Article by Ed Quillen
Public Lands – February 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine
WITH EVERY CHANGE in presidential administrations, the big question in this part of the world, in the interior but far from the interior of the Washington Beltway, is not “Who will be attorney general?” or “Who will run the state department?” Instead, we wonder about the Secretary of the Interior.
That’s because Interior manages federal land, and Uncle Sam is by far the largest landlord in Colorado, especially Central Colorado.
The federal government owns about 34% of the 66,341,120 acres of Colorado, and the percentages are much higher in Central Colorado. Current statistics are hard to find, but there was a list from 1957 at hand, and the numbers have not changed appreciably since then.
Only four counties in our region are less than half federal land: Alamosa at 13.8% (probably because it’s one of Colorado’s newest counties, and the folks who drew the county lines in 1913 did their best to exclude untaxable federal land), Custer at 39.5%, Frémont at 43.1%, and Costilla with none at all, on account of the Mexican land grants that have become the Forbes and Taylor ranches.
As for the rest, federal ownership ranges from 52.1% in Park County to 88.0% of Mineral County. Chaffee is 75.5%, Conejos 55.7%, Gunnison 77.1%, Lake 69.9%, Rio Grande 54.4%, and Saguache 64.3%.
Add it up, and the federal government controls 56.5% of the land hereabouts: 6,277,115 of the 11,102,080 acres in Central Colorado and the San Luis Valley.
Much of the federal land is managed by the Department of Agriculture through the Forest Service, and almost all the rest is managed by the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. So Interior doesn’t manage it all, but it sets the tone and issues most of the regulations. Thus it’s the Secretary of the Interior, rather than the Secretary of Agriculture, who gets most of the attention.
The attention comes from producer lobbies — timber, grazing, mining, oil and gas — and from environmental and recreation lobbies. And George W. Bush’s nominee for Interior Secretary, former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton, has certainly drawn her share of attention lately.
Her background includes a couple of stints working for James G. Watt, Ronald Reagan’s controversial Secretary of the Interior. Reagan got a lot of support in 1980 from “Sagebrush rebels” — mostly rural Westerners who wanted the federal government to turn land over to the states, which might in turn sell them to private entities.
Rural economies in the West were then very dependent on mining, logging, and grazing, and the feds had been tightening the rules, making matters more difficult for many enterprises. It’s little wonder that people were angry — with their livelihoods at stake — and that there were demands for the feds to put the public lands in hands more friendly to local economic interests.
But that didn’t happen then, and it’s not likely to happen now, even if Gale Norton actually wants to hold a land auction on the Capitol steps.
TO UNDERSTAND WHY, a look at American history is in order, and it will reveal that public lands have always been integral to the mission and role of the federal government. Public lands are not some peripheral matter. On the contrary, in ways they’re at the heart of the federal system.
Start with the 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast. Many of their charters, granted by the British government in the 16th and 17th centuries, specified their boundaries as extending to the Pacific Ocean — even though British claims pretty well ended at the Mississippi River.
Thus we are on land that was once claimed by Virginia. Some of it was also claimed by Maryland and Pennsylvania. This didn’t matter much under British rule, because in 1765, Parliament outlawed settlement west of the Appalachians.
This law was obeyed about as well as the 55-mph speed limit, however, and it was one reason the colonies declared their independence in 1776. As the Declaration put it, King George had discouraged growth and settlement in the West of that day by “raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”
The British surrendered in 1781. But after successfully declaring that they could govern themselves, the former colonies actually had to find a way to do that. Their first effort was called the Articles of Confederation, which featured strong state governments and a central federal government so weak that one hesitates to use the word “government” to describe it.
But it was this congress, operating under the Articles of Confederation, which established federal control over public lands. Recall that some colonies, which were now states, had claims on all land west to the Pacific. Also note that many states had been unable to pay their soldiers in cash during the Revolutionary War, and had instead given out vouchers for land somewhere out West — in those days, Kentucky or Ohio.
But what good would a Virginia voucher do if the soldier used it on land that turned out to be in Extended Western Maryland, which might have issued the same land to someone else? It wouldn’t do to provoke a revolt against the new government by the veteran soldiers who had just fought to establish that government.
Congress took its usual course, even in 1784. It assigned the issue to a committee. However, this committee was headed by a masterful politician, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who of course denied he was a politician throughout his distinguished career.
