Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Redneck rampage update

The Duluth News Tribune reported this morning that two of the men involved in last summers harassment and terroristic threats of campers in the BWCAW have plead guilty to reduced charges and agreed to testify against the other 3 knuckleheads involved in the incident. You can read about the incident in its entirety in a post from last August. The interesting thing will be to see what kind of plea agreement and sentence the 'ringleader', one Barney Lakner, will get on 22 January during his court appearance. I think that will give us a pretty clear picture of how northern Minnesota views this incident. This guy basically led a bunch of teen agers on this terror spree involving beer, liquor, illegal fireworks, and a bunch of guns including an AK-47, a .45 auto, and a .22 rifle. He's charged with 13 felonies, a bunch of misdemeanors, and has been convicted of alcohol related offenses and operating a snowmobile illegally in the BWCAW in the past.

There has been and always will be a certain level of resentment when the Federal government decides to appropriate land, using eminent domain or whatever means, and then limits or alters the usage of said land for the local populace. I can personally tick off dozens of stupid and aggravating adminstrative rules that I've personally encountered in the Apostle Islands NLS, Voyageurs NP, the BWCAW, and the St.Croix Wild & Scenic Riverway. These rules normally are designed to protect the stupidest and most irresponsible users of the facility from themselves and others. The feds are normally unresponsive about making these rules common sense friendly and some poor ranger is stuck enforcing them, which tends to aggravate people even more. The locals who grew up in these areas are usually the most affected and look at the outsiders (also known as 'customers') that flock to these areas as a major component of the problem. We were all laughing this weekend as we skied past some of the VOR's dads deer stands along the ski trail. Someone suggested that they be labeled 'vertical warming huts' to avoid offending any of the anti hunting south Minneapolis yuppies (no offense to the BessemerConvivialist and Irish Pirate) who may ski past them. We all have different values and sensibilities which are developed as we grow up and experience life. Sometimes they clash, but when they do the issues need to be looked at and discussed with some level of common sense and spirit of compromise.

I think ol' Barney might be going away for a long time. Heck, the Feds (or the Canadians) haven't even charged him with anything yet and have probable cause to hang several more felony charges on him. What those morons did was unexcusable. But the attitudes that fermented to inspire this attack, that underlying "we been screwed" on the part of the local rednecks and the holier-than-thou attitude of the urban 'environmentalists', need to be addressed, discussed, and modified. Or you can be sure that stuff like this will continue to occur, perhaps with worse results than even this incident.


Ranger Bob said...

The feds are normally unresponsive about making these rules common sense friendly and some poor ranger is stuck enforcing them, which tends to aggravate people even more.

Heh. That would be me.

As someone who spent roughly three-quarters of his NPS career in law enforcement, and nearly all of that in parks with unusually sensitive community relations situations, I feel fairly well-qualified in saying that you've written some very perceptive analysis here.

Would be curious, though, as to which specific "stupid and aggravating administrative rules" you've encountered at Apostle Islands. Not saying there aren't any; quite the contrary, I'm wondering if you will identify the same ones that bother me.

DaveO said...

My main beef with the Apostles is the 'wilderness' designation and its implications. Seems like a convenient way to cheap out on any improvements or efficiencies in handling the kayak, motor, and sail visitors to the area, an area (as you well know) that has been heavily used by humans for centuries. Removing or letting historic structures and facilities to to hell is not a positive step in my humble opinion. Plenty of more egregious rules in the other mentioned areas however.

Ranger Bob said...

Once again, right on the money.

All I can tell you, as part of the Wilderness planning team, is it could have been a lot worse. There was tremendous pressure - from zealots within the agency, and from outside groups like the Wilderness Society - to designate more acreage than the 80-something percent of the park that finally shook out.

We received literally thousands of identically worded letters from people who had never been within 500 miles of Lake Superior, demanding that every available acre be designated as wilderness. Without wilderness status, they were convinced, the NPS would be rushing to install golf courses and ski lifts.

The whole business really opened my eyes to the cynical manipulation practiced by some of the big name environmental groups. There is no question in my mind that the people behind the ""ACTION ALERT - APOSTLE ISLANDS AT RISK OF DEVELOPMENT" bulletins knew exactly what they were doing. They just know that generating X-thousand letters is a great way to show off their muscle, and that the more acres of wilderness they can claim credit for in their annual reports, the more they'll impress their donors and members.

In the end, I have to keep reminding myself that getting Sand, Basswood, and Long Islands excluded from wilderness was quite a victory under the circumstances.

Kristen said...

Having once sat in on a Sierra Club meeting where a particular "spot" was being discussed as to what would be the club's stand on it, I was disappointed when someone asked if anyone had actually seen the site and assessed it's current usage... no, they all replied, but we're voting and campaigning that it should be wilderness anyway.

DaveO said...

Wait a minute, are you guys claiming you've never been to the Arctic National Wildfife Refuge??

bwca said...

Lakners date keeps being pushed back, and now won't be heard again till June: