STRANGE EQUALITY - Eco-elitists
save private playgrounds in California
Those who have read George Orwell’s classic book, “Animal Farm”
will be familiar with the phrase “everyone is equal but some are more
equal than others.” The line was used by the ruling pigs in the story
to justify why they were giving themselves special privileges over the
other animals. It was necessary, you see, that the leaders have the
best, the better to deal with the pressing issues of State.
Citizens of communist countries (the political and economic force
Orwell sought to parody) fully understand the reality of the phrase.
They well know how communist leaders grow rich, take the best homes and
ride in chauffeured limousines. Meanwhile, their “equal” fellow
citizens shiver on cold winter nights, lacking fuel for the stove, their
cupboards bare as a result of corrupt government control over the
Americans, too, are learning of the injustice that can result from
government agents having far too much power. In rural areas, many
homeowners have been fighting a losing battle to hang on to their
personal piece of the American dream. There, government agents wage a
war of attrition to wear them down and force them off property that
often has been in the family for generations. Agents close off access
roads; they determine that simple home repairs are actually new illegal
development; and they join with powerful, rich private-interest groups
to ensure that elected government representatives create the needed
regulations to increase the intimidation.
It’s all necessary, you see, because such lands must be saved from the
ravages of the predators called homeowners–for the sake of protecting
If one looks a little closer, one might just find that new human
predators have moved in to occupy the now-liberated land. They are
environmentalists, happily homesteading on once-private property. After
being liberated by government goons, the property is supposed to be
off-limits to development or private use. But those with power are free
to break the rules. Who would enforce them?
So elitist environmental warriors can be found arm in arm with the
federal storm troopers, deep in the wood, out of sight of the prying
eyes of the public. Deeds to the land can now be placed in green hands.
Illegal development can be constructed. Roads can be accessed. And a
good time can be had by all. When powerful interest groups team up with
federal enforcers to protect the “common good,” mutual profit and
personal gain know no bounds.
Apparently, when the elite declare themselves protectors of the
environment, they really must be more equal than others. Don’t bother
rubbing your eyes if it appears that the environmentalists are beginning
to morph into little green pigs.
LAND MANAGEMENT FOR THE GOOD OF THE ENVIRONMENT
“We will be good neighbors. We will practice good science. We
will promote multiple use.”
–Former BLM Director Pat Shea
Linda Smith Franklin is a fifth generation native of Mattole Valley
in Humboldt County. The area is one of the most remote in California.
Typical of the pioneer stock that settled the West, the residents are
rugged, honest, and believe a man’s word is his bond.
Franklin’s father, the late Paul Smith, prospered in the area. In
1959, he held grazing leases at Big Flat in the King Range. In 1960,
with permission from the local office of the federal Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) Smith built a road from his ranch to his holdings on
the beach at Spanish Flat. For 22 years, Smith personally maintained the
road, receiving no financial assistance from the government.
Acquired with the 40 acres of land at Spanish Flat was an old one-room
log cabin. In 1961 Smith built an additional two-room cabin onto the
front of the existing one, and the family maintained the cabin for over
35 years. There, Franklin and her husband spent their honeymoon; there,
many a weary hiker spent a safe night. The doors were not locked.
In 1970, by an act of Congress, the area was designated as part of the
“King Range National Conservation Area.” Under the plan, Congress
charged the BLM with the task of writing and implementing a land
management plan. The plan was completed in 1974 and while it prohibited
new, private development on the lands of the designated conservation
area, it also clearly protected the private property rights of those
already living there. In addition, property owners would be allowed to
continue to use and maintain “habitable” cabins that existed prior
The trouble began when a new management plan was developed in 1990.
Local residents, including Linda Franklin, served on the BLM Core
Planning Team for the Management Plan. She traveled thousands of miles
attending regular monthly, then bi-monthly meetings to develop a plan
that would serve the needs of the majority of the public, as well as
protect private property rights. Compromises were made on both sides and
an agreement was reached and submitted to the BLM for inclusion in its
Management Plan. But when the BLM released its final plan, there was
literally no resemblance to the planning team’s document. Apparently,
the BLM had simply cast aside the Core Planning Team’s recommendations
and, instead, implemented one of its own.
The BLM’s new Management Plan severely diverged from the original Act
of Congress that established the King Range National Conservation Area.
The Act prohibited the use of condemnation proceedings or eminent domain
except for right-of-way. And the BLM was to purchase lands from
“willing” sellers only. But there was a major flaw in the original
Act because it failed to anticipate the BLM using coercive practices to
encourage “unwilling” sellers to change their minds. Another flaw
allowed the BLM to manage private as well as public lands. The original
purpose of that clause was to prevent the private development of
beach-front condos, casinos, or private resorts. It was not intended to
prevent landowners from building their own homes or repairing their
private roads. These two flaws now turned up in the new BLM Management
Plan of 1990. The war against land owners was on.
