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Commissioner Royce Hackworth Speaks Out!

 When volunteer firemen in Elko County, Nevada were alerted to a wildfire in the nearby Cedar Ridge Wilderness Study Area on July 19, 1998, they immediately rushed to the scene to extinguish the blaze. But the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forbade the firemen from driving their trucks over 200 yards of brush to reach the flames because it would allow motor vehicles to travel offroad in a federally-designated wilderness area. The result: 1,000 acres of protected wilderness burned needlessly.

Elko County Commissioner Royce Hackworth was outraged when he learned of the BLM's action the next day. Because the volunteer firemen had been turned away only 200 yards from the fire, firefighters had to walk two-and-a-half miles the next day from the nearest road to reach the flames. It was too risky to make the trek at night. The fire had burned 70 acres the first day but had spread to more than 800 the next day, when full-fledged firefighting efforts could begin.

BLM officials insisted they had no choice but to follow the law as approved by Congress. It eventually took 156 firefighters and a dozen planeloads of retardant worth $60,000 to bring the fire under control three days later. Hackworth and the firemen believe the fire could have been stopped the first day had the BLM let them use their trucks.

"It's a waste of resources," says Hackworth. "It could have been put out for less than $15,000."

U.S. Congressman Jim Gibbons denounced the BLM's actions on the floor of the House of Representatives. "This environmental extremism has allowed the fire to burn nearly 1,000 acres... The lack of common sense and the bogus government extremism are wasting taxpayer dollars. This could threaten our land and destroy human lives in the process."
Source: Royce Hackworth