The “differing views” on trespass law (Western Livestock Journal, August 11, 2014, pg. 1, pg. 8) have succeeded in making a hash of a simple situation. The Western Watersheds Project, against whom some Wyoming ranchers have filed a trespass suit for entering their property without permission to obtain samples of water on private property, argue that this is not trespass because they had a right to collect samples in order to exercise their constitutional right to petition the government for redress of grievances.
This argument of the Western Watersheds Project is pure poppycock.
While they certainly have a constitutional right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, there is no constitutional right to require that others provide them with evidence to support their petition. By the reasoning of the Western Watersheds Project, they have the right to seize paper from an owner of paper in order that they can file a petition with the government for a redress of grievances and that the provision of paper for that specific purpose is included in their constitutional right to petition the government.
In fact, the Western Watersheds Project ignores the fact that if they have probable cause of the commission of a crime (for example, polluting water that originates on private property that subsequently harms others who use that water downstream), they could get a search warrant from an Article III judge to allow a law enforcement officer to access private property for samples of the water. If they do not have probable cause (and, hence, do not have a warrant from a judge), however, then entering private property to get samples would be trespassing.
It is very simple. There is no conflict between property rights and having the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. A clever attorney has made it appear to be so to avoid being convicted of trespass.
Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw, Nevada Ranchers
The July 21, 2014 article by Traci Eatherton titled, “Forest management ‘smart and responsible’ when it comes to fires,” failed to mention anything about returning to cattle grazing as a form of fire prevention. Cattle numbers have been drastically reduced here in Arizona due to the “drought.” This word is no more than an excuse to put ranchers out of business. I’m preaching to the choir here, but instead of spending money to put out fires, the government should be earning revenues to keep fires from starting. Yes, we are in a drought, one that has been in existence for probably 100 years. Old timers of 40 years ago talked about making hay in Paradise Valley, AZ, 100 years ago, grass that was belly deep on a horse. Paradise Valley is now a suburb of Phoenix and I have never seen grass that tall there, but there has been enough to sustain cattle in a controlled grazing situation.
All of Arizona needs to be re-grazed; cattle numbers need to be increased to control all the new grasses and ladder fuels created by government mismanagement. How many more firefighters have to die before the government wakes up to the fact that cattle grazing is the answer they have been looking for to solve the dilemma they are in regarding forest fires? That’s “smart and responsible.” Steve Burd, Grand Canyon, AZ