Jefferson’s committee produced the start of compromise. The 13 seaboard states would get somewhat sensible western boundaries. The land beyond, unless it was already in private hands (George Washington, among others, held speculative interests in some western lands, and so, of course, existing property rights would be respected) would be turned over to the central government.
In return for giving up their claims for 3,000-mile strips from sea to shining sea, or at least from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, the states would be released from their war debts. These obligations, including land payments to veterans, would be assumed by the Confederation.
And so, federal public lands are older than the current federal government. The central government, such as it was, began taking control of these lands in 1784, and the Constitution was not adopted until 1787.
That bit of history should settle one major modern contention in the West, as to whether the federal or state claim to public lands is the stronger claim. If seniority means anything — and we seem to think it does when it comes to water — then the federal claim is much stronger. It goes back to 1784, and Colorado wasn’t even a territory until 1861. Indeed, the area south and west of the Arkansas River wasn’t even part of the United States until 1848.
SO IF YOU WANT to blame somebody for the feds controlling all this public land, blame Thomas Jefferson — who ironically was a steadfast opponent of federal power.
As America expanded westward, the federal government acquired land by treaty, usually after warfare. The Western Slope of Colorado, for instance, was acquired by an 1880 treaty that Chief Ouray described as “the sort of agreement that a buffalo makes with an arrow.”
Treaties typically reserved some lands for the Indians or for military purposes — thus we get “Indian reservations” and “military reservations” — and they tried to honor existing titles and land claims, as with the land grants and subsistence farms in the land conquered from Mexico.
The rest of the land was called “unappropriated public domain,” and there was an immense controversy over what to do with it.
Some thought it should be sold off to the highest bidder to pay down the national debt — indeed, the only time in American history that the United States was not in debt was in 1836, and the money came from land sales.
Others saw it as an opportunity to practice some “social engineering” in various ways. Recognize squatters, and you’d have one kind of people on the frontier. Dispossess squatters and arrange matters so that the smallest unit the government would sell would be a 36-square-mile township, and you’d get a different kind of people — speculators and their victims.
Build canals and railroads into the land under the “American system” advocated by Henry Clay and the Whig Party (Abraham Lincoln started his political career as a follower of Clay), and you’d get another sort of economic and social system.
For our part of the world, we can start with the decade or so before the United States invaded Mexico in 1846.
Two cities then vied for control of the Interior West, except that in one of those cities — Chihuahua — this territory was known as La Frontera del Norte. The other city was St. Louis.
They had different views of how to use this territory. Spain, and then Mexico after gaining independence in 1821, at first saw it as a buffer zone. Spain would ally with the Utes, and the Utes would protect the empire from incursions by the French, English, and Yankees. Indeed, it was Moache Utes who spotted an invader in early 1807 and reported Zebulon Pike to the authorities in Santa Fé.
The other Spanish and Mexican frontier policy was somewhat similar to the American policy of using land to pay soldiers. Spain and Mexico issued land grants off in the northern frontier to private parties.
BUT THE AMERICAN WAY conformed to Jefferson’s ideal of small farms; soldiers typically got 160 acres — enough to support a family in places where rain is a regular occurrence rather than something you take your children outdoors to see.
Spain’s grants advanced the ideals of padrones with vast ranchos — 100,000 or 500,000 acres.
Spain relied on free enterprise. Once the impresario got his grant, everything else was up to him: recruiting colonists, building roads, maintaining postal communications, repelling Indian resistance, and so on.
The United States was supposedly a free-enterprise economy, but we socialized those costs. The federal government built roads and then railroads, maintained postal service, erected military forts and dispatched cavalry.
The difference between these two approaches is reflected in Colorado’s oldest town, San Luis. Since the 1830s, Mexican authorities had been trying to settle in the territory north of Taos. But the Mexican government just issued land grants to people like Carlos Beaubien; it didn’t build a road or keep soldiers around or maintain communications. Thus these isolated settlements were quickly repelled by the Utes.
After America won that land in the Mexican War, the colonists ventured north from Taos again in 1851. There was now an official government road over Sangre de Cristo Pass (a variant of modern La Veta), and after 1852, a cavalry troop at nearby Fort Massachusetts to protect them and insure that their mail got delivered.
