Let backcountry experts to their jobs | AspenTimes.com

Let backcountry experts to their jobs

Earlier this year Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced House Resolution 622 (Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act), also known as the “Poacher Protection Act.” This bill would abolish the law enforcement branches of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and steer block grants to local Sheriff’s Offices to take up the slack.

The bill would leave millions of acres of public lands vulnerable to abuse and lawless behavior, taxing state and local authorities and fundamentally compromising American’s safety. The association of federal law enforcement said the bill will eliminate about 1,000 rangers, investigators and law enforcement personnel who patrol America’s backcountry alongside local sheriff’s deputies and state game wardens.

“I’m in no way belittling local law enforcement,” said Jay Webster, retired U.S. Forest Service law enforcement and investigations patrol captain. “However, the expertise in what we do as opposed to what they do is different. We respond to archeological crimes and catastrophic wildfires. No way would a sheriff’s office … be able to respond with resources to those kind of incidents.”

And as many county sheriffs have pointed out, their officers can’t enforce federal laws. This would, essentially, be a gift to poachers and drug cartels, providing even more opportunities for them to abuse public lands and diminish public safety. At its core, House Resolution 622 caters to local anti-government groups, such as the armed extremists that took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon last year.

“As sportsmen, we look at this bill as anti-fishing, anti-hunting and anti-American,” said Randy Newberg, host of “Fresh Tracks” on the Sportsman Channel. “It’s one more way to diminish or eliminate the public lands concept.”

Our law enforcement officers are on the front lines of conservation and already do more with less. Let’s give them the resources they need to do their jobs.

David Lien

Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Colorado Springs

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