CLOSING THE DOOR ON THE KING RANGE
“The government does recognize deeded right-of-way, but they
deem what right-of-way is, and if they deem you shall crawl on your
knees then you shall crawl on your knees.”–Charlotte Hawks, land
acquisition specialist, BLM
Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, federal agencies involved
in land management began to take on a new mission–land acquisition.
Where once their job was to manage public property, the focus now turned
to expanding public domain over as much private land as possible. It
began in the most rural areas, and has only recently begun to spread to
more populated areas. The King Range National Conservation Area was one
of the first to fall victim to the federal land grab.
A telling example of the change in the BLM’s direction can be seen in
a series of letters to Paul Smith and later to Linda Smith Franklin,
dealing with the issue of the right-of-way for the access road to their
property. A letter from the BLM to Smith dated Nov. 10, 1960 states,
“You do not need a permit to use and repair the existing ranch access
roads over BLM lands in the King’s Peak area. There is no specific law
providing for such a permit or easement and no law or regulation
prohibiting the use and repair of BLM roads in the area for ranch
access, prospecting and mining purposes.”
Again in 1980, in response to another Smith inquiry pertaining to access
to the road, the BLM wrote, “In checking into this matter with the
Ukiah District, we find that your concerns over the use of the road have
been resolved, and a right-of-way issued.” Again, the BLM was working
with the property owners and acknowledging that there was no hindrance
in the use of the road.
Somewhere along the way, things changed. In a letter to Linda Smith
Franklin, dated Nov. 19, 1997, the BLM answered a similar inquiry,
saying, “The Bureau of Land Management has no record, documentation or
corporate knowledge of having issued a right-of-way to Paul Smith.”
Limiting or closing access roads into the conservation area has
apparently become a common practice by the BLM in an attempt to pressure
property owners to give up their land and become “willing” sellers.
There are many more incidences of such coercive practices.
ITEM: In 1989, Leonard Pietila, a property owner, planned to build a
private home on his land located in the King Range. In accordance with
the law and with proper procedure, Pietila applied for, and obtained, a
building permit from the Humboldt County Building Department. Lumber was
delivered to the property in preparation for the building. Without
warning, Pietila received a registered letter from the BLM indicating
that his property was being condemned for use not compatible with the
BLM area plan. By the time he received the notice, the BLM legal machine
had moved into full operational mode. There was literally nothing he
could do but wrangle with the BLM for a better price from the government
for the taking of his land. Pietila had become a “willing” seller.
Neighboring property owners looked upon the condemnation of Pietila’s
land with shock and a realization that the harsh BLM action was a
warning to the rest of them. They were now afraid to do anything to
their property that might prompt similar action. They were afraid to
repair an access road, or bring in a small tractor to bury water lines,
or make repairs on homes. All normal, daily actions could now be
construed to be “a violation of the management plan.”
ITEM: Prior to the passage of the King Range National Conservation Act,
Paul Smith purposely sold two 10-acre parcels of land for the primary
purpose of establishing a market value before the BLM took control of
the land. It was a defensive measure to protect his investment if land
values were affected adversely by BLM land management.
Before the Conservation Act was passed, the first parcel was sold to a
Mr. Moon who intended to build a cabin on the land. The Smiths even
built a pad for the house that Moon intended to build. But Moon was
blocked from building the cabin because he didn’t complete it before
the Act went into effect. As a result, the property had literally no
value. He was forced to sell it to the BLM. Was Moon a “willing”
seller, or was his land held hostage until he agreed to sell it to the
ITEM: The second Smith parcel was sold to the Goss family. Again they
intended to build a cabin, and again they were blocked because nothing
could be built after 1970. Goss has resisted selling the property to the
BLM. He has tried to find something, anything, that can be done with the
land in order to recover his investment. But there is simply nothing
Goss can do with the 10 acres that is not in violation of the BLM
management plan. He has been denied normal economic appreciation of the
property due to the management plan. Because of that plan, Goss has no
choice but to sell it to the BLM. Does that make Goss a “willing”
ITEM: Leland Hadley is 78 years old. At one time he owned all of a
section called Big Flat. The BLM had prevented him from building a
structure on his land. New BLM proposals will cut off his access road.
That would require him to walk through terrain consisting of a quarter
mile on a steep incline, about three miles of sand and a half mile over
a dry stream bed. How long will it take Leland Hadley, lifelong resident
of the King Range, to become a “willing” seller?
There are only about six of the original owners left in the King Range.
One by one the BLM is picking them off. When the last one goes, access
to the entire area will be blocked off, and private property will cease
to exist. It will all be through “voluntary” means, of course. Nice
and legal. The record will show they were all “willing sellers.”
