Another land battle brewing in New Mexico - Feds ordering cattle off privately-owned land
All: These are ranchers in southwest New Mexico, BUT: this can happen
to YOU, in the county and state where YOU live. Ask the folks in West
Virginia or the Pilgrim family in Alaska ... the NPS has targeted
them for removal. Ask the farmers of the Klamath Basin of Oregon and
California. Ask me here in Ohio about US Fish & Wildlife Service
and its intent to remove the Amish and Mennonite farms in order to
install a federal wildlife refuge on the best farm soils in Ohio ...
ask Wayne and Helen Hage in Monitor Valley, Nevada, whose fight with
the Forest Service dates back decades. Ask the snowmobilers who lost
all access to Yellowstone for awhile. Ask the decimated timber industry,
exteriminated by one 'poster species' that thrives in places like
San Francisco. Ask all those folks who are being victimized by the
INTRODUCTION of the Canadian gray wolf in their states (or the folks
in Florida, who have been force fed the Panther). It CAN happen, and
it DOES happen. Please, read and forward widely! (Julie Kay Smithson,
Property Right Research)
February 9, 2004
Bill Richardson, Governor of the State of New Mexico
RE: Unconstitutional Jurisdiction Being Imposed, Causing An Emergency
We, Kit and Sherry Laney, hereby give constructive notice to the above New Mexico State officials that the New Mexico Federal District Court and the USDA Forest Service are attempting to impose an unconstitutional jurisdiction over us and our life, liberty, and property. The Federal District Court has ordered that our cattle must be removed from national forest system lands. However, the Court did not dispute the fact that we have a privately owned deeded fee interest in the lands within the boundaries of our ranches that is not part of the national forest system lands.
As a result of the Court Order, Marcia Andres, Gila Forest Supervisor,
has ordered that the area within our Diamond Bar ranch and the road
that carries the title Forest Road 150 be closed (as shown in Exhibit
It has been told to us by neighbors and other associates that Forest Service personnel have told them that we have threatened violence against an individual who contracted with the Forest Service to deliver hay to the proposed cattle impoundment area. These accusations are blatantly false. This information has come to us second hand, but is very believable due to documented examples where Forest Service personnel and U.S. Attorneys have used any means, including lies and threatened force, to attempt to intimidate individuals and public officials into "cooperating" with their unconstitutional and unauthorized demands.
Due to these actions of the Court and the Forest Service, we fear for our safety and the safety of our neighbors because of what federal agents did at Ruby Ridge and Waco. All we want to do is stand up for our rights and make sure no violence occurs.
We therefore give the above public officials a demand for protection. This can be accomplished by their adhering to their Oaths of Office and enforcing state statutes to (1) intervene on our behalf and protect us and our property rights from the actions of the United States and its agents who are attempting to enforce this unconstitutional jurisdiction; and (2) prevent an emergency from escalating into what happened at Ruby Ridge and Waco. In addition, we give notice that we will hold personally accountable (in a State court of proper jurisdiction) any person(s) who side with, aid, and/or abet (with or without a contract) the actions of the United States and its agents in the destruction of our civil rights and our property.
The following facts are relative to our situation:
1. We own, in fee simple, an interest (estate) in the lands within
the boundaries of the Diamond Bar and Laney ranches for raising livestock.
Our deeded fee interest is based on a Declaration of Ownership of
the fee that is legally and lawfully filed in the Catron, Grant, and
Sierra County Clerks' Offices. The Declaration includes an exhaustive
chain of title going back to 1882. The Federal District Court, by
invoking rules of the Court, did not dispute the fact that we own
this legally and lawfully filed deeded fee interest (based on res
judicata under N.M. law) in the lands within our ranches. This means
that our cattle are not ranging on national forest system lands.
3. Federal ownership and jurisdiction over lands, or interests in land, in what is now called national forest system lands, is limited. The limits of federal jurisdiction within the states was the subject of a Congressional Report generated during the Eisenhower Administration in 1957, referred to as the "Eisenhower Report." The report outlines four basic areas of federal jurisdiction within the states: (1) exclusive legislative jurisdiction, (2) concurrent jurisdiction, (3) partial jurisdiction, and (4) proprietary jurisdiction. There is no evidence in the New Mexico legislative proceedings to show that exclusive legislative jurisdiction was ever ceded by the New Mexico Legislature in accordance with Article 1, § 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution of the United States of America (see NMSA 1978, 19-2-2 through 19-2-11) Due to this fact and the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court, federal jurisdiction over these lands falls within the category of proprietary jurisdiction, wherein the U.S. functions as any other land owner within the state, and must abide by State law and depend on local law enforcement to serve warrants, court orders and arrests. This fact is supported by any number of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, such as Woodruff v. Mining Co., 18 Fed. 772, wherein the U.S. Supreme Court stated that upon the statehood of California, "the only interest of the United States in the public lands was that of a proprietor, like that of any proprietors."
