In this clip, Glenn details a story from Oregon in which homeowners cannot reach their private cabins because the road needed to access them has been taken over by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Ben Burr, Executive Director of BlueRibbon Coalition, tells Glenn this story exemplifies a different kind of federal land grab: ‘They enact so many regulations that make it so difficult for you to access and enjoy your property that eventually you just can't afford to own it anymore. So you sell it, and then they turn it into a conservation area or something.’ It’s a unique type of tyranny that MUST be stopped. Burr explains why this issue needs national attention AND pressure…
TranscriptBelow is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: We have Ben Burr on with us now, he's blue ribbon coalition expert. He is watching and fighting against the federal land grab, that mainly is happening in the West.
Ben, welcome to the program.
BEN: Yeah, thanks for having me, Glenn.
GLENN: So did you look in -- I -- I had my office look into you, and ask the about the story of the homeowners that have to walk to their cabins. And nobody is repairing the road. Because it's BLM land now. Is this just another land grab?
BEN: I believe it is.
I've been working against these federal agencies for years now, and one of the common trends I see is these agencies work to dispossess property owners of their property.
And the way they do it is through what is called a regulatory taking. They enact so many regulations that make it so difficult for you to access and enjoy your property. That eventually, you just can't afford to own it anymore. So you sell it, and then they turn it into a wilderness or a conservation area or something.
It's a really pernicious form of tyranny, that exists within our public system, and these poor property owners in Oregon have been fighting BLM for two years to be able to access a road, that they've been accessing since 1906, to go to these cabins. And now BLM is telling them, they're not allowed to do it. They put up a gate. They won't get the key, and they are being prevented from going to what is essentially their homes.
GLENN: So what -- what is it that they can do?
BEN: Well, currently, we're putting a lot of pressure on the BLM, they've started an administrative process, to see if they can reopen this road. But the reason that I think this needs national attention is because there just needs to be pressure -- Congressman Bentz has been helpful in trying to get this done.
But as you know, the Republicans were in the minority last Congress. As soon as there's a majority, I'm hoping there's some Congressional scrutiny on the behavior of what's going on at the BLM office.
I just -- I don't think the BLM can be an agency that can just decide one day, that you can't go to your home anymore. And they block off a road.
GLENN: I got news for you.
I know you agree with me on this. No agency should be able to get up one day and just change the rules. No agency should do that. Congress makes the law.
BEN: They don't have to change the rules. The BLM's own rules say, like, if you look at their handbook, it says that they cannot deny a property owner access to go and use and enjoy their property.
They're not following their rules. And so -- but they are willing to play chicken. Like, so the question is: Is this going to have to go to court?
It's just frustrating that that might have to be the outcome. Because all you need is for one field managerial to change his mind, and say, they can keep using this road, they've been using since 1906.
And one thing you should know. I did help them get emergency access to go winterize their cabins one year.
There was an early breeze coming. Nobody had turned off their water. This was the first year that they couldn't go up. And we petitioned BLM, saying, can we just go up and turn off the water so we don't break all our pipes and destroy our homes?
And they were like, okay. Fine. You can do it.
So they actually drove up the road, that had been allegedly destroyed by an erosion event that happened from a flood.
The road is passable. You can still do it in a four-wheel drive vehicle. So no work needs to be done.
But the BLM just won't let them open the gate. They're telling them no. And the reason is because they're worried these four wheeled vehicles will run over fish in the river.
BEN: And I've hiked to these cabins, Glenn. I have a picture on our website. Of me hiking up there. The river goes up to my knees. Have you ever tried to run over a fish in a river that is knee-deep with a Jeep?
GLENN: Oh, I do it all the time. I just run over. That's how I fish. And how I take out my anger. I just drive up and down rivers that kill fish. Yeah. This is ridiculous.
BEN: And there are a few places where there are river crossings. They have been doing it for a century and more. And they're worried about the fish.
And they're just like, I don't think they'll run over the fish in their Jeeps.
I've tried to catch fish with my hands in a river when I was a kid, and it's impossible there. They're pretty -- they're pretty adaptive.
GLENN: Yeah. It's almost as if water is their element.
GLENN: Almost. Almost.
Okay. So, Ben, is this part of -- I remember during the Clinton years, somebody was talking about Yellowstone and letting roads in and around the park degrade so people would just -- eventually just vacate that area, because it was too difficult to get to. I don't even know if that was true. That was something going on around the '90s. Is there a concerted effort in our -- in our land management agencies? To do these kinds of things?
BEN: Oh, 100 percent.
In the Clinton era, you have what was called the roadless rule, which was one of these rules, that the agencies just dreamed up. That I think if we could get it before the Supreme Court again, they would strike it down after the EPA versus West Virginia case.
Because they just made up the rule out of clean cloth. They had no congressional direction to do it. But my organization, political, that's one of the primary things we fight over, is roads.
Because if you can close roads, you can close access. That means we're not using our natural resources. It means people can't access private property.
I've helped ranchers. In the same cases, folks in Oregon tried to get up to their graving permit -- permitted land and their private properties.
And so there is a concerted effort to obliterate and decommission roads, all across the public land system. Because that's how you can turn it into what's called designated wilderness, which is you can only go and walk on it, on your own 2 feet, and you can't do anything.
No mechanized anything, on a wilderness area. And some wilderness is okay. Like the recreation region, it's probably okay to have some regions that are okay for all that. But this group that wants to close it all down, wants it all.
GLENN: I have to tell you, I have -- I have land up in Idaho. That when I bought it, it was a good thing.
It's surrounded by BLM, and then surrounded by national forests.
And I thought, that's a good buffer. And everything else. No. That's really bad.
It is literally surrounded. The road has to go through the national forest, to be able to get to my -- my ranch. That's exactly the kind of stuff they want to shut down.
BEN: Yeah. So you have neighbors, who have the infinite power of the federal government to hurt you, if they ever decide they don't want to be your neighbor anymore.
And so you and I, get into conflict with our neighbor, we go knock on their door. And we go talk to them. And we work it out. Things get really heated. Maybe we go to civil court. You have a disagreement with your government, and the government says, we don't like using that road anymore. Now you have to go up against something with a 4 trillion-dollar budget, infinite regulatory power to dispossess you of your property. And how often do you think an individual citizen wins those fights?
It's -- it's hard work. The only reason why I have any ability to know how to do it. Is because I had somebody who had been working at the agency, for 35 years, train me on how to challenge these decisions that come out of these agencies. And there's not a lot of people that know what to do or how to do it.
And so that's an open invitation, by the way. If any of your listeners ever need help with these federal land agencies. We're here to help them.
GLENN: And your federal website is sharetrails.org. Sharetrails.org.