Through government edict, people will cease to exist on the King Range.
WHO SLAMMED THE DOOR?
TAKE A LOOK AT THE WILDLANDS PROJECT
“The project calls on the establishment of core wilderness areas
where human activity is prohibited, linked with biological
The answer may be traced to an all-encompassing land management
environmental program called “The Wildlands Project.” In 1992, the
radical environmental journal, Wild Earth, published by Earth First!,
produced a special issue announcing what it called “The Wildlands
Project, Plotting A North American Wilderness Recovery Strategy.”
This radical plan calls for the “rewilding” of at least 50 percent
of all the land in every state in the nation. In the introduction to the
plan, author Dave Foreman writes, “(T)he idea is simple. To stem the
disappearance of wildlife and wilderness we must allow the recovery of
whole ecosystems and landscapes in every region of North America.
Allowing these systems to recover requires a long-term master plan.”
Foreman intended for the “Wildlands Project” to be that master plan.
The project mapped out eco-regions and biosphere reserves that
intermingled. It didn’t matter if private homes and farms or even
whole towns were caught in the middle. The project called for
redistributing people, homes and towns out of the predetermined
biosphere reserves. The “Wildlands Project” also ignored community,
state and national boundaries. Foreman wrote, “We live to see the day
when grizzlies in [Mexico] have an unbroken connection to grizzlies in
Alaska; when the gray wolf populations are continuous from New Mexico to
Greenland; when vast unbroken forests and flowing plains again thrive
and support pre-Columbian populations of plants and animals....”
The “Wildlands Project” was co-developed by Foreman and Dr. Reed
Noss. Noss works with the Department of the Interior developing federal
ecosystem management policies. With such a force as Interior Secretary
Bruce Babbitt on the inside of the federal policymaking structure, it
didn’t take long for major aspects of the “Wildlands Project” to
be found in federal land management policy. In fact, a host of Clinton
appointees, now in a position to create policy, came from the ranks of
the environmental movement. Babbitt himself, was the former head of the
League of Conservation Voters. In addition, there was George Frampton,
former head of the Wilderness Society; Raft Pomerance, former policy
analyst for the World Resources Institute; Brooks Yeager, former vice
president of the National Audubon Society; Thomas Lovejoy, science
advisor to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and former officer of the
World Wildlife Fund; Jessica Truchman Mathews, former vice president of
the World Resources Institute; David Gardiner, former legislative
director for the Sierra Club; and John Leshy, former official at the
Natural Resources Defense Council. All were now in positions to direct
policy–and all were dedicated to the radical “Wildlands Project”
land management plan.
In addition, an entire network of environmental groups, including most
of those once led by the now-Clinton appointees, jumped into action to
build momentum for the plan, both on the national and local levels. Add
to the mix a host of willing politicians and massive funding resources,
and the “Wildlands Project” became the driving force in federal land
management policy. Many of the environmental groups became “Wildlands
Project” affiliates, receiving grants (tax dollars) to develop local,
state and regional plans to implement the project.
Such a radical policy change in federal land management clearly explains
why the Interior Department took such a hard-nosed attitude in dealing
with property owners in the King Range National Conservation Area.
Obviously the plans had changed from simply trying to conserve land
while protecting the property rights of those who lived there, to a
deliberate plan to move all people out of the region, as called for in
the “Wildlands Project.”
The California Wilderness Coalition (CWC) is listed as a “Wildlands
Project” member, as is Jim Eaton, founder of the Coalition. Eaton has
served as California’s representative to the Wilderness Society.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum, is a
member of the Governing Council of the Wilderness Society. The
Wilderness Society is a member of the CWC. The CWC is working with
numerous “former” Earth First! organizations and individuals,
including Dave Foreman, who is co-founder of Earth First!.
Eight members of Congress–all democrats from California–have worked
with the CWC to shut down motorized use of Black Sands Beach in the King
Range National Conservation Area. They are Rep. Pete Stark, Rep. Brad
Sherman, Rep. Vic Fazio, Rep. Tom Lantos, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ellen
Tausher, Rep. Howard Berman, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey.
An article in the January 1999 edition of Wilderness Record, published
by CWC, refers to the BLM closure of the Black Sands Beach in the King
Range. Credit is given by CWC to the Sierra Club and Environmental
Protection Information Center for successfully rallying support for the
BLM’s closure of the beach to motorized vehicles. A large photo of the
Black Sands Beach is shown in the story, with photo credit given to the
Clearly there is solid collusion among federal land management policy
makers at the Department of the Interior, federal policy enforcers at
the BLM, and the massive, highly funded environmental establishment.