4. The federal government, under this limited jurisdiction, cannot compel any New Mexico public officials, including the New Mexico Livestock Board or the County Sheriffs "to enact or administer federal regulatory programs," (N.Y. v. U.S. 120 L.Ed.2d 158) nor can the federal government or the District Court, authorize federal agency personnel or contractors to violate State law (i.e., New Mexico Livestock Code).
5. The United States Supreme Court, in U.S. v. New Mexico, 435 U.S. 696, 98 S.Ct. 3012 (1978), stated "Congress intended national forests to be reserved for only two purposes-'[t]o conserve the water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the people." In this case, the Court also stated that "The [New Mexico] State District Court held that the United States, in setting aside the Gila National Forest from other public lands, reserved the use of such water 'as may be necessary for the purposes for which [the land was] withdrawn,' but that these purposes did not include recreation, aesthetics, wildlife preservation, or cattle grazing. The United States appealed unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court of New Mexico. Mimbres Valley Irrigation Co. v. Salopek, 90 N.M. 410, 564 P.2d 615 (1977) We granted certiorari to consider whether the Supreme Court of New Mexico had applied correct principles of federal law in determining petitioner's reserved rights on the Mimbres. 434 U.S. 1008, 98 S. Ct. 716, 54 L.Ed.2d 750. We now affirm." [Emphasis added]
6. In relation to the ownership of water for livestock, the U.S.
Supreme Court stated in U.S. v. New Mexico "The United States
contends that, since Congress clearly foresaw stockwatering on national
forests, reserved rights must be recognized for this purpose. The
New Mexico courts disagreed and held that any stockwatering rights
must be allocated under state law to individual stockwaterers. We
agree. " [Emphasis added] Also, The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals,
in Diamond Bar v. U.S. assumed without deciding that we owned stock
watering rights, but that these water rights did not give us any rights
to use national forest system lands. We concur. Contrary to the assertion
of the Courts, we claim no right, title, or interest to any lands
or property that was reserved from other public lands by the Presidential
Proclamation dated March 2, 1899, known as the Gila River Forest Reserve.
8. Due to the limited jurisdiction of the U.S. and the limited administrative authority of the Forest Service, the authority of the LEOs is also limited. They must be subject to the local Sheriff for any law enforcement activities. The Sheriff is the highest law enforcement official in the County as ruled by the Wyoming Federal District Court. "Wyoming is a sovereign state and the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state or federal official." Castaneda v. US, Case No: 2:1996cv00099, Wyoming District Court, Casper.
9. The actions of the Forest Service in this matter are in fact actions under the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture. The actions of the Secretary are limited by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, P.L. 988-577, 78 Stat. 890, as amended [emphasis added]. Sec. 701(h) of that Act states, "All actions by the Secretary concerned under this Act [Agriculture or Interior] shall be subject to valid existing rights. " Valid existing rights are short of vested rights. We have vested rights to a severed fee interest (estate) to water and range for raising livestock on the lands within our ranches that is immune from denial or extinguishments by the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture. This principle is affirmed in a Department of Interior Board of Land Appeals case involving mining rights claimed by the Santa Fe Pacific Railroad, 64 ILBA 27, p. 5, wherein the Judge stated "It is beyond cavil that ownership of the severed mineral estate in fee simple constitutes a 'vested right' which is 'immune from denial or extinguishment by the exercise of secretarial discretion,'" [emphasis added]
10. In the Forest Service's closure Order 06-222, the Gila Forest Supervisor, Marcia Andre, is acting outside her legal authority and in violation of FLPMA for the following reasons:
a. We have vested rights that are immune from denial and extinguishments by actions of the Secretary of Agriculture in accordance with FLPMA.
b. In ordering the closure of Forest Service Road 150, she is claiming that this is a national forest system road. This is a false claim. The road in question shows up on surveys as far back as 1882, long before the Gila Forest Reserve was withdrawn. The road is an RS2477 road that cannot be closed by arbitrary and capricious actions of the Gila Forest Supervisor.
c. She has stated that the Closure is to protect the public health and safety. The protection of the safety and health of the public is under the authority of the County Sheriff, not the Forest Service. The actions of the Forest Service are in fact putting the residents in and around the closure area in jeopardy of having their health, safety, and civil rights violated by errant and over zealous LEOs.
Our situation hinges on three principles of law; the sovereignty
of the State of New Mexico, the limits on federal jurisdiction, and
the oath of office of state officials.
/s/ Kit Laney /s/ Sherry Laney
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