“There was a good reason why the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office had a large presence at the Almanor Basin Tea Party Patriots meeting,” Sheriff Greg Hagwood said Feb. 10.
He said he and his administration, along with the area patrol sergeant Dean Canalia and Chester deputies Ian James and Chris Herrbach, were there to “demonstrate first and foremost their awareness of what the United States Forest Service was trying to inflict on residents and tourists alike with restricting access to public lands.”
“Secondly, I want every citizen to know we do not support, endorse nor will we inflict this one-vehicle limit nonsense on them,” Hagwood said.
“Bottom line, we are not going to be agents of the federal government in creating a new class of criminals who are doing nothing more then accessing what are public lands.”
—Greg Hagwood, Plumas County Sheriff
The referenced one-vehicle limit is a rule being proposed that would limit persons pulling trailers or gathering firewood to being able to only move their vehicle off the roadway a distance equal to the measured length of their personal vehicle(s).
He then spoke about all the laws, rules and regulations the USFS already has in place to protect the forest.
“I will be damned if my staff will start inflicting these latest federal mandates on law-abiding citizens who are doing nothing more then enjoying what should continue to be recognized as public lands,” Hagwood said.
He also talked about road access for snowmobile, off-highway vehicle and woodcutting use.
“I see this as the beginning of an effort to restrict and inhibit access to public lands. Just because those uses are not targeted today does not mean they won’t be tomorrow,” he said. “At some point this nonsense has got to stop.”
He said there are already numerous laws that address resource damage and irresponsible behavior on pubic lands and in the forest.
“There are ample laws to address those issues now. The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office will not be citing, arresting, seizing vehicles of residents who have driven 30 yards off the roadway to collect firewood,” he said.
According to the proposed rule, persons who drive off the roadway will be in violation of the USFS Travel Management Plan and subject to punitive measures.
“No one supports damages to resources or the environment but we have to get to a point where political correctness takes a back seat to common sense,” Hagwood said.
“I was elected to protect the rights of our citizens and I take this duty seriously. I believe my stand (is) in keeping with the general sentiment of the people of Plumas County and the employees of the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s a shame that we have come to recognize the seriousness this late in the game — better late then never. People are beginning to recognize the infringement on their liberties and I applaud those who are waking up and taking action.”
As for his stand on the issue, Hagwood said, “I think it’s essential people in Plumas County understand that as important as enforcing laws are, of equal importance is our job to ensure people’s liberties and freedoms.”
Looking at others in attendance at the Almanor Basin Tea Party Patriots meeting Feb. 8, it was obvious Hagwood is not alone in his sentiments.
Present from Lassen County were Sheriff Dean Growden and county supervisors Bob Pyle and Larry Wosick. Sheriff John Evans traveled over from Sierra County.
Plumas County supervisors Sherrie Thrall and Terry Swofford also attended the meeting.
Moving up to the state and national level: representatives were in the audience from the offices of Assemblyman Dan Logue and Congressmen Wally Herger and Tom McClintock.
The meeting was live streamed with a file to go to archive on the Tea Party website.
It was anticipated that the following government offices were viewing the meeting from outside locations: Congressman Dan Lundgren and the board of supervisors from Plumas, Lassen, Butte, Modoc, Sierra and Tehama counties.
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