DNR chief urges group to behave like another

By Steve Korris | Apr 24, 2009


ELKINS – State Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro declares in federal court that if Constitution Party members want park rangers to treat them the way they treat Friends of Blackwater Canyon, they should behave like Friends of Blackwater Canyon.

Lawyers for Jezioro contrasted the conduct of the groups in an April 17 brief opposing the party's bid to circulate petitions at the annual National Hunting and Fishing Days in Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park.

They identified Judy Rodd, of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, as the individual who complained to park personnel about the party's petitioning.

Party leaders Denzil Sloan and Jeff Becker sued Jezioro in U.S. district court at Elkins after rangers stopped their activity at the event in 2007.

Sloan and Becker argued that the state couldn't bar them from the event while allowing Friends of Blackwater Canyon to participate.

Jezioro's brief argued that no one barred them.

"Plaintiffs offer no substantive evidence that proves the defendant told the plaintiffs, generally or specifically, that they could never come to the National Hunting and Fishing Days event or any other events," Keith Gamble of Morgantown wrote.

He wrote that they didn't submit a vendor registration form or comply with the policy for exhibitors and presenters.

He wrote that they "appeared of their own accord improperly."

He wrote that Friends of Blackwater Canyon contacted the Division of Natural Resources and requested permission to attend the event.

He wrote that Friends of Blackwater Canyon displayed brochures and pamphlets, sold t-shirts, painted faces and raffled off a fishing kit.

"All of the above items and actions of Blackwater conformed to the purpose and policy of National Hunting and Fishing Days," he wrote.

He wrote that Rodd "contacted an unknown DNR employee and complained to him how these gentlemen would stop people in the crowd and try to solicit signatures."

He offered Rodd's action as evidence that party members disrupted the event.

"Defendants are not sure if the plaintiffs were actually aware of the spirit and purpose of the National Hunting and Fishing Days or chose to ignore the same," he wrote. "It is clear, however, that the petitioning activities of the plaintiffs were certainly inconsistent with park activities on that date and time."

Event officials might have registered them, he wrote, if they offered activities that related to hunting, fishing or wildlife.

He wrote that regulations give DNR a right to control parks and state land.

"To suggest that the DNR has no right to limit or require that permission be sought to use such land, is to invite wholesale chaos to state parks," he wrote.

Gamble challenged the party's assertion that the event was open to the public, arguing that everyone paid an admission fee.

David Holtzapfel also put his name on the brief. He and Gamble practice with Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe in Morgantown.

Joseph Wallace and John Wallace of Elkins represent the Constitution Party.

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