Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plan will raze wilderness


Over the last seven and a half years, President Bush has given us war, a collapsing infrastructure, the sub-prime mortgage debacle, unprecedented national debt, recession, ever-more Americans living in poverty with no health care—and the certain knowledge that the rest of the world doesn't "hate America for our freedom"—they hate us for our leaders' war-mongering and arrogance, for our greedy, polluting consumption and for our disregard for the perils of global warming.

Now it seems our president is planning one last gift before he swaggers out of office. This won't be a gift to the people—though once again we will pay the price. This will be a gift to his buddies in the logging and timber and mining industries. Before he leaves the White House, it appears that Mr. Bush is planning to do away with the Roadless Rule, put in place by President Clinton. This law, as we all know, protects the nation's last remaining wilderness areas—some 60 million acres (9.3 million of them in Idaho)—from industrial development. If Mr. Bush has his way one more time, perhaps we should take our children hiking and mountain biking and camping while we may. (And those of us living in southeastern Idaho, where even more phosphate will be mined, had better hurry up and take them fishing in the remaining unpolluted streams.) Before it is too late, we'd better introduce our children to the denizens of our Idaho wilderness: to the elk, coyotes, foxes, beavers, moose, blue herons, eagles. We'd better show them hillsides awash with wildflowers and aspen groves dancing in their fluttering green dresses in the spring, and the glory of their golden ball gowns in the fall.

Unfortunately, like George Bush himself, many of our state's officials—including the governor—come from backgrounds in the extractive industries, which makes me fear that their proposed 'alternative' plan for Idaho's wild places may be similar to putting the fox in charge of the chicken house.

If Mr. Bush and his like-minded friends have their way, all too soon the ancient silence of some of the last great places in our nation will be shattered by the roar of bulldozers and road-building equipment, the blast of dynamite, the shriek of chain-saws, the wrenching crash of great trees falling in the forests. Can we stop it? I don't know. All I know is that if we can't, this nightmare scenario will come to pass as surely as have the scandal and corruption that today stalk the corridors of power in our nation.

Diana Fassino

Ketchum




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