Imagine you are driving on a Lincoln County road, any road, and a Bureau of Land Management Ranger, with flashing red and blue lights, pulls your vehicle over, allegedly for speeding, or some other violation. Does the Ranger have the authority to issue you a citation, and do you have the right to refuse to be cited?
Such incidents have occurred in Lincoln County as well as other county’s in the state and other parts of the West.
Concerns have been expressed that the BLM, at times, is greatly seeking to extend its authority into areas where some feel it should not go.
Lincoln County Commissioners have discussed the issue a few times in public meetings but have not come to any solution other than to issue notice of protest, either written or verbal.
The Board addressed the issue again in their regular meeting Sept. 15.
In an earlier meeting, Commission chair Ed Higbee said he was questioned as to why the County did not have an ordinance on the books about such things. He said he did not think BLM had any valid Constitutional court action to justify some of their questioned actions.
However, District Attorney Daniel Hooge has said that in 1976, the 9th Federal Circuit Court in San Francisco granted BLM “broad, expansive powers regarding property issues” and a County ordinance would probably be overturned by a higher court.
In his recent research, Hooge said he found that the Utah legislature in 2013 passed a law prohibiting federal agents from enforcing state laws. But, he noted, an injunction was later granted by a federal court that overturned the state law, citing that the federal government has a right through the property clause, to have police power over its own property.
Hooge said he did not think overturning the state law was wise, “but unfortunately federal courts have stated otherwise.”
Nonetheless, Commissioner Paul Donohue said he would like to create an ordinance, “to at least let our voice be known.” Hooge said he could draw up the ordinance, but also advised, “If they want to file an ordinance, they should know it will not likely prevail in federal court.”
Commissioners may deal with an ordinance introduction at the Oct. 3 meeting.