Vail Daily letter: Should be black and white
So it’s a “gray area,” says the U.S. Forest Service regarding public access along the reaches of the Salt Creek road (south of Eagle). Mr. Bissett of Texas (Letters to the Editor, Oct. 6) found this out from this federal agency when he protested a landowner’s sign that declared the road to be “private.”
Here again, when it comes to individual rights, specifically the right to enjoy public lands, a federal agency, rather than acknowledging or researching the truth, evades an issue by asserting that it is murky, “gray” or subject to equivocation.
There is a Colorado Supreme Court case (Sutton v. Olson) that adjudicated and determined that the Salt Creek road was in fact “public” its entire length through private lands and to the public land of the Forest Service — historically, this road accessed Fulford.
Does the Forest Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture) opine that the issue of forest lands, being pubic in the first instance, is also murky or gray, considering the wilding and extant constraints on use? Consider the designs of the U.N. or “Hidden Gems.” We all know that members of the public need educated about their diminishing rights, but why does the “educator” itself (the Forest Service) need a lesson?
Would it be too much to expect for the Forest Service to admit that it does not know the answer to Bissett’s question, or for it to research the matter in order to morph “gray” into “black and white”? If the Forest Service is tasked with the responsibility of administering “public” lands and access thereto, would it be too daunting a feat for it to determine what is “public” and what is “private”? Likewise, the county of Eagle is tasked with the responsibility of enforcing the public’s right of access over “public” roads, trails or pathways. Is this too a “gray” area regarding the offending sign?
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