In August of 2003, three Jamestown residents cut down 376 trees and dug deep trenches across USFS roads to block entrance to LHOHV via CR 87J. One man was prosecuted for this crime but the roads were never reopened.
When the Boulder Daily Camera, Longmont Times-Call and the Denver Post were bought by Prairie Mountain Publishing, the archives were nuked so we don’t have the originals and the dates are fuzzy. The following articles were posted on various internet forums.
Landowners block path of off-roaders
By Trevor Hughes/Longmont Daily Times-Call
JAMESTOWN – Two men used their construction equipment to block Forest Service roads in the Lefthand Canyon area to prevent 4×4 drivers from entering their property, according to complaint filed by the U.S. Forest Service late Friday.
Dean Sapp, Quinter Fike and his son Marshal Fike agreed they would block the roads because they were sick of the damage being caused by off-roaders, said Forest Service investigator Kim Jones in a report. Marshal Fike and Sapp did the work, Jones said.
On Sept. 6, 2003, Forest Service rangers discovered someone had knocked down 376 trees and gouged large trenches across two roads above the Lefthand Canyon Off-Highway Vehicle Area. Someone also posted “No Trespassing” signs on the public lands, causing an estimated $81,980 in damage. According to Jones’ investigation, Sapp and the Fikes knew they were damaging federal property and had planned to close the roads earlier in the summer. The Sapps and Fikes own private property within the National Forest, and public roads lead from the forest onto their land.
“Dean Sapp said that on Friday, Aug. 22, 2003, he and Marshall Fike were working on the private road to their properties when they decided to close off the Forest System roads,” Jones said. “The trees were felled and the trenches were dug for the purpose of closing the Forest System roads to OHVs, including Jeeps, ATVs and motorcycles.” Only Sapp has been charged in the case, for causing damage to government property. The punishment for that crime ranges from 3 years of supervised release to 10 years in jail, with fines from $100 to $250,000.
Dirtbike rider and software engineer Todd Blachowiak was the first person to report the damage.
“When we saw it, we just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was so much damage. We were in shock. There were all sorts of signs posted in areas we had previously ridden. That’s one of the reasons I called the Forest Service.”
Blachowiak said he can understand why private landowners would be upset at the off-road community, especially before the Forest Service that summer installed signs, maps and barriers to keep users on existing, legal roads and trails.
“The Forest Service had done such great work up there getting trails marked,” he said. “It upset me that the people who did this couldn’t work this out with the Forest Service. The big thing is that nobody knew what the boundaries were. It was a free-for-all.”
The Forest Service has been increasing its level of oversight of the popular Lefthand OHV area since last year, largely due to user conflicts and the widespread damage caused by vehicles driving off designated roads and through streams.
Sapp, 56, could not be reached Monday. His phone number is unlisted, and he is only identified in the report by a U.S. Post Office box. Neither Quinter nor Marshall Fike returned phone calls Monday evening. Public access to the area is now prohibited due to the Overland Fire damage.
In case of downed trees, investigator has suspect in mind
Destruction occurred near Jamestown around Labor Day
By Chris Barge/Boulder Daily Camera – October 22, 2003
JAMESTOWN — A U.S. Forest Service investigator says she knows who knocked over more than 100 ponderosa and lodgepole pines around Labor Day and dug trenches into a dirt road popular among off-road vehicle enthusiasts.
Kim Jones, special agent for the Forest Service, said a landowner in the area brought heavy equipment into the forest to cause the damage. The felled trees and trenches continue to block three roads as they cross onto a cluster of private properties leading up to Fairview Peak.
Jones, who helped determine the cause of the 2002 Hayman fire, was assigned to investigate the destruction after off-roaders reported that one of the roads they have used for years looked like it had been hit by a hurricane.
Jones said the damage resulted from long-standing conflicts between private property owners in the area and off-roaders who use roads that cut across those private properties.
“I have gotten some cooperation, and it’s not necessarily a mystery,” Jones said. “I have identified who is responsible.”
She declined to name the suspect.
Officials have said that while they suspect the damage occurred on Forest Service property rather than private land, they are still investigating.
“There may or may not be a crime,” Jones said.
The forest vandalism comes just as the Forest Service ramps up an involved public process that will determine a first-ever travel management plan for the area.
“It’s nice — you’ve got your own little piece of heaven up there,” Jones said. “But there are many uses for a national forest, so conflicts take place.”
The area is about three miles uphill from Boulder County’s most popular off-road trailhead on Lefthand Canyon Road. On busy summer weekends, officials estimate that as many as 150 people drive the web of rocky trails at once in four-wheel drives, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles.
Up at Forest Road 288, near the intersection with Forest Road 286 and County Road 87J, the road turns into a football field’s worth of destruction. The trees, some of which were more than 100 years old, lie across the road, uprooted or snapped at their trunks by heavy equipment.
Every 10 yards, the road lies trenched by gaping holes the size of a cabin’s basement.
Longtime Jamestown resident Leon Hill said that while he has not personally seen the blockage and had nothing to do with it, he supports the destruction.
“It’s my understanding that (the road) crosses private property, and it’s illegal,” he said. “My hat’s off to whoever did that.”
