There already have been fights with Washington over health care, gun laws, the Tenth Amendment and other issues. Now a new perspective to America’s rebellion against the power of the federal bureaucracy has been added with a vote by supervisors in one California County to reopen county roads that had been shut down by the Bureau of Land Management.
According to a report from the Blueribbon Coalition, which advocates for public use of public property in the region, the vote came yesterday at a meeting of the San Benito County board of supervisors.
By a 4-0 vote, the board ordered reopened about 25 miles of county roads that are within an area closed off to the public by the BLM in a 2008 decision.
Don Amador, western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, said the board “earned a place in the history books for taking a stand against a federal bureaucracy that has proposed a closure of historic proportions in their county.”
He said the county officials made clear that they “take seriously their constitutional role as a champion of the people.”
“When the federal government ignores the will of the people, local voters and users that visit the area have little choice but to look elsewhere for relief. Up and down the state, I see a growing number of counties who are joining with the people in defense of historic access to federal lands,” Amador said. “Today’s vote to reopen the roads for street-legal vehicles should be a clear signal to the BLM that their effort to make the Hollister Field Office a ‘Human Free Zone’ is going to be challenged.”
George Hill, a spokesman for the Hollister office of the BLM, told WND that federal bureaucrats were a little surprised by the county’s move. They have now asked the county to clarify how it intends to proceed since while the county roads in the region can be opened, the BLM land remains off-limits.
Hill said a draft long-term plan for the area is being worked on now, and he blamed the off-road vehicle fans in the area for putting “pressure” on the county to reopen the roads.
“We’ve … made it clear all BLM land and roads are closed,” he said. But he said without fully marked intersections there, a driver “easily could take the wrong turn and be off the country roads.”
He said the federal agency was hoping the county would wait with its action until the federal assessment and planning process was finished.
The move came only days after Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah authorized the use of eminent domain to take some of the U.S. government’s most valuable parcels in his state.
Lawmakers hope Utah’s attempt to address federal authority over land in its borders will be copied in other states.
While governments routinely use eminent domain to take private property for public use, it’s seldom been applied to other government property. But in Utah, lawmakers believe the federal ownership of millions of acres in the state is restricting economic development.
Amador said the county board vote “was really was of the most energizing and exciting things I’ve been involved within 20 years.”
He said he sees in California and across the West “a growing number of county governments, supervisors or commissioners, who now realize that it’s their constitutional duty to stand with local voters and users against a federal government that’s out of control and out of touch with the needs of their constituents.”
He said issues like the use of local roads – as well as health care and gun laws – should be handled by local governments.
Amador said he watched as the supervisors dealt with the road issue.
“I think they are tired of being bullied by the federal government,” he said.
The vote, he added, “was a clear signal to the BLM that they better get their act together.”
The roads go into a rugged part of central California’s coastal mountain range. There are rock features as well as scenic overlooks, and it is popular for hunters as well as Jeep fans.
He said the roads are historically linked to the county.