Stanley Campaign: Forest Service Rejects Help
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 20, 2002
Stanley for U.S. Senate 2002
Federal Government Declines Private Assistance -- Again
(DENVER CO) Thursday, June 13, was not an ordinary day for Ron Largent. The Hayman blaze, on its way to becoming the largest wildfire in the history of Colorado, was burning out of control at Lake George, just 25 miles north of Ron's home in Cripple Creek. The U.S. Forest Service hadn't been able to contain it. Today Ron was going to fight the fire.
Ron Largent is the Operations Manager for Anglo Gold Mining in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Concerned about the fire's progress, his company had volunteered men and equipment to help cut a firebreak. The Pueblo office of the US Forest Service had indicated it could use three pieces of earthmoving machinery: two Caterpillar D10 bulldozers, and one D8. The 600-horsepower D10 has an 18' blade and is almost seven feet tall. It can uproot large trees without even breathing hard.
Anglo Gold had already arranged with Ames Construction of Denver to move the bulldozers to the base camp at Lake George. Special trailers for moving them had been driven to Colorado -- one from Utah, the other from Kansas. Anglo Gold and Ames Construction were splitting the $5,000 cost of transporting the dozers to Lake George.
The dozers pulled into Lake George on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by a bevy of heavy equipment operators from the mine who were ready to run the equipment 24 hours a day and cut a firebreak from Lake George to Divide, then over to Woodland Park. The men figured they could cut a 35‚ wide firebreak for 20 miles through the forest in about a week. And they were offering to do this at no cost to the government. They just wanted to help.
Incredibly, the U.S. Forest Service turned them down. Kim Martin, the Incident Commander for the Forest Service, told Ron "The equipment is too heavy. It will tear up the land."
Ron's a big-hearted guy. He still wanted to help. He expanded Anglo Gold's offer of assistance. Not only would they cut a 20-mile firebreak to help contain the fire at no charge to the Forest Service -- Anglo Gold would also commit to replant trees in the affected area once the fire was out. But Martin was having none of it.
On Friday, June 14, Ron Largent and his crew returned to Cripple Creek. A week later, they‚re still seething. The fire remains uncontrolled on its southeastern flank. And the Forest Service is finally calling in bulldozers. Little ones, from the Army, in Fort Carson. Almost fifty miles away.
After recounting this story, Mr. Kent McNaughton, a resident of Crystola, said, "I'm a homeowner in the area threatened by this fire. The Forest Service calls it 'a monster.' I'm incensed that the Forest Service has decided to fight the fire with one hand tied behind their back. They're fighting a bear with a pea shooter. They needed a rifle; and when it was offered, they declined it."
When asked for his reaction, Rick Stanley, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, was characteristically blunt. "Two years ago, when the fire started at Mesa Verde National Park, local volunteers showed up with bulldozers and water trucks.* They could have put the fire out in a matter of hours. But the National Park Service was unwilling to accept private assistance. 24,000 acres of beautiful forest land was incinerated before that fire burned itself out."
"Apparently the federal government doesn't want to let American citizens defend our nation against the threat of wildfire," Stanley continued.
"At the Hayman fire, Kim Martin was unwilling to accept the destruction of 90 acres** of forest by bulldozers. Apparently it makes more sense to let 130,000 acres of forest land burn to the ground, and to force thousands of innocent people to flee their homes, than to let hard working Americans take a hand in defending their property from natural disaster. Not!
"This unconstitutional government is not only denying our liberty -- it is also destroying our property. The federal government has no lawful authority to prevent civilian volunteers from assisting in this nation's defense. And yet they do it again, and again, and again.
"How long will America suffer under this unconstitutional government? When will the citizenry decide that enough is enough?"
* See articles by Janelle Holden in the Cortez Journal, July 29, 2000.
** A firebreak 35' wide and 20 miles long is 3.6 million sq. ft., or roughly 90 acres.
Kent McNaughton (719-686-0676) provided most of the facts in this story. He interviewed Ron Largent (719-689-4042) and Ames Construction (719-689-5531) to learn the details.
Rick Stanley is the Libertarian Party's candidate for U.S. Senate (Colorado) in this year's election. More information about Rick's campaign can be found on his web site located at http://www.stanley2002.org. To schedule media interviews please contact Rick at 303.329.0481.
"The plain meaning of the right of the people to keep arms is that it is an individual, rather than a collective, right and is not limited to keeping arms while engaged in active military service or as a member of a select militia such as the National Guard." - U.S. vs. Emerson, 5th Circuit Federal Court, published October 16, 2001