Building the Wildlands Project

By Don Amador 
posted 4/15/02 - from

I know a lot of 4x4 enthusiasts and other access interests have been watching the battle for access in the King Range National Conservation Area. The lawsuit filed by a number of groups including Cal 4WD Assn, BRC, Friends of the Beach, et al, is in progress, but the Black Sands Beach is still closed. Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal on Feb. 13, 2002. Under the present time schedule order, the opening appeal brief and excerpts of record are due on June 3, 2002.

Some of you may remember that investigative reporter, Barry Clausen, has done extensive research in what some have claimed is a green/fed cabal in the King Range area. An article that was written about this by Tom DeWeese, in Range Magazine .

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel the Smith-Etter Road all the way to the beach with a member of the Etter family who took me to their cabin in an area some call Spanish Flat 2. From her cabin in the heart of the King Range I took a picture of the cut-bank where the BLM ripped a section of the road that at one time existed from the Mattole River for 28 miles down to Shelter Cove.

This is the section of road where Charlotte Hawks (a BLM land specialist who still works in the Arcata Resource Area) told a 78-year-old land owner/rancher that... "The government does recognize deeded right-of-way, but they deem what that right-of-way is, and if they deem you shall crawl on your knees then you shall crawl on your knees." This rather raw statement was made in front of Congressman Frank Riggs and then BLM state director Ed Hastey.

Look at the cut-bank in the center of the photo and this is the road that the BLM specialist was referring to in the above statement. I have enclosed this because a lot of you have wanted to see just what road she was referring to. It looks like the BLM had already decided that Mr. Hadley could crawl.

The SF ABC radio affiliates KSFO and KGO (including Dr. Bill Wattenburg, Barbara Simpson, and Brian Wilson) has talked about the King Range for a couple of years. I believe it is still an important battle as the greens and feds are working on a "Refuge from the Sea" Wildlands Project type effort to acquire private property all the way from the King Range to the Headwaters Forest near Fortuna. Local ranching interests are fighting this concept as it first seeks to bankrupt the ranchers to make them willing sellers.

One side note from my recent trip is that I learned that there is a naturally refined crude oil reserve in that area and in fact, in the early part of this century the "naturally refined" crude was so light that it could be burned straight from the ground in a Model A or T.

Thanks for your continued interest in coastal access for multiple-use. I encourage you to read or re-read the Deweese/Clausen article.

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