, postponed the county's plans to bypass the federal gate.

Lederhos is motivated to win this battle in court to set a precedent that will cure the epidemic of federal road closures.

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