This time around, the settlement stuck. With protection and communications, they were even able to venture into the nearby mountains to build an irrigation ditch in 1852 — it’s the oldest water right in Colorado.
St. Louis won the war with Chihuahua. It was in an ideal position to take control of the West and determine how the territory would be organized.
The trouble with St. Louis was that it didn’t have a plan. It just traded with the Indians and Hispanics who were already out here; it didn’t encourage farmers or miners to develop the resources of the territory. All that “unappropriated public domain” could have stayed that way under the St. Louis system.
BUT THAT WAS ABOUT TO CHANGE. The battle was no longer military, but political, between the American North and South. The issue, which would lead to the bloodiest military conflict in American history, was not slavery per se, but the expansion of slavery into the territories acquired from Mexico.
In the 1850s, Jefferson Davis was a senator from Mississippi, and served as Secretary of War during the Pierce administration. Davis knew that transportation would be the key to controlling the West, and that whatever city controlled the transportation could impose its culture and economy on the new territory.
So he commissioned transcontinental railroad surveys — not from Minneapolis or Chicago, but from St. Louis, Memphis, and New Orleans. To keep the southernmost route within the U.S., he promoted the Gadsen Purchase, with the U.S. spending $10 million for 29 million acres of otherwise worthless desert. To maintain commerce and communication across the arid southern route, he imported camels — the “ships of the desert.”
While Davis was busy advancing his sectional interests from Washington, a new opposition was developing to oppose the expansion of slavery into the territories. It, too, was sectional.
The Midwest — called the Old Northwest then, and organized in rectangular townships and section line grids as proposed by Thomas Jefferson with his rationalist philosophy — was coming into its own as an American political region. The political party that developed to advance Midwestern values and interests was the Republican Party.
The Republican Party was organized, first and foremost, to halt the expansion of slavery into the territories. But then what?
Organize the territory as part of the Midwest. Build a Pacific Railroad from a terminus in the Midwest, rather than the south. Pass a Homestead Act, so that small family farms, as opposed to large plantations, would dominate the countryside. And because they would be near a government-subsidized railroad, these farms could grow for national and international markets, and buy from those markets as well, rather than attempt self-sufficiency. Educate the public in how to occupy this land with new agricultural and mechanical colleges supported by land grants.
These were all part of the Republican program, almost from the time the party was founded in 1854. It wasn’t just anti-slavery; the party had a vision for our part of the world — some social engineering on a continental scale. These federal initiatives were always blocked in Congress by the Southern representatives and senators.
But the South left the Union in 1861 and recalled its congressmen and senators. That left Northern Republicans free to advance their goals of converting the West into the Midwest, and the party’s leader was a railroad lawyer from Illinois.
The bills that passed Congress in 1862 determined the course of the West — and consequently the public lands — for the next century and more. The Pacific Railroad Act, the Homestead Act, and the Morrill Act for land-grant colleges all emerged from Congress that year, and that Midwestern railroad lawyer president, Abraham Lincoln, was ready to sign them.
Little wonder that he sounded pleased when he delivered his annual address to Congress on December 1, 1862. Lincoln was a nationalist — why else would he have struggled so hard to hold the Union together? — but he was also a man of his region, the Midwest. In that light, consider certain portions of that speech:
Lincoln said that “The Territories of the United States, with unimportant exceptions, have remained undisturbed by the civil war, and they are exhibiting such evidence of prosperity as justifies an expectation that some of them will soon be in a condition to be organized as States and be constitutionally admitted into the Federal Union.”
JUST HOW QUICKLY they got into the federal union depended on how badly Lincoln’s Republican party __needed electoral votes. The Union Armies were stalled in the summer of 1864, and Lincoln feared he would not be re-elected. To provide another three sure electoral votes, Nevada was admitted in great haste — so quickly that its state constitution had to be telegraphed, at great expense, to Washington, and well before it had the requisite 30,000 residents.
Colorado was admitted in 1876, just in time for its three electoral votes to make Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, rather than Democrat Samuel Tilden, president of the U.S.
Lincoln went on to say that “The immense mineral resources of some of these Territories ought to be developed as rapidly as possible.”
Thus the federal government would support surveys like the Hayden expedition that attempted to map mineral resources. Existing practices to convert public land to private land in the form of mining claims were codified in the General Mining Acts of 1866 and 1872.
