Cushman Road incident to be investigated by BLM
The Bureau of Land Management is conducting a criminal investigation into the destruction of federal property in the July 21 removal of gates blocking a road near Olathe.
The incident on Cushman Creek Road resulted in the destruction of property valued at more than $1,000, Shannon Borders, spokeswoman for the BLM’s Uncompahgre Field Office, wrote in an email, noting that she would have no further comment.
One member of the group that opened the gates claimed in a letter to Montrose County officials that nothing wrong had been done and the BLM had no authority to close off the road.
“No one was hurt. We stayed within the principles of law. We threw off the Federal Government’s usurpation of Colorado sovereignty and jurisdiction and restored access to the public lands,” David Justice, a leader of the group, wrote to the county in a letter posted at http://www.libertyactiongroup.com.
It was up to Montrose County and the sheriff to prevent the BLM from closing the road in the first place, Justice wrote.
“It is our position that we have broken no law, and have done nothing wrong. Regardless, we are being investigated by two persons representing themselves to be special agents of the Department of the Interior,” he wrote.
The road should be open under an 1866 law, Revised Statute 2477, Justice wrote.
The statute was intended to encourage settlement of the West in the wake of the Civil War and stayed on the books for a century. It was repealed in 1976 with the adoption of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, but claims that were valid in 1976 would remain so.
Justice, a paralegal and Montrose-area radio host, said in the letter that his days of removing gates are done.
“I have no plans to be involved with the reopening of any more roads,” he wrote. “The message has been sent. I trust that it will be received.”