Legislation could close forest roads
(Note from DA: ... I used to work in timber in the old days.)
(Note: If you don't use it -- roads and lands -- you WILL lose it, and even if you do use it, you are in real danger of losing it from the "volunteer" "mappers" whose words and maps are used to shut down access, including roads, to huge areas of land. During fire season, imagine the very real danger to the lands and the people still living there, if ever more and more roads are closed and ever more "wilderness designation" is put in place. "Wilderness designation," by the way, is actually the retaking of all the lands, waters and resources in vast blocks of land -- and the removal of almost all people from these areas, people who are responsible resource providers and raised food and timber to feed and shelter us all.)
June 3, 2006
By Nathan Rushton email@example.com
To submit a Letter to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
A proposed bill, winding its way through the House of Representatives, is drawing criticism from one off-road vehicle group.
The proposed Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act [the Thompson Wilderness Bill, H.R. 233] has been authored by Rep. Mike Thompson.
If passed, it would designate more than 300,000 acres of Northern California lands as wilderness, including 45,551 acres in Six Rivers National Forest in Humboldt County.
Don Amador, western representative for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a national nonprofit recreation and trail-access group that advocates the responsible use of public lands for all recreationists, said the bill would close roads that some have used for years.
A North Coast native, Amador said he became involved in environmental issues after Cal-Pacific Lumber, a mill where he worked in Blue Lake in the early 1970s, was shut down due to environmental restrictions on logging in the area.
Recently, Amador has been traveling through the West to meet with landowners in the North Coast area and Crescent City, along with North Coast four-wheel drive clubs to gauge their support for HR 233 and to gather information from the various interested groups to pass along to Thompson’s staff.
Amador said he couldn't give an official position on the bill until the group gets adequate feedback from people in the affected areas, but he expected the group would have a formal position before an expected hearing in the House of Representatives at the subcommittee level sometime this summer.
Amador said his group has a number of concerns with the proposed legislation.
“It is a continuation of a false promise,” Amador said. “When this whole wilderness designation started -- and I classify national parks in that -- we have restrictive land management prescriptions.”
Amador said when issues of land-use restrictions on logging, motorized-vehicle and mountain-bike access are raised, the government says it will bring jobs and economic viability to the area, which he said has the opposite effect.
Amador said a few years ago the Blue Ribbon Coalition came up with a concept for a “backcountry designation” concept that would preserve the primitive nature of the backcountry, while still allowing active management of the areas and diverse recreational opportunities.
He said he has discussed the issue with Thompson and Sen. Barbara Boxer’s staff.
He is concerned about the historic uses of some of the lands, which have included logging, ranching and open access.
Amador said one road that skirts along the coast in the proposed wilderness area was once a major inland highway trade route.
“When they talk about this being this remote, lost place that nobody knows about -- well, it has been used by Californians since the 1800s,” Amador said.
Lynn Ryan has been a volunteer since the 1980s and is chair of the wilderness committee for the north group part of the Redwood Chapter of the Sierra Club.
She said she keeps an eye on wilderness issues and leads hikes into areas that are being proposed under the bill to be designated as wilderness.
Ryan said she was involved in the process of putting the legislation together, looking at roadless areas across California that meet the criteria for the Wilderness Act.
She said volunteers hiked, biked and drove the perimeters of the areas to do their own mapping and to talk with landowners, hunters, municipalities and other affected groups to determine where those people traveled in the areas and what roads they were using.
From those discussions and meetings, she said the proposed areas in the bill were narrowed down to the 300,000 acres of wild places in the bill that she says deserve protection.
“Because I love wild places, I hope that future generations can also enjoy them,” Ryan said. “I feel that unless they are permanently protected, it is very possible that with population increases -- and vehicles seem to get larger and larger, it will be really easy for people to want to drive in these areas instead of actually appreciating them on foot and appreciating them for their wild character.”
She said water-quality issues, which affect salmon spawning habitat, are another reason people want some of the areas permanently protected.
She said she expects she will return to Washington D.C., to speak about the bill and wilderness issues.
Copyright 2005, Eureka Reporter.