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Old 05-29-2012   #1
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 818
RRFW Riverwire – ATVs Coming to Your Favorite Wilderness Area

RRFW Riverwire – ATVs Coming to Your Favorite Wilderness Area
May 29, 2012

The misleadingly-named “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” has wilderness-busting provisions that could be coming to any and all of America’s wilderness areas.

“It’s possibly the biggest threat to this nation’s wilderness areas since the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964,” says Tom Martin, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness, “even long time wilderness defenders who thought they’d seen it all are shocked.”

HR4089 is a combination of 4 previous bills. Although there are many debatable elements, the worst allows what were previously illegal activities to now occur in all areas managed as wilderness under the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and all of the nation’s Federal land agencies.

Among activities that could be allowed are ATV use, new road construction, mining, logging and the construction of fixed structures. In fact, the most dangerous element of this bill is that it gives managers a blank check to allow any activities they construe as beneficial to sportsmen.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and a Senate Companion Bill S2066 has been introduced with supporters such as the National Rifle Association and sports industry groups urging a quick passage.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a branch of the Library of Congress that provides in depth analysis to members of Congress and others, outlined the threats in a recent review of the proposal. The CRS noted that the bill’s “..language could be construed as opening wilderness areas to virtually any activity related to hunting and fishing, even if otherwise inconsistent with wilderness values. Despite the Wilderness Act’s explicit ban on temporary and permanent roads, if H.R. 4089 were passed, roads arguably could be constructed in wilderness areas…”

The report also noted that “…while it appears that timber harvest could be allowed, it would seem difficult to harvest timber without roads or machines.” The entire CRS’ brief (4 page) memo is on the River Runners for Wilderness website at http://rrfw.org/sites/default/files/CRSreport.pdf

The wilderness destroying language in this bill could easily be omitted before final passage and we urge you to take action to insist that this is done: Contact your state’s Senators and ask that they not support S2066 and to protect all provisions of The Wilderness Act.

You are also encouraged to contact lobbying supporters of HR4089 & S2066, such as the National Rifle Association at their website, particularly if you are a member: https://www.nraila.org/secure/contact-us.aspx and let them know that you support the Wilderness Act as written.

You are also encouraged to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. National media has largely ignored these bills and you could be instrumental in raising awareness of the threat.

Another easy action is to sign Wilderness Watch’s on-line petition at Change.org: http://www.change.org/petitions/unit...sage-of-the-sp ortmen-s-heritage-act-of-2012-2?share_id=lQyHyXbCvPpe=pce. Please note that RRFW does not endorse any other petitions that may be presented to the site’s visitors.

To learn more about the threats posed by this legislation, visit: Wilderness Watch’s analysis: http://www.wildernesswatch.org/pdf/H...alysis--WW.pdf.

Other advocacy group sites include: A sneak attack on wilderness: Legislation that hurts backcountry sportsmen looms in the U.S. Senate | The Wilderness Society and Time to Stop HR 4089 in its Tracks – Conservation Lands Foundation.

Surveys show that wilderness enjoys very broad support by our country’s citizens and should be protected. River Runners for Wilderness will keep you apprised of this looming disaster for our country’s precious wilderness lands.

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Old 05-29-2012   #2
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,436
Jeez, I hate it when the pendulum swings.

There are good trail systems out there already for ATV, UTV, and 4x4 riders. There are bills out there that want to close those trails and create additional Wilderness areas.

There are groups out there trying to create additional trail areas where previously there were none.

We have some amazing Wilderness areas. We should keep them.
We have some great trail systems in sustainable areas (where runoff is not a concern), and are typically in "industrial forest" areas where timber harvest is a sustainable activity...and quiet recreation is not usually popular.. We should keep them.

All these groups are wasting each others' time and money. Congress is wasting its time and our money.

Can't we all get along?

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Old 05-29-2012   #3
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 818
Hi MT, you have a really good point. About 4.8% of America (including Alaska) is designated as wilderness. This bill will take away that last 4.8%. I agree with you that we have enough roaded land as it is... All the best, tom
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Old 05-29-2012   #4
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,436
I am a huge multiple-use recreation advocate*, and I hadn't even heard of this. Thanks for the link. I'm going to do some reading.

*...and I DO NOT advocate taking away from existing Capital-W Congressionally designated Wilderness areas.
I want to see ATV use, but only where it is currently allowed, and have regulations in place for responsible and sustainable use.
I'm OK with new road construction, but not in Wilderness Areas, and I'd be fine with new road construction in non-Wilderness areas only if replacing decommissioned roads on a mile-for-mile basis.
I'm OK with mining, but only where it's currently been active, and no cyanide heap/leach extraction or strip mining on public land. Century-old small to moderate scale placer mining locations have largely been reclaimed naturally by the forests--pretty cool.
Logging is OK, and can be very sustainable, again, not in Wilderness areas.
Construction of fixed structures can be OK, again, not in Wilderness areas.

In fact, the most dangerous element of this bill is that it gives managers a blank check to allow any activities they construe as beneficial to sportsmen.

Maybe I'm too much of a Libertarian--I don't want to see managers given a blank check for ANYTHING!!

I don't want to see our Federal Public land locked up to only hiking, I also don't want to see it destroyed for my kids and grandkids, and their kids... I truly believe that everyone can have a piece of our public lands to enjoy in a sustainable manner.
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