Diverse recreation and government groups say Boxer/Capps Wilderness Bill is a bad idea
OAKLEY, CA May 28, 2002 -- Diverse recreation groups and local government agencies are
saying the California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2002 is a bad idea.
Access and resource management interests up and down the state have said the
bill being carried by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congresswoman Lois
Capps (D-CA) will negatively affect recreation access and prohibit wildfire
Recreation groups who have stated opposition or voiced concern about the
plan include; the Backcountry Horsemen of California, the California
Equestrian Trails and Lands Coalition, the BlueRibbon Coalition, the
Bicyclists of Nevada County, the Warrior's Society and Southern Sierra Fat
Tire Association mountain bike clubs, the American Motorcyclists
Association, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association, the California
Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs, and the SAMS Coalition.
Various county governments have expressed concerns about the proposals and
have passed resolutions against the Act or have stated significant issues
remain unresolved including; Tulare County, El Dorado County, Madera
County, Inyo County, Alpine County and Tehama County. In addition, some
water districts have expressed concerns the Act's designations would affect
their operations for repairs and safety checks.
The Los Padres National Forest also appears to have reservations, having
noted in a recent review of the Boxer/Capps Plan, "Expanded Wilderness
designation would displace motorized and mechanized recreation into the
remaining acres of the National Forest... additional Wilderness designation
restricts the ability to relocate needed recreation capacity (e.g. trails
and campgrounds) to more appropriate sites in the forest."
The review also stated, "Wilderness designation would preclude the use of
mechanized equipment (such as chainsaws) in trail maintenance. The miles of
trails maintained would be reduced and the cost per mile would be increased.
The net result would be a loss of available trail miles due to closure by
Don Amador, the western representative for BlueRibbon, said, "This bill will
close many of our favorite roads and trails that outdoor recreationists have
cared for and maintained for 20 years. I think it is unfair for us to be
'rewarded' for our stewardship and volunteer efforts with a closed sign."
"We believe that protection of lands and access are not mutually exclusive
but are, in fact, necessary for the health and vitality of our forests. A
growing number of families want to enjoy the great outdoors and that is why
BlueRibbon is offering its 'Backcountry proposal' as an alternative to
federally designated Wilderness," Amador said.
"Rather than a new generation of broken promises, we feel this is a time for
new ideas to resolve the Wilderness debate," Amador concludes.
Chris Vargas, the executive director of planning for the Warrior's Society
Mountain Bike Club, said, "We are concerned that the Wilderness designation
has been abused by the so-called environmental movement to the point where
it will have a detrimental affect on not only our personal freedom, but our
economic and national security as well."
"It is the club's policy to oppose all new Wilderness designations until an
alternative designation, such as the Backcountry plan, is adopted and
implemented," Vargas states.
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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national non-profit recreation group that
champions responsible use of public lands. It represents over 1,100
organizations and businesses with approximately 600,000 members.
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