McCarthy chops away at wilderness protection
April 16, 2011
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.”