The idea was to tie the West to the Midwestern agricultural and industrial complex, and Lincoln made that specific as he continued.
He defined “The great interior region,” and said that “territorially speaking, it is the great body of the republic. The other parts are but marginal borders to it.”
Obviously, Lincoln didn’t share the common modern belief that America consists of two coasts, and the rest of the nation, like the part we live in, is “flyover country.”
He was concerned with keeping the Great Interior Region connected to the rest of the world. That’s why we were fighting the Civil War, he told Congress:
“As part of one nation, its people now find, and may forever find, their way to Europe by New York, to South America and Africa by New Orleans, and to Asia by San Francisco. But separate our common country into two nations, as designed by the present rebellion, and every man of this great interior region is thereby cut off from one or more of these outlets — not, perhaps, by a physical barrier, but by embarrassing and onerous trade regulations….
“These outlets, east, west, and south, are indispensable to the well-being of the people inhabiting, and to inhabit, this vast interior region. Which of the three may be the best, is no proper question. All are better than either, and all of right belong to that people and to their successors forever.”
So it could be argued that Lincoln pursued the conquest of the South so that the farmers of the Midwest would have three choices as to how to ship their produce to the nations of the world — east via the Great Lakes and Erie Canal to New York and Europe, west to the Orient via the Pacific Railroad, or south via the Mississippi to New Orleans. That’s something that you won’t find in many history books, which see Lincoln as a saint rather than as a practicing practical politician looking after the home folks.
BUT THE REAL EFFECT of the Union victory, on the ground out here, is that the West became a vast hinterland for Chicago — the major city of Lincoln’s home state.
The process is wonderfully explained in a great book, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West by William Cronon.
To recap Cronon briefly, most of what we think of as the “old west” is really the “Chicago West” that developed after the Civil War. The idea was to populate the land with farmers and ranchers who would send their grain and beef to Chicago elevators and slaughterhouses. They would ship on railroads like the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, or the Chicago & Northwestern, or the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. They would in return buy manufactured goods like cookstoves and pianos, or even their houses, from places like Montgomery Wards or Sears, Roebuck & Co., both based in Chicago.
HOW DOES THIS CHICAGO attitude affect public land? To put it bluntly, under the Chicago world-view, public land was there to be put into private hands as quickly as possible.
Thus came the General Mining Act of 1872. Other countries kept title to the lands and charged a royalty for any minerals that were extracted; the United States wanted to transfer title by patenting mining claims.
There was the Pacific Railroad Act, which gave thousands of square miles to the railroads. These were in alternate sections. The theory was that the presence of the railroad would increase land values so much that the government’s remaining land would more than double in value.
Again, note that the idea was to transfer the land into private hands that would work the land — either directly by government sales, or indirectly through railroad land agents, who advertised throughout Europe for immigrants to come and farm.
The Homestead Act was another way to put public land into private hands, and when it dawned on the folks in the humid East that 160 acres wouldn’t support a family out here in the desert, the act was amended and extended. There was the Timber Culture Act of 1873 and the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902, which encouraged irrigation — yet another attempt to convert our public-lands desert into a pleasing facsimile of the humid private-land Midwest.
Somewhere along then, it began to dawn on folks in Washington that a goodly chunk of the public lands in the Mountain West would never become private under the existing Chicago way of looking at the world.
There were whole ranges of mountains that didn’t contain any minerals worth mining. There were deserts unfit for pasture, even at 80 acres to a unit. There were slopes too steep to be timbered, and as for the public-domain land that could be logged — big timber companies and small charcoal operators would just sweep through, leaving nothing but stumps. They weren’t interested in acquiring the land; they just wanted to harvest the trees and move on.
This upset a lot of people, among them President Benjamin Harrison, a Republican who served from 1889 to 1893. During his term, he set aside six “forest reserves” — three of them in Colorado — that would remain in public lands. They were “reserved” from homesteading and the like, and they were the ancestors of our national forests.
Harrison’s immediate successors — Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt — also used their executive powers to create such reserves.
Today there’s an outcry from the West when the president uses the Antiquities Act to declare a National Monument, or issues an order not to build new roads on 40 million acres that don’t have roads now.
