From the September 1998 Idaho Observer:

For the record:

Spokesman Review Staff Writer Kevin Keating, who has become notoriously antagonistic among citizens who believe in the Constitution(s), property rights and limited government, wrote a story headlined, "Judge orders miners off of Boundary Creek Road," that appeared in what some people are beginning to refer to as the Socialist Review August 18, 1998.

For the record, The Idaho Observer would like to correct the inaccuracies of Keating's apparently "pro- government" article.

"The mine owners have been observed driving trucks and all-terrain vehicles behind locked gates on national forest land," the article states.

Aside from the all terrain vehicles that nobody seems to know anything about unless Keating was referring to motorcycles, roads are made for vehicular traffic. The Boundary Creek Road, which has been used by the public for over 100 years, has always been considered an easement through national (public) forest land until the federal government decided to close the road to the public and did so without any form of a public hearing.

The Keating article quoted the government as stating, "They have also removed Forest Service locks and repaired portions of the road without a proper permit, Forest Service officials said Monday."

Yes, the "miners (who are actually property owners who have shares in a mine that is currently inactive)" have removed the federal government's locks because they were changed when the shareholders were denied access to their property by the Forest Service July 27. The USFS changed the locks on the gate after the property owners refused to sign a conditional use permit that would allow the government to dictate when the men could and could not visit their own property. As for having the audacity to begin repairing the road "without a proper permit" the shareholders and a crew set out to debunk one of the absurd claims made by the Forest Service that maintenance of the road is too costly. The mine owners have stated that they will maintain the road themselves at no cost to the federal government.

Interestingly, there is a Supreme Court decision which states that if federal money is used in a project, the federal government has controlling authority over the project. The USFS no doubt rationalizes its authority to completely deny public access to this area based upon the fact that it was a member of an association that has pooled resources with other entities to maintain the road since the 1960s.

"'We cannot allow people to cut off locks, drive in restricted areas and do unauthorized road repairs,' said Bonners Ferry District Ranger Elaine Zieroth."

If Keating was disposed toward being sympathetic to property owners in America, he would have at least allowed the "miners" to have their side of the argument, which is supported by the Boundary County Commission, reported in the article. If Keating had any clue that what is really at stake here is the ability of the federal government lock the American public out of its own, resource-laden national forests, he would have reported the dire implications of Zieroth's statement.

Zieroth used the term "restricted areas" which indicates that the federal government has no intentions whatsoever of allowing public access to the area and supports the argument that the purpose of this exercise in potentially precedent-setting federal authority is to "obliterate" Boundary Creek Road as a strategic mechanism to control (eliminate) public access to 180,000 acres of public land. Her use of the term, "unauthorized road repairs" indicates that the Forest Service has no intentions of repairing the road which it closed, according to USFS RS 2477 Roads expert Dave O'Brien, out of "concern for public safety."

Keating's article is absolutely incorrect when he reports that "County officials claim the road...should be open to the public and maintained by the Forest Service."

The truth is that the county and the private property owners of Boundary County are so frustrated and so disgusted by the Orwellian doublespeak of the Forest Service and its wholly unconstitutional, Gestapo-like tactics that if the federal agency left the county all-together never to return, a lot of people would be very happy.

Keating also reports that, "the Forest Service intends to obliterate five miles of the road," "which leads into grizzly bear and endangered caribou habitat," "because of regular landslides and huge repair costs."

If the mine's shareholders are willing to foot the bill for the entire cost of maintaining the road, the real costs of which are considerably less than the USFS claims, then the above statement is absurd and we return to the true intentions of the federal government's insistence upon "restricting" public access to Boundary Creek Road: To lock the public out of the area.

Keating mistakenly refers to the mine as "defunct" and that the property in questions as "300 acres."

The truth is that the mine is not defunct, it is just not being worked at this time and the amount of property that the shareholders pay taxes on but are not being allowed access to is 360 acres.

"The miners need a permit to be behind the locked gate with motorized vehicles. They have refused to apply for a permit..." Keating reported.

Who says the "miners" need a USFS permit to have access to their own property? The truth is that the "miners" have refused to sign an unacceptable "conditional use permit" that was drafted by the Forest Service that would "allow" the mine owners access to their property 12 times per year at specifically designated times only.

Keating, not just in this article but consistently in countless articles before this one, has obviously taken the side of the government on issues where our inalienable rights to life, liberty and happiness are being challenged. It is a shameful disservice to the Spokesman Review's readership that the valid arguments being made by CPI and the Boundary County commissioners, which are being ignored by the federal government, are not at least reported by the dominant media.

Keating's article is an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of the decent, principled, hardworking, taxpaying owners of the Continental Mine who are being described as criminals in a conspiracy to defy the dictates of the federal government when all that they really are is a group of men who are standing up for their rights to have access to the American soil that they own--legally.

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