Sunday, September 18, 2011

Otero County, New Mexico Vs. Smokey the Bear

Via Sipsey Street Irregulars comes this tale of a county taking on the federal government over a decision to cut trees in a National Forest over the Forest Service's objections.

Just heard by phone from Bob Wright on the Otero County Chainsaw Rebellion today. About 300 folks showed up to defy the Feds and the Feds blinked. Congressman Pearce cut down the first tree and then it was cut into 2" slabs and handed out to members of the crowd as souvenirs by the Otero County Sheriff Benny House.

The Feds came into town a couple days ago and threatened to arrest anybody who tried to cut down a tree. The Sheriff is reported to have said, "You do that and I'LL arrest YOU for kidnapping." The Feds made themselves scarce today, Bob reports.


And, presented with what was basically a fait accompli, the federal government, in this case represented by Smokey the Bear, blinked:

Otero County Commissioners and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce will be allowed to legally conduct their emergency tree cutting ceremony Saturday in the Lincoln National Forest.

It puts to rest any fears that commissioners or Pearce may be arrested for illegal logging on federal lands.

Commissioners have been negotiating with federal attorneys in Albuquerque about cutting down trees on the Lincoln National Forest since Monday morning.

Commissioners and the U.S. Forest Service, through the U.S. Attorney's office, have signed an agreement that allows logging on one parcel of land in the forest.

The agreement also allows the tree cutting to be done on a parcel of land in Sleepy Grass, located within the forest, at noon Saturday. The event will begin at Zenith Park in Cloudcroft. Commissioners are working on making arrangements for participants and observers to travel by bus to Sleepy Grass for the ceremonial tree cutting because of safety conditions.

County Commission chairman Ronnie Rardin said he is pleased that commissioners and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque reached an agreement.

Ok, Sheriff, Put the Gun Away, I'll Let YOU Fight The Fire.

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