Sunday, October 09, 2011
Sanctuaries behind the Plan
One County Buffer
Sanctuaries behind the Plan
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
“The range lying east of Shelley Canyon and the main ridge running from the Gila River to Shelley Peak just west of Turkey Creek and the range lying north of the same ridge from Shelley Peak to 74 Mountain and
the Forest boundary, has been eliminated from the Mogollon Creek Allotment as non-usable range.”
That was the extent of the United States Forest Service’s warning and forewarning that Tom Shelley received when he was notified of his eviction from the Gila Wilderness in 1944. Notwithstanding the fact the Shelley family had been on that range since 1884, sixty years, they had been offered no recourse, no alternatives, and no allowance to even contest the eviction.
To grind salt into the wound, the United States Forest Service served notice in another letter that no Shelley cattle would be allowed on the remaining allotment range in 1944, a year of strict war meat rationing. That was the same range that had been noted as being in such poor condition when the wilderness notice had taken place, but it wasn’t the range from which they were evicted!
In a matter of years, the Shelley’s went from running in excess of 5,000 cattle to zero on the lands they had settled 15 years before the Gila was even a Forest Reserve. The First Family of Wilderness had learned what designated wilderness was all about.
Twenty years later, Senator Clinton P. Anderson (D-NM) was able to push the federal legislation through Congress formalizing the land designation used to evict the Shelley family. The designation used by Forest Supervisor L.R. Lessel for the eviction was the administrative policy elevated into use by the Regional Forester in 1924. The concept had been formulated by Aldo Leopold in a moment of epiphany on the Gila’s Black Mountain two years earlier.
In hearings leading up to the passage of the law, several respected men arose and asked the senator how many more wilderness areas was he thinking about designating and how many more ranchers was he going to evict when those lands were added to the wilderness system.
Following that brouhaha, Senator Anderson inserted the wording to continue grazing where it existed at the time of the signing in 1964. The Shelley tragedy would be left silent. There was no need to revisit that issue.
How did the Senator’s pledge to public comments and to the remaining ranchers of the Gila work out? At the time the bill was signed, there remained 24 active allotments. By 2000, 12 of those allotments were fully destocked, and the other 12 were reduced by 86 percent.
In the September, 2011 Texas Border – A Strategic Military Assessment by Barry McCaffrey and Robert Scales, Texas was served notice for a matter they had long known . . . there is a grave and dangerous war being waged on their border.
The underlying direction of the war is made up of two evolving dynamics. The first is the cartels are in the process of creating “sanitary zones” one county deep along the entire border. The second is the growing use by the cartels of organized gangs to carry out their operations.
The upshot to Texans is a broad understatement. “Living on the Texas border is tantamount to living in a war zone.”
Although, it is unlikely New Mexico and California would authorize or seek a similar report regarding their border conditions, their citizenry would find a similar report generated by Arizona more indicative of their situation. It is in Arizona that illicit cross border activities measure up to twenty times more active than those in Texas. Whereas Texas is describing the war zone that its citizenry can expect, Arizona has been the proving ground for techniques and procedures. Its border is not a future expanded front. It is a full fledge battlefield.
McCaffrey and Scales note that “history shows a common border offers an enemy sanctuary zones and opportunity to expand battle space.”
That is an understatement when the conditions of the Arizona smuggling corridors are assessed. Border citizenry can describe exactly the border conditions that have allowed the expansion of the smuggling corridors. The corridors, in turn, have expanded the violence of the cartel war.
The smuggling routes (see The Arizona Smuggling Corridors) have sanctuary zones that few areas along the Texas border provide. Senator Anderson’s 1964 Wilderness Act has long become the cartel’s favorite American legal boondoggle to enhance and expand their trade routes into the lucrative American markets.
New Mexico’s future
If the cartels expect great things from the establishment of the one county buffer in Texas, they will find New Mexico infinitely more appealing. The future extent of the New Mexico buffer can be assessed from maps created within the Wilderness Society’s network of regional wilderness advocates.
From Arizona experience, the sanctuary opportunities that New Mexico will duplicate consist of the expansive plans to further designate Wilderness by the environmental movement and the federal land agencies. Like Tom Shelley concluded in 1944, the outcome of designated Wilderness will result in the elimination of American stakeholder presence.
That includes the elimination of mechanized entry. Mechanized entry means the Border Patrol is robbed of one of the four key requirements for comprehensive border control (see The Arizona Smuggling Corridors).
The New Mexico counterpart counties to the Texas buffer zone would be the counties of Hidalgo, Grant, Luna, and Dona Ana. The plan for further land restrictions in those four counties is breathtaking.
There are currently two major designated Wilderness areas within the four counties. The biggest is the infamous Gila Wilderness. The second is the expansion of the Gila Wilderness, the Aldo Leopold. The plan, though, calls for no less than 22 additional areas along with expansions to the existing areas. A total of 241,000 acres of the plan is already included in the pending S.1024, the concept by Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to designate Wilderness in Dona Ana County.
The plan also envisions the expansion of Wilderness Study Areas (WSA). This concept was ushered into being in the 1976 passage of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). FLPMA called for a scientific review of lands that might have wilderness characteristics which were referred to as WSA(s). The requirement was to conclude the review and present it to the president by 1991 for further action. The president received the report, but the situation has been allowed to languish and American stakeholders have been subjected to agency policy creep and uncertainty since.
The environmental plan calls for silence on the promise of FLPMA to conclude the process and intends to expand the WSA listing. There are at least five areas for designation. “At least” is the operational word because the planning map describes additional possibilities. The map displays the intent of future studies on the majority of both state and federal lands that are not included in the proposed expansions already noted.
Those who are aware of the intent of the “Rewilding” plan know why the future land studies of state and federal land are intended. Those lands are intended to be used for “corridors” for wildlife to interact and move freely between the restrictive land designations and pending proposals. Ultimately, the grand plan will allow the grizzly bears and the wolves of Chihuahua to touch noses with their counterparts in the Yukon!
The Texas report accurately presents the operational scheme by the cartels to exploit creases between United States federal and state border agencies. The most dangerous is the historical disdain for the Border Patrol shown by several of the land agencies.
In a more pragmatic description of the phenomenon, the cartels constantly probe and test the measure of border defense presented by the various and complex federal land management policies and procedures. Soft spots, uncontrolled entry points, are found and immediately exploited. This is a constant and evolving factor of the war.
This whole development of the war is being made worse by apparent advances made by the Mexican military. In a chilling realization, the cartels are discovering it is safer and more efficient to install staging grounds on American soil than it is on Mexican turf.
In yet another glaring glimpse of the future, the National Association of Retired Border Patrol Agents predict when American resolve finally halts illicit cross border smuggling, the cartels will become more overt in their intent to hold the lucrative trade routes. That is when the real danger to Americans is expected. That is when the horrors of what is happening on the south side of border run the risk of spilling openly onto American soil. That is when Rewilding becomes truly wild.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “The lessons learned from the plight of the first family of Wilderness are profound. The removal of more vested American stakeholders on an already dangerous border will threaten every American.”