(Photo is looking down Elk Lake Resort's driveway in the fall.)
Even in the middle of nowhere, the news finally reaches us. I'm not talking about the politically correct drivel the news media tends to serve up in nice bite-sized chunks. I'm talking about what most environmentalists don't want us know. Namely, how their game plan to tie up our public lands is moving forward.
The funny thing is, I do not consider myself 'un-environmentally friendly.' In fact, I consider myself quite the opposite. I haven't studied the issues surrounding several local animals or issues because I'm bored. I do it because I care! In fact, I live closer to this land than most people who consider themselves 'environmentalists'. Actually, based on what I read, that may put me on some group's 'hit' list.
Just like many of the ranchers who have cared for the land for generations because their livelihoods depended on it. It's just a case in point of how far we've come from Lex Rex, Samuel Rutherford's fine work on the law - for those of you who aren't familiar with the work, Lex Rex is Latin for "The Law is King".
As Rutherford said, "That power which is obliged to command and rule justly and religiously for the good of the subjects, and is only set over the people on these conditions, and not absolutely, cannot tie the people to subjection without resistance, when the power is abused to the destruction of laws, religion, and the subjects."
However, today we seem content to be more aligned with Rex Lex, "The King is Law". What, you say? We have no king!
I'm not that far out of touch. However, I beg to differ. Our 'king' doesn't sit on a throne but behind a bench. He doesn't weald a sceptor but a gavel. Because, the 'kings' in the US these days are Federal Judges who see their life-time appointment as equivalent to a royal appointment
Thank God, not all Federal judges work from this perspective. However, it appears to be a growing malaise which threatens to destroy our people and take the country with it.
Take a recent story in Range Magazine. For those of you who are not aware of this publication, it is all about protecting the ranching / farming way of life. I will admit, it is a bit 'bitter' at times, but then, with stories like the one that follows, I can understand why. And, having worked with several ranchers, up-close and personal, I can appreciate much of the truth which underlies the stories therein.
In the article by Judy Boyle entitled, The Great Oz and The Judge, I learned about Judge Lynn Winmill, an Idaho Federal judge whose record shows a distinct inclination to twist 'facts' to make them say what his apparent supporters want them to say. (I had 'heard' of Judge Winmill just the other day - in the Idaho Farm Bureau Magazine. However, Judy's story added some sad facts.)
It appears Judge Winmill is in the pocket of Western Watersheds Project. Their name sounds innocent enough (I'm not surprised - who wouldn't be on guard if they were called Land Grab Coalition or something else along that line?). However, despite their innocent-sounding name, they are throwing their weight around with the help of Judge Winmill.
Take the case of Verl Jones, an 85 year-old rancher born on his family homestead just outside Challis, Idaho in 1916. Due to space limitations, I won't repeat the entire story.
However, the jist is, Verl's ranch (and family - remember, there is always a family involved) was attacked by WWP (via Judge Winmill). Using faulty information (the case was later overturned by the 9th Circuit Corut because the judge's injunction was not legal) they managed to basically shut down his ranch. However, not only was Jones required to pay WWP's lawyer fees ($36,000), but his ranch nearly went under - and he DIED!
It makes my blood boil when I read of a family being attacked using what basically equates to illegal means using as their vehicle our own court system. And, to read Verl died - even though he was an old man, he had a right to live - there are no words to convey my frustration!
As Rutherford said in Lex Rex, "If the estates of a kingdom give the power to a king, it is their own power in the fountain ; and if they give it for their own good, they have power to judge when it is used against themselves, and for their evil, and so power to limit and resist the power that they gave." In other words, we (the people) gave the power. We have the right to take it away. When a judge works outside the law, he obviously considers himself above the law. However, he is not. And, it is up to US to do something about it! When will we?
Maybe not soon enough. Judge Winmill is at it again. This time he's taking the US Fish and Wildlife Service to task. In effect, Judge Winmill has decided the USFWS isn't as smart as he is. Judge Winmill ordered the USFWS to start over - redo their study on Sage Grouse. It comes as no surprise the plantiff is WWP. And, guess what folks? Not only do we (the taxpayers who Judge Winmill is supposed to be working for!) get to pay the USFWS wages to start over from scratch and redo their studies, but we get to pay WWP's attorney fees if they win this case.
Worse yet, this case has the potential to ruin some ranchers who graze on public lands - which, if you haven't noticed it's okay to burn up - just not to graze or log. Furthermore, it has the potential to shut down private landowners from using their land as well.
Okay, so I'll get off my podium. However, I'm not doing so happy! Although we live in a wonderful land and enjoy freedoms no other country has ever known, we are acting like frogs in a pan of hot water. The heat is turned up, folks, and were slowly stewing to death in our own bath!
For those of you who worry about these things - I haven't fallen off the deep end. I haven't even turned into a gun-toting radical. However, I, for one, wish our news media would give us a little more rounded presentation of the issues. More Americans need to get involved in fighting unjust laws (and lawgivers) if we're going to keep the freedoms which we enjoy. After all, you could be next!
Lady of the Lake
PS Just a reminder to my faithful readers - you will always find the newest blog post at our website. Although every post will eventually be added to my blog page, the blog page on our website has the newest post. So, if you want to the latest and greatest (okay, not quite that good but. . .), use this link.