MONTROSE — A public lands advocate and local radio commentator has been arrested by federal authorities for tearing down an access gate along the Cushman Creek Trail near Olathe.
Gunnison resident David Justice, 57, also known as Stanley Hugh Anderson, appeared in U.S. District court in Grand Junction Friday, July 25, to face one felony count of willful destruction of government property.
His indictment stated that more than a year ago, on July 21, 2013, Justice “did willfully injure and commit a depredation against property of the United States, and did aid, abet, counsel, command, induce and procure its commission, on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, specifically, at a location known as Cushman Creek Trail.”
Justice — along with others — used pickup trucks, chains and crowbars to remove a series of barricades on the trail last summer in a protest of the federal government’s control of public access to public lands.
A few days following the July 2013 protest, Justice wrote an op-ed piece on the Mesa County Patriots Facebook page explaining his actions, dubbing the forceable reopening of Cushman Creek Trail was needed “to call attention to a dangerous precedent being set; a perceptibly all-powerful federal government is using public lands as collateral to finance its insatiable appetite for global colonization, and under the ruse of environmentalism, is stirring dissent among and dividing the people by limiting access to public lands by the illegal taking and occupation of county roads.”
Justice said the authority to close the road rests within Montrose County administration, not the Bureau of Land Management or any federal authority, and that federal agencies were acting beyond their authority when by closing the road, preventing public access to the trail.
“Roads are one means used by the People to access public lands. Closing and destroying traditionally used backcountry roads is a peculiar form of management, yet the People thus far have, by and large, accepted this ongoing travesty being committed by the Forest Service and the BLM,” Justice wrote. “These Roads belong to the People, and the people’s power to and sovereign right over them is clearly spelled out and protected by Montrose County Resolution 29-2000, as well as both State, and federal laws. However, the BLM and Forest Service agencies, being pressured by global and other special interest groups operating under the guise of “environmentalism,” have been usurping and continues to usurp the sovereignty of the People of Colorado … and yet, the People have remained silent and passive.”
According to the indictment, the BLM put the cost of damages at $1,000.
Following the July 2013 incident, the BLM and the U.S. Attorney’s Office initiated an investigation that led to the indictment and July 24, 2014 arrest of Justice, without incident, by the BLM, FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service (he appeared in court the next day).
Justice is a weekly contributor to the KUBC radio station in Montrose. A call to KUBC seeking comment about Justice and his involvement with the radio station moving forward was not returned.
Watch phone calls to Justice have not been returned.
Following Friday’s court appearance, Justice posted a $5,000 unsecured bond; in a television interview with 9News outside the courthouse Justice defended his actions.
“It’s challenging what I believe is gross overstep (and) abuse of federal power,” Justice told 9News. “This is a great nonviolent way to protest and curtail the enlargement and expansion of federal powers where it does not belong.”
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison, plus fines of up to $250,000, and up to three years of probation.
Justice is scheduled for a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Denver Monday, Sept. 22, at 8:30 a.m.