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Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Endangered Species" A Red Herring

Tom Ellison of the Regional US Forest Service office once told senior Payette National Forest Management officials in no uncertain terms:

"The law does not agree with our agenda" but it "doesn't matter" if we can "find bloated salmon carcasses in the tread of the county road grader".


SUBVERSION
In the document above, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, it is clear that the Forest Service was conspiring to subvert the rule of law. For such purposes as infringing on private property owners rights and RS-2477 rights of way granted to local governments before the Forest Service even existed.



HISTORY OF ROAD DESTROYED BY USFS 

In the late 1870s, Norman Willey (the first governor of Idaho in 1890) and his brother were hired by the then territory and soon to be state officials to construct a road and bridge across the South Fork of the Salmon River to connect the Warren Wagon Road to the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River Road and the lower Secesh Road that is now known as the Lick Creek Road from Yellow Pine to McCall.

ROAD BUILT BY STATE ENTITY

Norman and his brother constructed the bridge in a two year time frame, which was paid for by the state with land that became the Willey Ranch and was subsequently subdivided into the Davis, Fritzer and Willey Ranches. The town of Frank sprang up overnight just south and west of the Willey Ranch. It included a post office with its own zipcode, general store, and rudimentary buildings.

Soon after the Willeys constructed the bridge across the South Fork to accommodate wagons, a 100 year flood event happened which washed away the bridge.

The state sued the Willeys claiming that the bridge made mostly of wood was built to subpar standards and demanded the land back that was paid for constructing the bridge.  The Willeys countered the state by claiming that they had followed state directions exactly and that it was the fault of the state for not properly engineering the bridge to account for exceptionally high spring melt and flooding.

Ultimately the Willeys prevailed in court, but agreed to construct a less expensive cable car system for traversing the river. A cable car which local residents used for over 100 years.

Eight miles of road from the Warren Wagon Road which had been constructed by the Willeys at state expense remained until the early 2000s.


ROAD UNLAWFULLY DESTROYED BY USFS

In the mid 1990s the Forest Service became determined to force the Fritzers, Willeys and Davis family into selling the land to the Forest Service. Del Davis, a decorated WWII veteran, miner, and avid critic of the Forest Service refused to sell his ranch and mining claims to the Forest Service,  which apparently infuriated the Forest Service with a rage that knows no end.

The Forest Service obliterated the road to the Davis, Fritzer and Willey Ranches. At first the ever defiant Del Davis simply rode his Honda Trail 90 the five miles from Lick Creek Road down a trail that would give the heartiest mule nightmares. In fact: several mules have been killed on the trail the elderly gentleman rode his motorcycle down.


NO OTHER REASONABLE ACCESS MEANS

The airstrip was sometimes used, but even seasoned veteran Ray Arnold once reportedly broke a propeller during a typical rough landing at the remote strip and was forced to make on site emergency repairs.

Ultimately, there was only one reasonable choice for accessing his ranch. So Del worked with the county and reopened the road the Forest Service had destroyed.

The Forest Service flew into a collective fit of rage that the landowner began using a road that was built 35 years before the Forest Service was created. And that the state, via jurisdiction granted to it by the law known as RS-2477 had used public funds for creating in the 1870s.

As the attached email shows, Tom Ellison and Erin Rohlman of the US Forest Service knew that Del Davis and Valley County were well within their rights to use the road the lawmakers of what would become the state of Idaho had lawfully constructed. And it was the US Forest Service that had violated the law, and which continues to do so to this day.

MYSTERIOUS FIRE RESULTING IN DEATH

In the mid 1990s a mysterious fire occurred at the Davis Ranch. After Jack Quast, the school teacher in Yellow Pine reportedly was at the Davis Ranch and said he saw well known Forest Service rangers trespassing at the ranch. A 90 year old man and lifelong friend died in the fire. A man who had reportedly also told the Forest Service that he would never let them have the ranch.

After that fire, another flood hit the ranch and washed out a large portion of the roadway the state had paid governor Willey to build in the 1870s.


MORE UNLAWFUL ROAD CLOSURE

In 2003, the Forest Service signed "an emergency closure order for safety" ordering the road closed once more. Forest Service Rangers reiterated, in writing (Payette National Forest agenda 1645: buy the Davis Ranch if it becomes available for sale). The road has not been opened to the public since.

FOREST SERVICE DESTROYS RANCH BY LIGHTING FIRE

In 2007, the Forest Service intentionally lit a large wildfire that destroyed historical structures at the Willey Ranch, also burning up a sawmill and private timber Willey Ranch members said they were intending to use to build additional structures.

The Forest Service took great precautions to protect a cultural heritage site near the confluence of the Secesh and South Fork. Wrapping apple trees planted by Chinese miners in the mid 1800s with protective fire blankets to ensure survival of the forest fire the Forest Service intentionally lit soon afterwards.

The Forest Service took no precautions in protecting structures at the Willey, Fritzer and Davis Ranches forest officials knew would be in the path of the wildfire they were lighting. It would seem that structures hand-built by the first governor of Idaho, Norman Willey, were unimportant to the pyro maniacs who lit a wildfire in 40 mph winds on a 95 degree day.

It certainly wasn't the first time the Forest Service intentionally destroyed historical landmarks. Nor would it be the last.

The Forest Service then closed Three Mile Road in 2010 making the trek to the Willey, Fritzer and Davis Ranches three miles longer than it has to be. Locking vehicles behind gates and stranding hikers in the process,  under the ruthless authoritative ruling of Krassel District Ranger Anthony Botello. The stranded hikers had a diabetic related medical emergency. Thanks to Anthony Botello ordering their vehicles locked behind iron gates, the woman in question was delayed three hours in getting to the hospital.



The Payette National Forest has proven itself to be a heartless and ruthless organization that will subvert the law at every opportunity. 
Or, as I like to call it: legislating from the Ranger Station. 
The purpose of the Forest Service is to uphold the law as set forth by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the Presidentof the United States  (POTUS).
What this email essentially says, the Forest Service's ever authoritarian approach to private land owners is not about the law, or enforcing it, or allowing private property owner rights.

 No, it is about how much drama  we can create as to the loss of fish habitat, which may get a judge to supercede private property owners rights!
You have to love this direct quote from "item4_doc5_email", 

"If the mess is obvious enough , the RS-2477 issue can be avoided or minimized by focusing emphasis on the damage done to resources outside the road prism ... widening of the road itself, material bladed into the river, berms that redirect water flow and increase downstream erosion, bloated salmon carcases stuck in the tread of the County grader, etc. It'd be important to have your game plan and an idea how OGC would suggest dealing with the potential for an RS-2477 challenge before you issue the citation since if you aren't fairly sure you can win on that issue, you might not want to cite for something like road maintenance without a permit, which would be tossed by a determination that the County had an RS-2477 easement, and therefore no need for a permit."





It would certainly not be a stretch to read the paragraph above and deduct that Tom Ellison was directing Erin Rohlman to "plant" the remains of endangered species on "the tread of the county grader tires" just for the sole purpose of making the road issue appear much larger than it really is. And to trample the rights of legitimate property owners seeking to access their family ranches just like they had been doing for longer than the US Forest Service has been in existence. 

Last, but not least: the road in question the Payette National Forest was complaining about didn't have a single creek crossing where a single  salmon was known to exist. 

Proof positive: the only thing "dead" and "bloated" is any integrity anyone in the Payette National Forest may have once had.

Scott Amos

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