Forest Service Denies Threatening Hunters' Property, But the Threat Remains Online

Forest ServiceA week ago, I
of the battle between state and federal officials over
restrictions on use of Arizona’s wild areas. Specifically, back in
August, officials managing the Coconino, Kaibab, and Prescott
National Forests issued a terse press release threatening to seize
property and issue citations if hunters camped in one place for
more than 72 during upcoming hunting seasons. This, even though
many hunting seasons last for a week or more, and after decades of
a 14-day rule on campsites. Arizonans screamed, the Arizona Game
and Fish Department
demanded a retraction
and an apology, and the Arizona Sheriffs
objected and refused any help
in enforcing the rule. In fact,
state and county officials promised to
treat any property seizure as a theft
. Yesterday, the feds
backed down. Sort of.

In an
opinion piece
distributed to the media for publication, Mike
Williams, Kaibab National Forest Supervisor, and Earl Stewart,
Coconino National Forest Supervisor, “set the record straight” that
they’d been referring to actual abandoned property, not
hunters’ campsites.

Back in August, the Forest Service distributed a news release
that attempted to explain rules regarding abandoned property on the
National Forests. The intent of the release was to provide
information and clarification on a growing issue facing forest
managers. We regret the confusion and concern, particularly among
the hunting community in Arizona, caused by our

Let us be 100 percent clear. Forest visitors camping and
actively engaging in hunting or other recreational activities are
not at risk of being cited or having their property considered
abandoned after 72 hours. Hunters and other campers have never been
required to move camp every 72 hours and will not be required to do
so in the future.

The Kaibab and Coconino National Forests are not implementing
any new regulations or policies. Both forests have orders in place
for a 14-day stay limit for camping occupancy. Forest users may
camp and occupy a site for up to 14 days in a 30-day period. Most
of our hunters and campers have long been familiar with this 14-day
stay limit, and it has not changed.

That’s all fine and dandy. We’d hate to have any
miscommunication now, wouldn’t we?

But, as I write, the
original press release remains available online
. It reads, in

Parking trailers in forests prohibited during hunting

Flagstaff, Ariz. – The Coconino National Forest is
asking all northern Arizona-bound hunters to refrain from leaving
their trailers unattended in the forest during the upcoming hunting
season. In previous seasons, law enforcement officers have found
numerous trailers parked in the forests for the purpose of reserv
ing a location for the entire hunting season and also because the
individuals did not want to haul their trailers back and forth.

Parking a trailer in the fore st for this purpose violates
Forest Service regulations. If trailers are left unattended for
more than 72 hour s, the Forest Service considers them abandoned
property and may remove t hem from the forest. Violator s can also
be cited for this action. Enforcing these regulations protects the
property and allows recreational users equal access to national

This regulation applies to all national fo rests in northern
Arizona, including the Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott forests.

For more information, contact the Coconino National Forest at
(928) 527-3600

Thanks for the clarification, Mike and Earl. Arizonans might
have really misunderstood your intentions without it. Then again,
people living around wide open spaces tend to know the smell of

Forest Service press release

from Hit & Run

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