'Militia woman' is fighting for her rights

  Dear HCN,

I read with interest your March 13 article about Jim Catron, "The Last Celtic Warlord lives in New Mexico" - which leads the reader to believe he is some kind of hero of the West. Many of us here in Catron County see it otherwise. We see him as a pompous, hot-headed little banty rooster, who seems to keep Catron County and our county commissioners in hot water all the time with one lawsuit after another. He is for local government all right, as long as it conforms to his wishes. His form of government is not of the people by the people, but by the government for the government. More aptly put, he believes in law, written by lawyers, for the lawyers' benefit only.

A good friend of mine was referred to in the article as being a "militia woman," whose property the so-called "county road" runs through. Myrtle Sweazie Cox has absolutely been mistreated, lied to and her private property has been taken from her with no compensation from our local government officials. The implication that "armed-to-the-teeth militia members' have invaded Catron County is ludicrous. Myrtle Cox is a strong, independent, 84-years-young rancher who still lives and makes her living on the very land her father homesteaded here in Catron County. I am one of the "jury of like-minded people" who stands behind Myrtle and feels she has been persecuted by Jim Catron. I am one of the "looney tunes' Jim referred to. I am a fifth-generation rancher/outfitter whose family on both sides were homesteaders in northwestern Colorado and I believe in a government of the people by the people and despise heavy-handed, top-down officials and crooked lawyers. I would debate Jim Catron any day of the week on who is more patriotic.

We here in Catron County, including Jim Catron, are all battling the extremist enviros and the liberal Clinton/Gore/Babbitt administration's move to stop all consumptive uses on the public land and the mandated multiple-use concept of managing these public lands. So far we are losing big time. The spotted owl has wiped out our logging industry, the ranchers on the public land here are going out fast due to multiple endangered species, and now with the translocation of the wolves into the Gila National Forest this winter, the hunting industry will go by the wayside also. Catron County, New Mexico, and the Gila have become one of the premier destinations of the trophy elk hunter and the hunting industry has taken up much of the slack in our local economy. It, too, faces a very uncertain future. I guess the West will be just for bird watchers, wolf howlers and backpackers.

Tom Klumker
Glenwood, New Mexico