[sac-board] Re: Cherry Rd & NASP

  • From: "Gene A. Lucas" <geneluca@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: sac-board@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, Gary Frey <gfreynpo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 31 May 2003 14:33:32 -0700

I would bet "my hat" that the rancher has paid for cattle grazing
permits on the "BLM Land" Cherry Rd. and is fully entitled -- legally --
to set the rules, especially if he has paid to fence the property and
maintain the gates.  That's the "code of the West" -- if the gate is
CLOSED, LEAVE IT CLOSED.  The purpose is to control the cattle.  Even if
there is someone tending the gate, a few minutes mis-attention could
have serious consequences.
Mr. Frey is originally from Michigan.  Up there, when you are say, deer
hunting, you obey whatever posted permits the farmers or landowners
impose -- under penalty of law -- before trespassing.  But that is all
"private property".  Here in Arizona, commercial ranchers pay permit
fees to be able to use and control sections of public land.  The
proceeds come back to the state education system -- governed the Federal
laws that set up Arizona as a state.  The BLM lands are permitted by and
large for the use of the ranchers, NOT for the public.  The BLM lands in
that area are definitely NOT "a campsite".  (Never mind the seasonal
rules imposed regarding fires during the dry season!)
The cattle do not have to know what section of land they are on, by the
way.  Interfering with the cattle can get you in serious trouble, and I
would not initiate an argument with those guys "wearing hats" -- you are
going to turn out to be the loser. The ranchers know what sections of
land they control, and are not going to argue or discuss the issue with
outsiders.  However, like many landowners back in the midwest and other
parts of the country, they are typically not opposed to outsiders making
gentle use of the property, so long as the activities do not interfere
with their legitimate commercial use (like running and controlling
cattle).  It's the "golden" rule -- the ranchers pay the fees -- they
set the rules!
In this instance, Mr. Frey could find himself looking down the barrel(s)
of some pretty long guns while "discussing" the issue.  It is NOT about
who wears a hat!  The County Sheriffs up there are NOT to going to argue
the point, but will likely take the side of the cattle ranchers, and
order everybody off the property.  This could definitely be embarrassing
for anybody wanting to use the property on a longer-term basis.  A
mistake on the part of ANY amateur astronomer is going to reflect upon
the whole community.
I think the SAC folks have it right, esp. since our people have actually
talked to the rancher and have an agreement about proper use of the
property and control of the gates.  (And SAC talked to the rancher
FIRST).  The cattle rancher could just as easily decide to shut off
access to ALL outside users, rather than worry about it -- which is
entirely within his legal rights as a permit holder.
Being arrogant about the issue is not going to solve anything.  Why not
listen and learn.  This is not gaining PAC or NASP any "friends".  I
don't think you can continue to base an annual event on arrogance or
mistaken ideas. Cooperation and better communication is apparently
lacking, and this does not seem to be getting better, year over year.
I think a public explanation might be in order.

Gene Lucas
(Arizona since 1970) 

Thad Robosson wrote:
> Hey All,
> Yes, here's the jist of that situation...We drove by Cherry Rd to see how
> crowded NASP was going to be so Chuck and I would have a possible
> alternative to MMSS.  First thing we noted was the gate was wedged wide
> open.  We pulled over to mention this to who I assume was Gary Frey.  He was
> pretty insistant that he had the situation under control and that the gate
> would be OK left open.  We mentioned the incident in which Jack Jones was
> "lectured by men in cowboy hats" to which Gary replied,  "I've got a cowboy
> hat too, I'll put it on and discuss it if the rancher comes by."  or
> something similar to that.  He was insistent that it was BLM land, and it
> was a campsite, and that it was out of the rancher's hands, despite our
> protests that it was the rancher's cattle, even if it was BLM land.  Our
> parting statement was to the effect that we hoped that we wouldn't come up
> next month to find a padlock on the gate.  I felt that Chuck and I handled
> it politely, and while Gary wasn't hostile, he certainly wasn't cooperative
> what so ever, in fact, you might even call him indignant about the whole
> thing.
> My concern is this....we need to let PAC know that this was inappropriate
> given that Jennifer let Marilyn know that this was a specific issue with SAC
> and the rancher.  They KNEW that in advance, and yet it was unheeded.  What
> should our course of action be in this regard?  A terse letter to PAC?
> Contact the rancher directly?  Can we and the rancher agree to lock the gate
> and only us/him have the key?  Contact our congressperson?  Midnite raid on
> PAC headquarters?
> While there are other sites than Cherry up north, I really, really don't
> want to lose this one, and we need to make it clear that the gate has to
> stay closed at all times, no matter what event or which club is there.
> Thad

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