Sunday, April 19, 2015

Families Evicted, Homes Burned to the Ground by USFS

In 1990, Pulitzer Prize-nominated broadcaster and journalist, Shann Nix, wrote an article about the plight of miners living along the Salmon River in Northern California. At the time, Nixx was a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle.

The article, which ran in the newspaper on May 18th, 1990 was entitled Hardscrabble Miners Make Their Last Stand – Forest Service Evicts Families, Razes Homes. The article makes for a heart-breaking read. (We're hoping that the rights to this article have reverted back to Ms. Nix and are working on permission to reprint it in its entirety.) 

[Note: Shann Nix responded to our request and told us she would have been happy to let us reprint her article, one that is so close to her heart, but unfortunately her former employer, the San Francisco Chronicle, still owns the rights to the piece.]

Nix interviewed miners and their families who had been evicted by the USFS (United States Forest Service,) who proceeded to burn down their cabins, leaving some of them homeless, with nothing, penniless without their claims to mine on, and with nowhere in the world to go. They even invited them all to a Town Hall Meeting where the miners and their families requested a moratorium on the burning of their homes, and whilst they were occupied, talking with the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, armed USFS employees burned down yet another home. They even bulldozed the rose bushes and burned the beautiful fruit trees that surrounded the house. With their Sadism knowing no bounds, they even ordered people to burn down their own homes, under the threat of arrest, fines and imprisonment.

There is NOWHERE that any LAW allows them to do this.

These land management agencies, be it USFS, or BLM, or whomever else, are simply lawless. They are nothing more than criminals. They commit arson, property destruction, and yes, even (alleged) murder, in the name of, well, in the name of NOTHING, except their own out-of-control egos and institutional arrogance.

Why is this tolerated by their superiors? Why? How can this be allowed to happen? Time and time again, over and over? How can they be allowed, by the government of this country, to act as they wish, regardless of the law, regardless of even their own regulations, and with impunity?

Is there anybody, anywhere who can answer these questions?

These guys (below) would know the answer, and no doubt, that answer would be because we can.

The following are quotes from Shann Nix's article -

“Every time the Forest Service removes a structure or a family, it's one less to deal with. And the big operations pay big bucks...We started to burn obviously abandoned fire-hazard type cabins with the permission of the owner, then it seemed to accelerate among the Forest Service guys. Who can burn more Cabins? Then it turned into a race. Before the public picked up on it, we had lost 25 – 30 structures. Then we started to plan it. We started to kick people out, so we could burn the cabins. I burned down cabins myself.” - Matt Olson (Retired USFS employee)

“Society's becoming more sophisticated. The frontier spirit is outdated...We want larger, more efficient [mining] operations...We don't find these homesteaders consistent with today's standards of mining...Who decides what defines a full-time operation? I do. There are no written guidelines.”
- Mike Lee (Retired USFS District Ranger)

What is most disgusting about Mike Lee's statements is the fact that his own heritage is MINING! Check out the quote below, from Lee, taken from an interview which was part of the USFS Oral History Project, and conducted by Janet Buzzini.

“I was third generation Chinese to be born in Nevada County. My great-grandparents came to
Nevada County during the mining years, and my grandfather had a restaurant there, and my
father and my uncles and a lot of people worked in the mines.” - Mike Lee (Retired USFS District Ranger)

Those who have committed these crimes against hard-working, honest, generous people, in the name of absolutely NOTHING, and for no reason, other than they could because nobody ever stopped them, are an absolute disgrace to their families, to their government, and to their country – the country they have helped to destroy.

God bless America. May she rest in peace.

Hardscrabble Miners Make Their Last Stand by Shann Nix. (First published in San Francisco Chronicle 18th May, 1990.) [Not available online.]

USFS Oral History Project – Index of Interview Transcripts :

District Ranger Mike Lee (Retired) – USFS Oral History Interview – direct link :

1 comment:

  1. Life is a battle, if you don't know how to defend yourself then you'll end up being a loser. So, better take any challenges as your stepping stone to become a better person. Have fun, explore and make a lot of memories.


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