Hill said he has spent too much time running off-road vehicles off his property in the 22 years he has owned land up there.
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want them up there because there’s too many bad apples in the barrel,” he said.
Hill and other landowners in the area said they have grown frustrated by the Forest Service’s unwillingness to reclaim roads originally built as fire breaks during a 1988 fire of nearly 3,000 acres that threatened to swallow Jamestown.
Boulder Ranger District senior ranger Christine Walsh said she is researching whether the roads cut off by the blockages were created originally as fire breaks.
She added that while the Forest Service plans to stabilize the soils around the blockages to prevent erosion this winter, clearing the trees and filling in the trenches would take far more work and heavy equipment. She called that task “much more optional.”
Whether the roads blocked by the trees are official public roads, even though they have been used as a connection to higher off-road trails, remains in question, according to Forest Service officials.
Many off-roaders are adamant that the roads are public and must remain open.
“By Colorado state law, that’s a public road that crosses private property,” said Adam Mehlberg, secretary of the Trail Ridge Runners, a 47-member four-wheel-drive club based in Longmont. “I know the private property owners have an issue, but that’s not the way to take care of it.”
For now, the area beyond the felled trees, which tops out with a view at Fairview Peak, is off the table for off-road vehicles because of the extensive destruction.
Jones said she still needs to establish a value for the damage and collect information from witnesses before turning the case over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Most important, she said, she must determine whether the vandalism occurred on national forest property.
Last week, Boulder Ranger District officials met to set the course for developing a travel management plan for the area, which could take years.
Walsh estimates that extensive off-roading in the area, combined with target shooting at the trailhead, has resulted in $5 million to $10 million worth of damage. However, the Forest Service has turned an almost blind eye to the problem for the past 20 years due to a lack of resources, she said.
Meanwhile, off-highway vehicle registrations have spiked 800 percent in Colorado since 1990.
“This is among the most intensely used OHV areas in the country, especially by motorized users,” Walsh said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Contact Chris Barge at (303) 473-1389 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charges filed in forest destruction
By Brittany Anas/Boulder Daily Camera
A Boulder County man accused of snapping and uprooting hundreds of trees to stop off-roaders from tearing through forest land is scheduled to appear in federal court later this month.
The U.S. District Attorney`s Office filed charges late last month against Marshal Fike, 42, for his suspected role in the massive destruction of Arapaho and Roosevelt national forest land near his property in the Jamestown area in September 2003.
The damage totaled more than $80,000. An investigator with the U.S. Forest Service reported that Fike and Dean Sapp, who also owns land near Jamestown, toppled roughly 400 trees and used heavy equipment to dig trenches across dirt roads.
The damaged area was roughly the size of a football field.
The federal case against Sapp for damaging federal property closed in June 2004, court records show. He was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and 50 hours of community service, according to records.
Fike is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 27.
The misdemeanor theft-of-government-property charge that Fike faces can carry one year of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, court records show.
But Fike`s attorney, Mitch Baker, said he has worked a plea deal out with federal prosecutors.
Those terms include one year of probation and a $12,000 fine, he said.
“It’s an unusual case,” Baker said. “The circumstances were unusual. No one was vandalizing property for the sake of being a pest.”
Off-roaders and motorcyclists riding through the forested area have eroded and destroyed the land, Baker said.
The 2003 damage is about 3 miles uphill from Boulder County`s most popular off-road trailhead, on Lefthand Canyon Road.
“If they had been passing through our front yards, we wouldn’t be happy,” Baker said.
Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney`s Office, declined to comment on the plea arrangement.
By B.J. Plasket/Longmont Daily Times-Call
DENVER – A Jamestown man will serve a year of probation for his role in the August 2003 cutting of 376 trees in the Arapaho National Forest near Jamestown in western Boulder County.
Dean Sapp, 56, will also have to perform 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor trespassing charge as part of a plea agreement under which he agreed to cooperate with authorities in the prosecution of others involved in the incident.
U.S. Forest Service Officer Melinda Jones earlier said Sapp – along with neighbors Marshal Fike and Quinter Fike – used heavy equipment to cut down the trees and dig several 20-foot to 30-foot trenches along a road used by off-road enthusiasts in the national forest.
Jones’ report said the three had become frustrated by incursions from off-road vehicles near their rural homes.
U.S. Magistrate Boyd Boland, in sentencing Sapp earlier this month, placed him on one year of unsupervised probation and ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service arranged through the town of Jamestown.
Sapp was not fined and was not ordered to pay restitution for the estimated $81,000 in damage to the land and trees. In an earlier hearing, federal prosecutor James Mackey said, “There are restitution issues, but not necessarily involving Mr. Sapp.”
Forest Service officials said the episode caused $43,000 in damage to trees and $38,000 in damage to the land.
In announcing that Sapp would cooperate in the prosecution of others in the case, Mackey said, ?This is an open investigation, and there are other people we think are involved. Mr. Sapp has agreed to cooperate.
Jeff Dorschner, the spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Suthers, on Wednesday declined to comment on possible additional charges in the case, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Neither Marshal Fike nor Quinter Fike has yet been charged in the incident.