Letter from PCU 7/30/95
PEOPLE FOR COMPASSION AND UNDERSTANDING
PO Box 6625 - Chicago, IL 60680
30 July 1995
PCU // Freedom of Assembly Project
Mr. James R. Lyons, Under Secretary
RE: Final "Group Use" Rules
USDA / Natural Resources & Environment
Administration Building - Room 217E
14th & Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
Your May 12 letter did not arrive until early June, when it was
transmitted to me from our allied address in Washington. Since then I have
been traveling, camping, and "off the grid"... please don't mistake this delay
In light of the substantial information we have provided
over the past
two years, your response is alarmingly uninformed. As an answer
to our formal
appeals, it begs the question entirely: It is inadequate and
Our materials set forth hard facts and analysis on the "Group
"Law Enforcement" rulemakings, the effects of proposed and de
on the Bill of Rights and the future of Public Land, and why the
Service must change its course.
Perhaps you should read them again, with comprehension.
Just like those wacky OGC lawyers, your logic bears the
clear mark of
"Bureaucratic NewThink" -- leaning on a truism to justify a
Yes..." ...The Forest Service has a statutory obligation to
occupancy and use on NFS lands and to protect forest resources."
Not an issue, Jim... no sense waving the Mandate of the Forest
Service as a
rationale for this rulemaking. First of all, that is not enough;
is no basis for a wild proposition about some "long-standing
principle that a
permit is required for noncommercial group use of NFS lands."
Let us be clear on our premises:
The Forest Service cannot "reinstate [a] long-standing
does not exist:
True... The Forest Service has sought repeatedly to impose a
ment for "noncommercial group use of NFS lands" as a matter of
policy -- and
to enforce such strictures de facto by unlawful exercises of
The proposed rules would write these authorities into the Federal
Code for the
first time, creating new government controls with precedents
through all levels of American Law.
In fact the only "long-standing principle" to be upheld is
assembly on public land may not be infringed:
This is a right retained by Americans under the Constitution, not
'privilege' to be granted or denied by government officials.
The environmental pretexts of such powers may sound benign and
noble, but the
Forest Service has failed to show any need: There is no rational
these regulations; defining Free Assembly as a "Special Use" does
the facts, nor does it obviate the Bill of Rights. This is the
Where no compelling government interest is shown, it is
unconstitutional for government agencies even to hold such
authorities in the
law: As the court observed in United States v. Rainbow Family
294, E.D. Tex. 1988), "The 'very possibility of abuse' will
regulation requiring a permit for expressive activity." [at
Niemotko v. Maryland, 340 U.S. 268, 272 (1951)]
By definition, Citizens do not need permission from the
exercise First Amendment freedoms of assembly, expression, and
By definition, Fourth Amendment protections extend to these
public land, not to be impeded by enforcement under false
Let's Get Real: Similar rules have been struck down twice
courts; the big question is why they keep coming back, and this
is a matter of
policy: When asked about this, a high-placed official in the
General Council asserted that "We don't think the courts can tell
us how to
run the agency."
This is the attitude of a Cult of Control in the government
that is out of
control. In fact there is a long legacy of actions -- at
headquarters and in
the field -- reflecting high-placed, entrenched convictions that
Service is above the Law. This cannot continue.
And think again about that "statutory obligation... to
Historically the Agency's environmental record is grim. Now
they claim to
be "Reinventing the Forest Service", with grand jargon on saving
and serving the public; yet the incentives are more about
serving "customers". We see that the Forest Service has been
politicized, infused with ideology and positioned to parley off
and resources for votes and revenues.
Federal forest management practices are playing into a huge
system. In effect, the 'Group Use' rule is a government land
grab to preempt
Where the Forest Service fails to act in the long-term
interests of the
National Forests, it is the Peoples' right and obligation to
stewardship on Public Land.
The will and capacity for this has been demonstrated time and
Public gatherings have upheld a high environmental standard, and
evolving toward more active projects in land reclamation.
In this light, preserving Free Assembly is the best way to assure
natural heritage will be preserved for future generations.
The draft 'Group Use' rule is under review at the Office of
and Budget, but in the chain of procedure and command, the final
yours. Please realize how decisive this is, and all that is at
For the sake of our "legacy of Land and Liberty", put a stop
rulemaking, shut down the bureaucratic goose-stepping, and move
policy into accord with First and Fourth Amendment Rights.
We have called for cooperation, and this would be good
Our substantial information and critique deserve substantial
Your genuine reconsiderations are needed and awaited.
For Peace on the Land,
Scott C. Addison -- PCU Volunteer
cc: Office of Management & Budget
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