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BRC NATIONAL WILDERNESS LEGISLATION UPDATE – UPDATE
Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,
Last Thursday we blasted a Wilderness Legislation Update and reported on Wilderness bills in Idaho, South Dakota, Colorado, Montana and Utah.
In the past week there has been quite a bit of news on each of these bills so we thought we'd send another update. Call it a Wilderness Legislation Update – Update!*
We also wanted to send a heartfelt THANKS to everyone who took the time and effort to contact legislators on these bills. Judging by the news in Idaho, your phone calls and email are having a positive effect.
I'll repeat our a disclaimer that this update won't cover all of the various wilderness and other land use bills pending. If we miss any bills in your area, we apologize and ask that you shoot us an email and we'll include it in our next update.
Brian Hawthorne Public Lands Policy Director BlueRibbon Coalition 208-237-1008 ext 102
BRC WILDERNESS UPDATE UPDATE
IDAHO S. 3294 – CIEDRA - Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act The U.S. Senate Subcommittee for Public Lands and Forests heard testimony June 16, 2010 on Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson's Boulder/White Clouds Wilderness bill. Known as CIEDRA, this legislation would close approximately 80 miles of mountain bike single track and tens of thousands of acres of prized high mountain snowmobiling.
Apparently, the Subcommittee testimony raised serious questions... Risch: Wouldn't bet on Idaho wilderness Risch: Wouldn't bet on Idaho wilderness in 2010 - KHQ Right Now - News and Weather for Spokane and North Idaho |
CIEDRA deemed a ‘tough sell’ Wilderness bill rides momentum after hearing, but opposition looms Idaho Mountain Express: CIEDRA deemed a ‘tough sell’ - June 18, 2010
Adena Cook, BRC's Senior Policy Adviser, wanted everyone to read Idaho Governor Butch Otter's letter opposing CIEDRA.* Adena reports that Otter's letter combined with calls and emails from the OHV and snowmobile community is making an impression on Senator Risch. She said “Your e-mails and letters ARE making a difference. They have REAL IMPACT.”
So much impact that Idaho's Wilderness Advocacy Media, in the form of Rocky Barker, environment and natural resource writer for the Idaho Statesman, seems to be doing their level best to spin the opposition to Rep. Simpson's bill. Barker has posted two blurbs on his blog:
Motorized recreation activist flexes muscles Motorized recreation activist flexes muscles | Voices.IdahoStatesman.com
Other collaborative processes threatened if Simpson's bill goes down Other collaborative processes threatened if Simpson's bill goes down | Voices.IdahoStatesman.com
Speaking of Sandra Mitchell... Sandra Mitchell sent a email update to members of Idaho Recreation Council and Idaho State Snowmobile Association reacting to the news that Senator Risch is reconsidering his support of that bill:****
**** "We have waited a long time to hear something like this and I know there were times when we all felt as if CIEDRA was a done deal. Thanks to your hard work and that magnificent *letter from the Governor; it isn’t over.
**** Again, I am going to ask you do something and that is to contact Senator Risch and say thanks for his comments in the Statesman and for understanding that this CIEDRA bill doesn’t work for the people or the land. I promise you, by acting you will make a difference.
***** We have come so far and worked so hard, we cannot give up and numbers still matter. It is important that the Senator know folks care and are paying attention."
SOUTH DAKOTA S. 3310 - Tony Dean Cheyenne River Valley Conservation Act of 2010 - This bill will designate 48,000 acres of Wilderness in South Dakota's Buffalo National Grasslands.
Senators, groups clash on wilderness http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/event/article/id/43998/
COLORADO: H.R. 3914 - San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act of 2009 A bill that will designate approximately 60,000 acres of Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
In House, San Juan public lands bill passes committee Telluride Daily Planet > Archives > News > In House, San Juan public lands bill passes committee
COLORADO: HIDDEN GEMS Our previous updated explained that confusion and controversy erupted in Colorado's Hidden Gems Wilderness campaign as Colorado Rep. Jared Polis scrambled to clarify his position after an AP story reported the process would be put on hold. The latest news comes from Pitkin County, who says the Wilderness activists need to work harder at reaching accommodation with other stakeholders:
Pitkin County to Gems: Get more public comment Pitkin County to Gems: Get more public comment | PostIndependent.com
MONTANA: S. 1470 – The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act Montana's Senator Jon Tester is making some changes to his bill, but he's sticking with his original plan to require the USFS log a certain amount of overgrown forest.* He has posted a revised draft on his website: U.S. Senator Jon Tester | Legislation
Senator Tester Stands Behind Logging in Wilderness Bill Senator Tester Stands Behind Logging in Wilderness Bill | News, Sports, Weather for Great Falls, Helena, and all of Montana | Local Top Stories
Tester adjusts forest bill Tester adjusts forest bill | greatfallstribune.com | Great Falls Tribune
UTAH: The last updated mentioned SUWA's play to encourage Colorado Senator Mark Udall to become the Western Champion of their unfathomably massive 10 million acre BLM Wilderness bill. Udall may lead regional wilderness issue Udall may lead regional wilderness issue | GJSentinel.com
But we didn't mention any news on Senator Bennett's county-by-county Land Use Legislation process.* Both San Juan and Emery Counties are considering land use bills that would include Wilderness, as well as other recreation friendly designations. Emery County's Public Lands Council is currently putting pen to paper and should have a draft bill ready in coming months. Draft maps and other information is posted on the County's website: Emery County Land Use Plan Information
Utah's National Public Radio interviewed Senator Bennett who repeated the probably accurate threat that the Obama Administration may take unilateral action (Monument designation) should the county-by-county process fail. Wilderness After Senator Bennett KUER: Wilderness After Senator Bennett (2010-06-21)
SUWA has an interesting spin on their website: An Emery County Update An Emery County Update - Redrock Headlines
**** "Unfortunately county officials have drawn heavy criticism from local wilderness opponents for working too closely with SUWA, whose interests they see at odds with theirs. This has dampened any early optimism."
