Law-enforcement officials in Montezuma and Dolores counties are concerned that tension between residents and U.S. Forest Service officials will erupt in confrontations about the Forest Services planned road closures.
Right now, that is one of my biggest worries, Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell said. People in the community really have a sense that their freedoms are being taken away, and it is a huge concern how they are going to act on that once the snows melt.
Officials from both counties contend that some of the roads in the Mancos-Cortez region and the Boggy-Glade region slated for closure are historic county roads eligible for protection under U.S. law. Neither county has made an official claim to old roads.
Tensions heightened after the Forest Service released the Boggy-Glade plan Aug. 12, 2010. The plan, which will undergo additional review, proposes to close 155 miles of forest roads within the Thomas and Glad Mountain, Boggy Draw, Dolores Rim and Glade Canyon priority areas. About 354 miles of forest roads would remain open under the plan.
Some of these roads need to be closed, Spruell said. But the way (the Forest Service) went about doing it was wrong.
Residents became increasingly vocal after staging a protest march to the Dolores Public Lands Office on Feb. 4.
If a Forest Service personnel is attacked, I will do everything in my power to protect them, Spruell said. But, at the same time, I think they are really bringing it on themselves.
San Juan Forest Supervisor Mark Stiles disagreed with the sheriffs. He said progress has been made during talks between county and Forest Service officials.