McCarthy chops away at wilderness protection

April 16, 2011

Kevin McCarthy

Cong. Kevin McCarthy, whose district includes much of San Luis Obispo County, introduced legislation Friday designed to cut back wilderness protection efforts. [San Francisco Chronicle]

McCarthy, the third ranking Republican in the House proposed a bill that would roll back the Clinton-era rule protecting 60 million acres of roadless Forest Service land and release all wilderness study areas to multiple use. It would also bar future administrations from protecting new wilderness.

The legislation, called  “The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act”  has environmentalists in an uproar, with Paul Spitler of the Wilderness Society calling it the “greatest attack on wilderness in the history of the Wilderness Society.”

McCarthy’s bill is not expected to become law, but the move clearly signals Republican hostility to attempts such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s to expand the California Desert Protection Act.

Spitler said the proposed legislation would wipe out millions of acres from wilderness protection. “Your favorite places where you love to hunt, fish or hike? Gone. Protection for our drinking water and habitat for wildlife? Gone… If passed, this legislation would open wilderness-caliber lands to destructive threats, including oil and gas development, uncontrolled off-road vehicle use and other unchecked development. It would essentially prohibit the Forest Service and BLM from managing pristine lands to protect their wilderness values.”



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Don’t be fooled. This is all about turning public lands over to concessionaires and other business interests that either keep the public out altogether, or charge citizens profit-making fees or using their own land.

This is just another giveaway-away-to-business scheme that McCarthy is being employed to push.

Certain business interests are so ravenous and persistent in wanting to gobble up public lands that wilderness designations have been required to preserve the interests of the public.

For instance, the Sespe Wilderness in Ventura County, the only way to preserve Southern California’s last wild river, was for the area to be designated the most restrictive “wilderness” designation. Even most “environmentalists” were not happy with this, but it was the ONLY sure way to make sure a dam was not built that would have destroyed the wild river and inundated one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in Southern California.

I can just imagine what will happen if we add more ‘wilderness areas’. My favorite mountain biking and four-wheeling spots… gone. My ability to explore vast tracks of the land that I am part owner of… gone.

Why do the environmentalists pick this fight? The 4×4 crowd should be their biggest ally in protecting public lands from hasty development, strip mining and pollution from poorly executed oil and gas drilling. We don’t want to see people make a mess of our trails either. And, it’s not like the four-wheelers and snowmobile riders are trying to throw hikers, bikers and cross-country skiers off of the public lands.

No one is trying to add more wilderness areas. You can still bike or go off road in your favorite spots. There should be and is plenty of places to go off road, there should also be places that are preserved, why can’t we have both?

May I quote you on that next time that Pismo dunes come up here on Cal Coast News?


Yeah, you’ve totally missed the point. McCarthy wants to open up most of our wild lands, this isn’t a move to protect more land. But in any event the snowmobiles, bikers and other motorized traffic (and even foot traffic in some areas!) disrupt the natural flow of things and that is why we want to protect much of the land from any intrusion of man. We have built on, paved over and developed oodles of this country ever since we illegally invaded it (yeah, talking about the whities). We killed the locals and despoiled the land for our fun and profit. I know it sounds outrageous to most americans when anyone suggests that maybe they can’t have everything they want, but that is where we are.

When this debate raged for a year or two in the nineties a compromise was forged to protect millions of acres from roads (called roadless areas) and sacrifice millions of others to use (which just about always amounts to abuse).

He’s a waspy version of Abel. Point him anywhere and press play.

I won’t say what I would like to see happen to McCarthy.

Maybe McCarthy is right. When you think about it what have future generations ever done for us.