Public-lands advocate, radio host indicted
A well-known public lands advocate and radio host — who last year stoked a controversy with federal authorities over a closed road by breaking down an access gate — has been indicted.
David Justice, alternately known as Stanley Hugh Anderson, and others removed a number of barricades along the Cushman Creek Trail near Olathe in July last year, inviting media to the event beforehand and organizing the closure as an apparent protest to federal authorities closing the road.
After a criminal investigation was initiated by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said an indictment was handed down and Justice was arrested Thursday without incident by the BLM with support from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service. He appeared Friday in federal court in Grand Junction.
Shortly after he and others forcibly reopened the road up Cushman Creek Trail, a Facebook post attributed to Justice explained why the group did what it did.
“To call attention to a dangerous precedent being set: a perceptibly all-powerful federal government is using public lands as collateral to finance its insatiable appetite for global colonization; and under the ruse of environmentalism, is stirring dissent among and dividing the people by limiting access to public lands by the illegal taking and occupation of county roads,” the post reads.
Justice, of Gunnison, is charged with one count of willful injury or depredation against property of the United States. Penalties include possible imprisonment up to 10 years and up to a $250,000 fine.
Justice, among other local public access advocates, has often cited a post-Civil War measure designed to encourage development of the West, called RS 2477, as proof that control of well-established roads reside with local authorities.
RS 2477 is also a primary focus for local public access advocate Brandon Siegfried, who is working with Mesa and Garfield counties to ensure a slew of area roads stay open as the BLM works on a management plan for the region. Siegfried, who has been a part of previous events with Justice, said Justice’s actions of a year ago crossed a line with him.
“My understanding is that (the Cushman Creek group) did research that proved that road is an RS 2477 right-of-way. However, their mistake may have been that they actually tore the gate down, versus working with county commissioners and the local sheriff, like we’ve been trying to do in Mesa County,” Siegfried said Friday.