Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Save salmon, not CIEDRA

I will not gloat over the recent failure of CIEDRA. I am disturbed that it was attached to an unrelated bill (thankfully removed before the vote) instead of being debated on its own merits. This is a flaw in the way the Legislature operates that must be eliminated.

The lack of support for "wilderness" designation in this country is due to its exclusionary nature. "Wilderness" lost potentially millions of supporters in 1984 when the Wilderness Act was re-interpreted, without public debate, to exclude bicycles, which were allowed for the first 20 years of the existence of the act. An excellent legal opinion is at "Stroll concluded that the agencies no-bikes rules are based on misinterpretations of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Congress had wanted wilderness areas to be visited by human-powered users such as mountain bikers so as long as they leave no permanent trace and require no infrastructure."

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area should be left the way it is. It should serve as a model for protecting other natural areas without excluding recreational use or promoting one over all others. The time, effort and money wasted trying to get CIEDRA passed would have been better spent on things that really need attention. For example, restoring salmon runs would have a far more beneficial effect on the SNRA than simply drawing new lines and excluding certain forms of recreational use.

Arne P. Ryason


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