Friday, June 5, 2009

Ranches Threatened

‘Wild and scenic’ river push worries area rancher
Written by Hank Lohmeyer
Wednesday, 03 June 2009

The historic Escalante Ranch west of Delta is being pressured by boundary, access, and other issues involved with the new National Conservation Area and wilderness. The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness area, which has not yet been officially surveyed, is likely to have boundaries which actually abut portions of the working cattle operation.

A new concern for the ranch managers and owner is a BLM push to assess the Gunnison River and its tributary waters from Grand Junction to the Continental Divide for "wild and scenic river" (WSR) designation.

The BLM's Grand Junction Field Office has already completed an "eligibility report" on the rivers and tributaries in its district, including the Colorado and Gunnison. That report, "Evaluated 117 river and stream segments and found 20 (that) were eligible (for possible WSR designation by Congress), including a 20-mile stretch of the Colorado River west of Grand Junction, 18 miles of Big Dominguez Creek, 15 miles of Little Dominguez Creek, and stretches of the Dolores and Gunnison rivers," according the BLM.

Kent Davis is the manager of the Escalante Ranch. He is concerned that this new government initiative on wild rivers will further pressure the ranch operations. He points to a list of criteria which acknowledge the federal government's right to buy, trade, and accept donations of property, easements and assignments to gain control of WSR designated rivers and streams.

In addition, the feds also have a right to condemn private property in pursuit of their wild and scenic objectives. "The BLM has gone into court in other states to condemn property for wild and scenic rivers," Davis said. Read More

It’s easy for someone sitting in their office in Washington, DC to think it would be a good idea to give some rivers a “Wild and Scenic” designation. However, rarely do these people consider how it will affect the locals that depend on the land for their livelihood. Private property rights is one of the fundamentals that this country was built on. It seems that many people have forgotten that.

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