[cdt-l] More Frank Sinatra in the Bootheel

RICHARD MALLERY dickebird at gmail.com
Thu Jan 18 09:05:09 CST 2007

I'm still in a debating mood. I guess the key word here is trespass. I am
still not sure that I was trespassing. I will outline exactly what I did
before starting the hike and you tell me what I did wrong besides finally
throwing up my hands and doing my hike. It started out in my optimistic
little mind as an informational quest for what I figured would be simple
answers to simple questions. As it turned out the first 60 miles of my hike
planning became a labyrinth of bureaucracy, both public and private. In the
course of a year I tried to communicate with the following: Bruce Ward of
CDTA, CDTS, BLM, Forest Service, Border Patrol, the State of New Mexico,

Hildalgo County, Animas Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, The Malpai
Borderlands Group, Drummond Hadley and Bob Julyan. I did hear from everyone
but Bruce, Borderlands, Drummond and the Conservancy. Unfortunately I didn't
receive any pieces to the puzzle from any of them. I then began calling. I
talked to a field agent Padilla with the managing BLM office. I only
remember that name because in 1968 my drill instructors name was Padilla.
You never forget your drill instructor. Agent Padilla, not unlike my calls
to the state, forest service and border patrol could tell me nothing. I
found the title to the land very cloudy. Somewhere in the mix of Gray Ranch,
Animas Foundation, Nature Conservancy and The Malpai Borderlands Group was
owner, heir to Anhieser-Busch, cowboy poet Drummond Hadley. I like cowboy
poetry so I wrote Mr. Hadley. I figured why not go right to the CEO if you
have a problem, then work down the ranks from there. Never heard from
Drummond. My calls to the Foundation were met with no information and ended
in rude "Clicks." It was actually so bizarre that I thought maybe I was on
to something. Maybe the bootheel is really Area 51 and Area 51 is a decoy. I
spent more time planning the bootheel than I did the other 3,000 miles of
the trek. Not because I wanted to, but because it became a challenge not
unlike the trail itself. When I finally arrived to begin the hike I camped
in the chiricahua mountains on the Arizona side in one of my favorite
campgrounds and went looking for the Elegant trogan. In my spare time I
visited the local land authorities, Forest Service, BLM and Border Patrol. I
came up with names of many other bureaucrats to call. No one could talk
about it. I finally did get one FS employee to tell me where the Animas
Foundation/Gray Ranch operation was. I drove 20 miles down the Animas road,
found it and talked to Dr. Brown face-to-face. He was rude in the fact that
he felt I needed to hear nothing more than "NO" and then went back to his

These are just the highlights I remember. I was actually intrigued by the
whole thing and I can remember my wife saying, "How much time are you going
to spend studying 60 miles of this trail?" If it is actually private land it
seems it would be fairly easy for the Foundation to lay it out for anyone
asking in the form of a map showing their private landholdings. They prefer
the brick wall approach because they know they do not

really control the bootheel. The bottom line for me after all this
informational digging was that I could legally cross the bootheel. If I was
trespassing it was only because the rightful owner could not or would not
show me what he owned or did not own, what he leased or did not lease, what
government roads did or did not cross his holdings. I can also say with some
certainty that they all knew I was out there and did not stop me--in my
opinion because they had no legal right to stop me. The Border Patrol flew
low over me three times before I ever reached I-10. I'm not that hard to get
along with. I didn't cross the Jicarrea Res. I know they have clear title. I
didn't here from them either and went around.

As Mr. Ward says, "Bottom line for us is we work with our land managers
partners and local individuals and organizations to build support for the
Trail. If we can win the hearts and minds of those who live and work near
the Trail we will have a shot at completing this national treasure. If we
alienate them there will be no Trail."

I am in full agreement and spent much sweat equity in trying to do just
that. In my case, he and all those land managers were the problem and not
the solution. I am not sure that is still not the case. Slander me if you
like for asking the hard questions, but I am not yet ready to give up MY
PROPERTY RIGHTS. The legal ramifications of this thing you call trespass in
the bootheel is no different than Mr. Herberg's backyard. It is land title.
If you cannot show or demonstrate clear title you cannot control your dirt.
So what is it? The Animas Foundation can't show legal right to the property,
they are too lazy to show legal right to the property, they are above the
law, they have several land management agencies on the payroll, their
bluffing to keep as many people from crossing as possible. I'm still
curious. If you show me a detailed map of ownership (what is owned, leased,
government right-of-way, public access road, national forest,
state--whatever) and I can't find a legal way across I will gladly choose
another route. Don't ask me to roll over and play dead while Bruce Ward
schmooses all the land managers. I am not apposed to routing away from the
Divide proper for legal, social or geographical reasons, but I ain't going
through Arkansas.

I am very interested in information about this piece of real estate. If you
have any please share it. The question of crossing the bootheel is going to
come up every season as more and more LDH's discover this incredible trail
and decide to spend part of a year exploring it. It might be in the CDTA's
interest to spend some time and money doing a thorough title search and
putting the question of what is legal to cross and what is not to rest.
Otherwise you risk dealing with people like me who think they are
shareholders in land owned by the United States Government, elbowing their
way through, stirring up cowpie dust and tearing down the false facade that
scares most hikers from walking on their own land.

Sorry Ben, I know you want your troll word back, but it belongs to me now.
-Keep Smilin', Dick E. Bird the Troll.
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