Doesn't it seem*like they are setting the stage to blame their opposition to Emery County's bill on “local wilderness opponents.”
Maybe not. Its too easy to assign nefarious motives to a group like SUWA. And, in all honesty, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that any legislation that would be palatable to the elected officials and the citizens of Emery County would be in significant conflict with SUWA's 10 million acre behemoth wilderness bill.
Whatever spin SUWA tries to put on it, the question will boil down to whether or not SUWA will want to take what wilderness it can get via Bennett's process, or continue its past history of killing the bills in Washington D.C.
MEANWHILE.... SUWA Negotiates with Oil and Gas Industry to Close Areas to Public?? According to Tom McCourt, a columnist for the Sun Advocate in Price, Utah, SUWA has struck a deal with the Bill Barrett Corporation that would allow Barrett to develop their oil and gas operation in Carbon County as long as the company and the County agrees to close roads to public access. The Wasatch Behind: Grin and Barrett By TOM MCCOURT Sun Advocate - The Wasatch Behind: Grin and Barrett - June 15, 2010
BLUERIBBON COALITION, INC.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Brian Hawthorne, Public Lands Policy Director
Phone: 208-237-1008 ext 102
Date: May 4, 2009
Massive Wilderness Sounds Alarm in Land Use Debate
POCATELLO, ID (May 4) - The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national trail-based recreation group, states potential passage of a massive Wilderness Bill is sounding an alarm in the access community. BRC credits a House Subcommittee hearing on H.R. 980, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), for resurgence in grassroots opposition to legislation limiting recreational access to public lands.
"Our phone has been ringing off the hook and our email in-boxes are flooded," said Greg Mumm, BRC's Executive Director. "The recent flurry of Wilderness bills being proposed and/or signed into law has raised a red flag in the access community. Widespread opposition to the massive Wilderness bill is rising among individuals, groups and local governments across the West."
H.R. 980 was first introduced in 1993 by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and proposes to designate 24 million acres of Wilderness across five Western states, (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming). The bill has also been described as the modern incarnation of the Wildlands Project, an ambitious proposal first conceived by Dave Foreman, the co-founder of Earth First!. The Wildlands Project would "re-wild" approximately half of North America by outlawing most human use and occupancy.
NREPA was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and is scheduled for a hearing on May 5, by the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. Committee on Natural Resources
Brian Hawthorne, BRC's Public Lands Policy Director, speculated that NREPA was moving up as a priority for recreation advocacy groups, including mountain bike and sporting conservation groups, perhaps because the growing influence of the green lobby on decision-makers in Washington DC. "We don't know if the Wilderness lobby really thinks Congress will let eastern politicians draw lines on maps around lands they've never seen, or if this is a strategic ploy to make smaller scale proposals seem reasonable by comparison. Either way, the recreating public should be on high alert," observed Hawthorne.
BRC is urging its members to contact their legislators and express opposition to the passage of NREPA and has provided a portal on their website to easily contact legislators. Rapid Response Center - BlueRibbon Coalition
BRC is also cautioning its members not to let the hearing on NREPA distract their attention from equally serious threats to access to other public lands. In an email to members today the Coalition stated, "NREPA is perhaps the largest threat to public access to public lands pending in Congress today. However, our members must remember that large, multi-state Wilderness bills are very difficult to pass and there are many smaller bills, each equally unfair in denying public access that need immediate attention by our members and supporters."
A few of the smaller initiatives mentioned by the Coalition were:
H.R.1769 & S. 721 -Alpine Lakes Wilderness expansion in the State of Washington
Mojave Desert Wilderness bill - Senator Feinstein's effort to designate more Wilderness in San Bernardino, Imperial, and Riverside counties
H.R.192 Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), will designate an additional half million acres of Wilderness in Idaho
Montana's Beaverhead-Deerlodge Conservation, Restoration and Stewardship Act
Legislation to designate Johnson Valley a National Recreation Area (BRC is supporting this one!)
SUWA'S massive Utah Wilderness bill (H.R.1925 and S.799)
The ongoing county-by-county Wilderness approach currently underway in Nevada, Colorado and Utah
For further updates on these and other issues, visit BRC's webpage at BlueRibbon Coalition: Preserving your recreational access to public lands..
# # #
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. BlueRibbon Coalition: Preserving your recreational access to public lands.
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