Just as clearly, the “Wildlands Project,” and its radical goal to
turn vast areas of North America into wilderness, seems to be federal
policy. That policy is what has made the new federal land management
program the largest land grab in U.S. history.
SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
“It may be that human nature is too strong to be countered. Yet
man is still a reasoning animal. Even if he perishes, he would like to
know, in his agony, what it was that doomed him.”–Book review of
The rules enforced by the BLM in the King Range say there is to be no
new development after 1970. One resident, Leonard Pietila, had his
property condemned because he planned to build a new cabin after the
1970 deadline. The BLM refused to allow Linda Franklin to make repairs
to her access road. The BLM has made it clear–there will be no new
development, no new dwellings, no roads, and no modernization in the
King Range. Period.
But fly over the Big Flat today and notice an uncommon sight. New
buildings–in fact, several buildings. How can that be? Where are the
BLM storm troopers? Where are the fines? Where is the condemnation for
these blatant violators of the environment? Where is the usual organized
outcry from the environmentalist network? There’s not a peep. Because
a quick check of deeds will show that the record owner of the land is
William Devall is a leader in the “Deep Ecology” movement and has
direct connections with Earth First! that expand over a decade.
According to a book entitled “In a Dark Wood,” by Alston Chase,
Devall was an early member of the Board of Directors of the Earth First
Foundation, which was organized to raise funds for the movement.
Currently Devall is listed as an editorial advisor for Wild Earth, the
publishing voice of the “Wildlands Project.” Devall is not only the
co-author of a book called “Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature
Mattered,” but is also the editor of the Sierra Club’s publication,
“Clearcut: The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry.”
Devall, a former sociology professor at Humboldt State University, is
heavily involved in promoting environmental policy. As such, he
presented the wilderness proposal for an enlarged King Range wilderness
area. That presentation was made in Humboldt County, at a public hearing
on May 8, 1985. It was at that meeting where the environmental impact
statement for the BLM’s King Range wilderness review was under
consideration. Clearly, Devall is a major player in helping to create
BLM land management policy–especially that based on the “Wildlands
Now Devall is found to be the record owner of property right in the
middle of the King Range area. The buildings on the property make up a
private retreat operating under the “Big Flat Conservation Trust.”
According to the Trust’s attorney, Bryan Gaynor, the original
buildings on the property burned in the 1930s. Says Gaynor;
“replacement of this structure was determined by the BLM to be
permitted under the Act. The destroyed structure was replaced by a house
of the same size and located on the same footprint as the original
But this is not just a house, it is a private retreat with a complex of
buildings. There is a communal cooking building next to the main lodge.
All of the buildings in this private complex are wood heated. Between
the house and cooking building is an elaborate, heated hot tub building.
Situated in front of the property, between the buildings and the ocean,
is an airplane landing strip. According to attorney Gaynor, “The Big
Flat property is available to a limited number of private groups each
year who wish to use it in conjunction with appropriate wilderness
activities conducted on the surrounding public lands.”
In spite of denials from Gaynor and the Trust, county records show
Devall as record owner of private property, parcel No. 107-184-07,
located right in the middle of the King Range National Conservation
Area. All lands adjacent to and in the immediate area of Devall’s
property are registered in county documents as belonging to the United
States of America-Bureau of Land Management. Date of the sale of the
land is March 5, 1990. Well after the 1970 deadline for allowing the
building of new or refurbished buildings.
How did Devall get the land? Why has the BLM allowed him and the Trust
an exception when property owners who have lived in the region (some as
long as five generations) have been targeted for extinction? Why did the
BLM approve reconstruction of these buildings when local homeowners fear
BLM repercussions if they simply want to repair a porch or roof to their
As in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” new tyranny replaces old in
the wake of revolutions, as power corrupts even the noblest of causes.
Now, with the hated property owners banished from their lands, the
little green pigs of the environmental movement dance and laugh and
frolic on public lands they’ve made their own–at public expense.
Excerpted from the DeWeese Report, May 1999. Information and
documentation for this article was provided by Barry Clausen, North
American Research, P.O. Box 492141, Redding, CA 96049, funded in part by
a grant from the American Policy Center. Clausen is a professional
investigator and a consultant to several companies on the subject of
domestic environmental terrorism. He has testified on the issue before
the United States Congress.
||THE HYPOCRISY OF ENVIRONMENTAL
The Big Flat Conservation Trust compound, located on lands
controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While other
property owners have been systematically removed from the King
Range National Conservation Area, the environmentalist’s Trust
is allowed to build and maintain this private retreat complex.
According to BLM’s own rules, it is illegal. At left is the
communal cooking building where a wood-fueled cooking stove is
used. The wood-heated hot tub is located between the main lodge
and the communal cooking area.
Photo by Glenn Councilman