Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wilderness defenders needed


Ed Abbey once said, "The idea of Wilderness needs no defense, only defenders." This rings true more than ever as the Republican-controlled House recently passed the Sportsmen's Heritage Act, HR 4089. The Senate is prepared to vote on a similar bill, S 2066.

The Sportsmen's Heritage Act would gut the Wilderness Act of 1964 and turn places like the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church Wilderness into game farms for hunters, trappers, fishermen, and motorized recreationists. Disguised as wildlife conservation, the legislation would permit public land managers to build roads and permanent structures in wilderness to accommodate outfitters. It would allow any motorhead in the state to take a motorcycle or four-wheeler into the wilderness as long as they have a fishing rod or rifle with them.

It gets better. The bill would give managers the green light to allow thinning and logging within wilderness, all in the name of improving elk habitat. Helicopters would be permitted to land in the middle of wilderness so that wildlife could be tranquilized and collared. Your favorite fishing hole could be poisoned, and exotic fish planted to increase angling opportunities. All management actions would be exempt from the National Environmental Policy Act, meaning public input, appeals, and litigation would be stripped.

Please contact Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and tell him this legislation must be blocked. Don't waste your breath with Mike Crapo and James Risch—they are co-sponsors.

BRETT HAVERSTICK

Moscow




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