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El Dorado Sheriff's Fight With Feds Likely Over Residents Carrying Guns

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — The fight that has the El Dorado County sheriff planning to revoke a federal agency's enforcement power in his county is apparently over residents' rights to carry guns.

Cory Ward is an avid outdoorsman who frequents the El Dorado National forest. But he's concerned this paradise could turn into a police state.

"I have felt intimidated," he said.

He's got a long list of complaints against federal officers who patrol the forest.

"They want to know what you're doing here, where you're going, do you have any firearms on board."

It appears this exploding confrontation between Sheriff John D'Agostini and the U.S. Forest service may come down to guns, and the right to carry them, and whether U.S. citizens are allowed to bring them onto federal land.

The sheriff's department says they've received more than 50 complaints from people just out enjoying the woods when they were stopped by an overly aggressive forest service officer.

Some of these experiences have been posted on Internet chat rooms with people demanding the sheriff get involved.

And last week, he pulled the federal officers' powers to enforce state laws in his jurisdiction, effective July 22.

A U.S. Forest Service spokesman said the agency met with the sheriff Wednesday to try and work out their differences.

"It hasn't happened anywhere else in this state," said John Heil. "We hope that the relationship will continue and we will look for ways to improve."

But as for Cory, he just wants to enjoy the forest without fearing the feds.

"This is your land, this is my land, this is everybody's land," he said, "And we don't want to come here anymore."

The forest service said it will affect the seven forest service officers who patrol the area, though they'll still be able to enforce federal laws and restrictions.

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