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
Its all necessary, you see, because such lands must be saved
from the ravages of the predators called homeownersfor the sake
of protecting the environment.
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. Dont
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 mans word is his bond.
Franklins 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 to 1970.
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 teams document. Apparently, the BLM had simply
cast aside the Core Planning Teams recommendations and, instead,
implemented one of its own.
The BLMs 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 missionland
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 BLMs 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 Kings 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
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 Pietilas
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
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
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 didnt 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 BLM?
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 seller?
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
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. Why?
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 corridors.Tom
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
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 didnt 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
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 didnt 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 policyand
all were dedicated to the radical Wildlands Project land management
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 Californias representative to the Wilderness Society.
California Senator Dianne Feinsteins 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 Congressall democrats from Californiahave 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.
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 BLMs 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 BLM.
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.
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 Animal Farm
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 clearthere
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 buildingsin 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?
Theres not a peep. Because a quick check of deeds will show that
the record owner of the land is William Devall.
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 Clubs
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 BLMs King Range wilderness
review was under consideration. Clearly, Devall is a major player
in helping to create BLM land management policyespecially that
based on the Wildlands Project.
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 Trusts 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 building.
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
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 Devalls
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 existing homes?
As in George Orwells 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 theyve made their ownat
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.