It was the same a century ago. In 1907, Western politicians gathered in Denver to denounce this federal land grab, or as they put it, “this foolish and sentimental regard of the forests.” Senator Thomas “Slippery Tom” Carter of Montana called the forest reserves “a contemptuous disregard of the people’s interest,” and Sen. Henry M. Teller of Colorado asked “Are not men better than trees?”
They had the old Chicago view — convert public resources into private property as quickly as possible. The new Chicago view, taking form a century ago, had the same goal as the old one — managing the land for maximum production.
BUT THE NEW VIEW was also informed by Midwestern Progressivism, which believed that public enterprise could do some things better than private enterprise, because public enterprise could focus on the long term, while private enterprise had to focus on short-term profits.
In the case of public-land forests, it was in the private company’s interest to take the trees and move on, without even acquiring the land and thus the responsibility for it. The public sector, it was believed, could manage for long-term sustainable yield. It could provide some stable work for sawmill towns while protecting downstream water supplies, that sort of thing.
All of this was more or less codified under the new Forest Service, which Theodore Roosevelt organized in 1905 as the Bureau of Forestry under Guifford Pinchot. That removed Forest Service lands from homesteading, and the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 effectively removed the rest of the public domain — land administered by the Bureau of Land Management after the 1946 merger of the General Land Office and the Federal Grazing Service.
So for most of the 20th Century, our public lands were operated under the Chicago premise that resources were there to be developed, modified by Scientific Progressivism so that the experts in the Federal Government would manage that development.
The experts would determine the best places for irrigation projects and hydro-electric facilities. They would issue oil and coal leases. They would arrange for timber sales and grazing rights. And along the way, if a few people camped or hunted on the public lands, that was essentially a by-product of all this productive activity on the public lands.
WESTERNERS may not have liked this at first, but we got used to it, since it generally embraced the Chicago Midwestern world-view that we grew up with, and it was an integral part of the extractive-commodity economy that was the “Old West” — cows, timber, and mining.
This all functioned, more or less, into the 1970s, back when Climax Molybdenum was hiring 100 men a week in Leadville — when lumberjacks were making enough money to spend their winters in Mexico, and when ranchers with BLM leases could sit around bars playing liar’s poker with $100 bills.
But as everyone knows, it’s not that way now.
The shortest way to put this is that we are no longer a hinterland to Chicago, the Hog Butcher to the World. We are becoming the hinterland of Los Angeles, the City of Dreams: economically, physically, and culturally.
The physical connection to Los Angeles is as close as the Colorado River, which is managed, primarily by federal agencies, to serve Southern California.
It’s also represented in the haze in southwestern skies from coal-fired power plants. L.A. practices NIMBY on an almost continental scale. It needs electricity, but its clean-air laws make it almost impossible to build new power plants. And so the plants are built in the Four Corners region.
This physical connection can also be noted at the L.A. County Dump — which happens to be in Carbon County, Utah.
But it is the economic and cultural effects that are more powerful. L.A. is the home of Hollywood and Disneyland — places that create images and sell experiences. That is their economy, and it’s becoming our economy.
Think about the last time you watched TV and sat through an ad. Did you see anything about “America’s Public Forests, producing timber and pulp that are important to our national strength”? Or “Public lands grazing — sure it’s subsidized, but our American ranchers have to compete against Third World beef producers”? Or “Coal from our public lands — a wonderful national asset”?
Well, if you did, you were watching some channel I don’t get.
What you see are ads for spewts, showing them roaring around on public lands. People are kayaking, rafting, hang-gliding, rock-climbing, fishing, camping, skiing, mountain-biking — that’s what L.A. says our public lands are for.
And the public-land management agencies are reacting. They can’t sell much timber anymore, but they need income from “forest users” — so they’re charging “user fees” to recreate on public lands.
That’s where most of the value in public lands is now. To put this another way, in 1997, the Forest Service sold about $500 million worth of timber. That’s less than Americans spent on just camping equipment that year. It doesn’t count spewts, ATVs, rifles, GPS systems and the thousands of other ways that American commerce has devised to make money off recreating on the public lands.
THIS TRANSFORMATION isn’t just economic. It has an almost religious aspect, too.
BLM land — the remnants of the “unappropriated public domain” used to be known as “the land the damn government couldn’t even give away.” In recent years, it has become part of “our sacred public lands.”
