To the Editor:
In the summer of 2003, my wife (Kay) and I were kicked off the Coronado National Forest. If you are wondering what terrible offense we had committed to warrant such action, let me explain. We had camped for more than 14 days in a 60-day period on our very own public land. That's it!
No Westerner thinks of our national forests as U.S. Forest Service lands. They are public domains. Now I am smart enough to know that our public lands need to be administered by an agency and that agency must represent all of our citizens, not just special interests. Historically, there were plenty examples of abuse that showed a need for a protection agency; but please, let's not protect so zealously that we lose sight of practical sense.
I have thought long and hard on the Forest Service rules that got us ejected from an empty public campground (one that had been empty for many days). I came to the following conclusion.
In a democracy, bureaucracies are set up to serve the people. When they become so involved internally that they no longer do that, and only serve themselves, they are worse than useless. When their rules have no purpose other than making their jobs easier or more secure, they can be more harmful than helpful to the society they were meant to serve.
With these types of problems coming from the Forest Service, would I trade that agency for Sheriff Glenn Palmer's new rule book? He said, "It is the sheriff who has the duty and authority of upholding the Constitution as well as carrying out enforcement of our laws and determining if they're constitutional or not."
In a pig's eye! He is offering a solution that, in my opinion, is worse than the problem. I cannot help wonder if the sheriff is using recent seemingly oppressive administrative policies of the USFS to push what I would call over-reaching authority of local sheriffs.
The United States Constitution writers worked tirelessly to bring states together and to maintain separation of powers. The terrible bloodbath that was our country's Civil War reaffirmed the union of our states. The current movement to empower local sheriffs, with both enforcement and interpretation of the laws of the U.S .Constitution is a seriously flawed assault on the idea that is the United States of America.
The problems with the United States Forest Service are fixable by legislative and executive authority. The problems with Sheriff Palmer's plans are mind-boggling. It has the potential to turn our great nation into hundreds, if not thousands of little sheriffdoms - completely fragmenting our one, united nation.