U.S. Rep states feds have all the power they need to acquire any land they want while federal agencies threaten court action for land owners who won't become "willing sellers"

TRACKSIDE © by John DíAloia Jr. January 7, 2003

Last year, during a congressional committee hearing on the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, a lady testifying asked the committee to prohibit the use of funds authorized by the bill to seize private property using the power of eminent domain. Representative Billy Tauzin (LA-R) told her that the federal agencies already had all the power they needed to acquire any land they want, casting her concerns aside as a trivial matter. That a congressman could be so disdainful of constitutional rights and the limited government established by the Founders is outrageous. Tauzin can use any party label he wants, at heart he is a Socialist. Even more outrageous is the fact that the federal government in fact does make use of its 800-pound gorilla power daily in its dealings with citizens. What it wants, it takes, damn the rights of citizens, damn the constitutional limits placed upon its power.

Land ownership rights are part and parcel of our western heritage, notably documented at Runnymeade in 1215. They are a cornerstone of our freedom, yet in the hands of government, land ownership becomes a source of tyrannical power. What the federal government is in fact doing is, as would a despot, accumulating unto itself as much land as it can. What compounds the debacle is that we are supplying the tax dollars to let the feds have a Fifth Amendment fig leaf. Every bill that authorizes tax dollars to acquire land increases the size of the fig leaf. The ultimate end result is that land and freedom will become for John Q. Public nothing but an exhibit in a future "Czars, 400 Years of Imperial Grandeur" showing, locked up in a federal palace and brought out for the peasants to marvel at every decade or so.

A Fox News report cited the experiences of land owners near hiking trails dealing with the Forest Service. A couple was told by the feds that their land was needed as a buffer zone. They didnít want to sell, but were threatened by court action. Frightened and harassed by fed agents, and with fears of financial ruin, they sold out for half the going price of other land in the area. What do you want to bet that the Forest Service recorded the purchase as one from a "willing seller" because it didnít have to resort to legal action? The report quoted other landowners with similar experiences. One land owner reported being hounded on the job by Forest Service agents with the message "Sell or we take you to court."

Besides attempting to grab land immediately adjacent to a trail as a "buffer zone" so hikers will not see a home or a farm, the Forest Service uses an expanded definition of "human intrusion" to cover any vista open to the trail user. If human activity is in a line of sight, it becomes "visual pollution" and has to go. Whereas the Fish and Wildlife Service is using the roaming of endangered species to establish corridors that will lead to the land being confiscated under the Endangered Species Act, the Forest Service is using existing national trails as the rational for creating ever expanding tracts of government owned, human-less land, tracts grabbed using the existing eminent domain powers cited by Tauzin. The buffer zone concept is exceedingly nebulous.

Today a buffer zone is needed to "protect" the trail, tomorrow more land will be "needed" to protect the first buffer zone. It has no defined end. It is what happens when the legislative branch turns government over to The Clerks who use their broad authority to do what they want, backed by the bottomless pit of the U.S. Treasury. We learned in school that the federal government has three independent branches, supposedly operating to check and balance the excesses of each other. Why is it not operating as it should, as envisioned by the Founders? Why are not the usurpations of power of one branch brought up short by one of the other branches? It is simple. All three branches have decided that by working in cahoots, they can become Guardians and enhance their dominion over society. Historians will point to many turning points, many decisions, many dates as to when the decline and fall of our constitutional republic started. In the end, the fault lies with an apathetic electorate which has refused time and again to demand that the government adhere to the limits placed upon it by the Constitution. The electorate has both acceded to government growth, and demanded government growth, apparently believing that government is a savior that will protect it against all evils, including themselves. As Pogo so eloquently said, the problem is us.

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