State and federal officials in Arizona are fighting just the latest skirmish in a long-running war over just how restrictive rules should be over human use of forest and desert areas. The locals want fewer and uniform restrictions, while their D.C. counterparts like to play "What will we cite people for this week?" with campers, hunters, and pretty much anybody who likes the outdoors. The most recent battle is over a federal rule-switch, requiring hunters to move their camps every 72 hours. Decades-long practice, as the Arizona Game and Fish Department points out, is to allow campers to stay in place for 14 days.
The federal government’s arrogance informs everything it does when it comes to relations with the state governments, which it regards as nothing more than its administrative subordinates.
Reason copies a press release issued by the U.S. Forest Service, demonstrating the official disregard for state authority to legislate within its own sovereign boundaries. The announcement reads:
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 reserving 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 forest for this purpose violates Forest Service regulations. If trailers are left unattended for more than 72 hours, the Forest Service considers them abandoned property and may remove them from the forest. Violators can also be cited for this action. Enforcing these regulations protects the property and allows recreational users equal access to national forests.
This regulation applies to all national forests in northern Arizona, including the Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott forests.
There’s a big problem with this edict, however. It violates the “long-standing policy” of the Grand Canyon State regarding the regulation of camping in its expansive wilderness area.
Arizona's director of Game and Fish tried explaining this to his would-be overlords, in what Reason describes as a “very nice letter.” State official Larry D. Voyles writes:
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Photo of Coconino National Forest in Arizona