That attitude will complicate any efforts at any development of public lands, although it may be cloaked in other language. One had to read between the lines to find it in the objections to a perfectly sensible idea to put some public lands near ski resorts into private hands to build housing, so that resort workers didn’t have to risk their lives by commuting two or three hours a day over twisting, icy mountain highways.
That seems like a legitimate public purpose — but the opponents acted as though Forest Service boundaries had been carved on stone at Mt. Sinai.
Another force that will work against the sale or development of federal lands in Colorado is the most powerful industry in the state — the real-estate industry.
PICK UP ANY mountain-town newspaper, or look through the upscale property ads in the Wall Street Journal. You will often see phrases like “adjoins public land” or “public land on three sides” or “surrounded by public land.”
Why do they use this in real-estate promotions? Because it adds value to the property, and it adds value because people assume that the public land will never be developed. Thus they will never have neighbors, let alone neighbors of the wrong color or economic class, and in America, that’s a major added value to a piece of property.
So you’ve got the “protect our sacred public lands” crowd on one side of the political spectrum, and the “protect our sacred property values” on the other. Those two forces — combined, they pretty well cover everybody in Colorado — should insure that current public holdings will stay much the same for the indeterminate future.
The same forces doubtless operate in other Western states. The Sagebrush Rebellion is deader than Confederate money, because those resource-based jobs and industries that people were trying to protect in 1980 aren’t around any more.
The Black Cloud closed in 1999, so there’s no mining in Leadville any more. That’s when the last revenue freight train went west of the Royal Gorge on what had been the main line of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. The last coal mine in Frémont County closed at the end of 2000. So did the last sawmill in South Fork. People for the West (later known as People for the USA) had been founded as a sort of anti-Sierra Club in order to protect and promote those jobs and industries — and it folded in January because it no longer drew enough support.
So where’s the base of support in 2001 for removing federal control of the public lands?
But on the other hand, do these public lands have to be administered by the federal government? Could state or local government do the job?
Dan Kemmis, the former Missoula mayor who wrote a fine book, Community and the Politics of Place, once argued that it’s time that we grew up and took our responsibilities seriously, and one of those responsibilities was managing public lands around our communities.
He made that pitch at a meeting of the Western Colorado Congress about four years ago in Montrose. He was supposed to speak, and then the organizers had a four-member reaction panel that was supposed to respond.
The bombshell that Kemmis dropped was so powerful that the reaction panel didn’t even mention it — they skirted it, sticking to their prepared statements even though they were supposed to be reacting to his speech. If this proposal can’t get a respectful discussion at a meeting like that, it’s not going to.
Further, the people who really matter in this discussion prefer that the decisions be made in Washington, no matter how much you hear about “local control.”
Whether it’s the Sierra Club or the Federal Timber Purchasers Association, it’s cheaper and easier for them to maintain one high-powered lobbyist crew in Washington than to maintain a crew in each statehouse, let alone each county courthouse. It’s also cheaper and easier to invest in a few congressional campaigns than in hundreds of smaller contests.
ADD ALL THIS UP, and it’s safe to make a few _predictions. The public lands will remain in federal hands and under federal management because they are a national heritage and a national concern, and they have held that status since before the constitution was adopted. Their boundaries will be about the same as they are now, although their management will change — from BLM to National Monument, from plain old National Forest to roadless zone, etc.
Their goals will continue to change from commodity production to recreational amenity, and there will be increased fees for that recreation.
And those recreational interests will collide, just as local and federal interests have collided over the years. One of those collision points is “RS2477,” a federal statute adopted in 1866, when almost all of Central Colorado was “unappropriated public domain.”
But that collision between spewt drivers and backpackers (some of us are both), and between local and federal interests, is a topic for next month. The point here is that the federal role is not going to go away, no matter who is Secretary of the Interior.
Ed Quillen helps publish Colorado Central in Salida. This is adapted from “Public Lands Under Fire,” a speech he gave on Sept. 9, 2000, to Club 20 in Grand Junction. The speech was also adapted for the Custer County Chautauqua on Oct. 20, 2000 in Westcliffe, and the Colorado Plateau Forum on Nov. 15, 2000, in Grand Junction. A portion of it was published on Nov. 26, 2000 in the Perspective section of the Sunday Denver Post. To shorten this version for print, the manuscript was stripped of jokes, asides, humor and related musings, but Quillen stands ready for future adaptations on behalf of anyone with a checkbook.