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Wilderness is for Everyone

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Wilderness is for Everyone

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Object Title: Wilderness is for Everyone

 

Page By: Scott

Created/Edited: Mar 29, 2006 / Jul 12, 2006

Object ID: 184539

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I actually wrote this article for another site several months ago, but thought it might make a nice addition here. Forgive the rantings, but there is some good information here pertaining to us hikers and climbers. My article pertains mostly to Utah and Colorado and was written for those states, but could be applied elsewhere.

Wilderness is for Everybody

Perhaps you have heard some of the myths and lies. Lets examine them closely.

Wilderness advocates want to lock everyone off the land:

Wilderness is for everybody. Perhaps you have heard the phrase that wilderness advocates want to keep everyone out and off public lands. This is simply not the case, and is nothing but a falsehood that is printed on some other anti-wilderness sites.

Unless you are entirely and permanently bed ridden (In which case, I could take you out in my canoe!), the wilderness is open to every single person in the United States, or the world. Since I was a baby, I have been visiting the wilderness, and now I take our baby and three-year old out. My 80 year old Grandparents often go hiking in the wilderness. Wilderness is open for anyone willing to put forth the effort, both very young and old. I have posted several pictures of my 3-year old enjoying the wilderness below. He walked and was not carried, indicating that almost anyone else can too. Heck, even if you never set foot in a wilderness, but just enjoy looking at unscarred land from afar (such as in the Wasatch Mountains), then you are a wilderness user.

Kessler on the south summit...
Three year old on Cross Mountain

Anyone can visit the wilderness, and most wilderness advocates (there way be some radicals out there) want people to visit the wilderness. It is mentally and physically heathy and is an experience all should be able to have.

Wilderness Advocates Want to Lock Away Most of the Land:

This is another falsehood. Even if the maximum wilderness acreage areas by most wilderness groups are accepted, it is still only about 15% of the state. That would still leave 85% of the state open for other uses.

Wilderness Advocates are Affluent, and Want the Land For the Affluent:

This is one I can’t understand and is another falsehood. Why could only the affluent visit the wilderness? Wilderness vacations are the cheapest vacations available anywhere. I did not grow up in rich family, and the only vacations we could afford were in the wilderness.

Wilderness Advocates are People Who Live Far Away and Don’t Understand Local Economies. They Don’t Want Rural Counties to Have the Roads that are Needed.

I live in a small coal mining town, near the Utah-Wyoming border, not far east of the Utah border. I am a highway and road engineer. All the wilderness advocates I am familiar with want the counties to have the roads they need. One reason rural counties want more roads is because the Federal government, not the counties pay for most of the cost for county roads (known as local agency projects). The more county roads a county has, the more money they get from the feds. The source on this is myself. One thing I do at work is to make cost estimates and budgets for “local agency” projects at work and their budgets, though it is my job, which I do honestly, to keep politics out of my decisions.

Coal is the lifeblood of the town I live in. The coal mine here is expected to run out in 20 years. Unless other ways to make money are found, the town will die. Hunting is big here, and there is the possibility of natural gas, but if the wilderness became protected, it will last forever. People will come to see it, if they knew how spectacular it was. The income from wilderness will pour in, but it will be very slow. But…it will last forever if the land protected. When the coal mines run out of coal, they are gone, and so is the money and jobs that the coal comes with. The money generated from people coming to see the wildness will not be as much as coal anytime soon, but it will always be there.

I have posted a few pictures of some of the proposed wilderness areas in my area for your enjoyment. Most are near the Colorado/Utah border and some are in either state.

Scott Patterson
Craig Colorado
Rural county resident, highway and road engineer, SUV owner, and wilderness advocate.

Images


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Mountain JimRight on !!!

Mountain Jim

Voted 10/10

Thanks for posting this. More people need to hear our side of the debate.
With regard to the physically fit being the only ones to use wilderness, I often point out that approximately 15,000 people get to the summit of Longs Peak every year ... one of the more difficult and demanding of the 14'ers ... so perhaps it's not that only the physically fit that use the wilderness ... maybe it should be stated, that only the lazy, couch potatoes don't access the wilderness.
Posted Apr 1, 2006 6:48 pm

PeakMuleBe an effective evangelist

PeakMule

Hasn't voted

Bravo, Scott! But part of what makes these myths so durable is the way that we make our case for wilderness. Listen to outdoors enthusiasts, and it won't be long before you hear a bitter or hyperbolic comment (think Ed Abbey) that supports the notion that we want the outdoors all to ourselves, lesser mortals and economic realities be damned. A little tact in dealing with the lazy couch potatoes would really help our cause.
Posted Apr 3, 2006 3:10 pm

Ed FGreat Points

Ed F

Voted 10/10

If you think for a few moments about the lies that politicians and big industry advocates use to steal our public land and wilderness areas, you see how absurd they really are. Thanks for adding this. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Posted Apr 4, 2006 5:18 pm

dloringNot from Nevada, eh?

dloring

Hasn't voted

Nevada is 80% federal lands. If all the roadless land in Nevada was made wilderness, all that land would be unavailable to mineral exploration, cattle ranching, dirt bikes, and the other things that make money for rural Nevada.

"Big industry" does not steal wilderness areas - once one is made through the public process, it is nearly impossible to undo. It might be said that certain administrations steal natural resources from the American people through improper use of various acts (a deserted part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument contains 50-80 years of coal reserves, which considering the current energy crisis has many implications).

Don't get me wrong - I love the mountains, undisturbed views, undeveloped areas. But more government intrusions mean more regulation, more fees, less freedom. This is true with wilderness areas - access fees, permit systems, and rules governing where to camp, how to travel, etc. Do we really want more government in our lives? I say no.
Posted Apr 5, 2006 2:39 am

ScottRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

Scott

Hasn't voted

Nevada is 80% federal land

And yet has very few designated wilderness areas. Utah is 75% public land, and the majority of Idaho is as well. Only a portion of the 80% is suitable for wilderness.

Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument contains 50-80 years of coal reserves, which considering the current energy crisis has many implications).

50-80 years is a false figure, and the coal that is present there is of very poor quality.

This is true with wilderness areas - access fees, permit systems, and rules governing where to camp, how to travel, etc.

Maybe in California and the West Coast, but not in most wilderness areas. None of the wilderness areas in Utah, Wyoming, or Nevada, for example have access fees or permit systems. Even if they did, would you rather see a permit system or be locked out. Oil in needed in this country, but once an industry is drilling on public land, for example, they can and do keep people away. It's not only mineral exploration companies that can do this, but others as well. I'll use Mount Elsworth in the Henry Mountains of Utah as an example. Mt Elsworth is a very spectacular and rugged mountain with it's easiest route of class 3-4. There is no private land for miles and miles, and it is all public. Farily recently, a small helicopter installed and serviced communication tower was placed on the summit, presumably so the houseboats on Lake Powell could have cell phone service. Even though this is all public lands, the communications company has installed keep out and private on the access road because they don't want people climbing the mountain. Do you want to see more of this type of thing? It happens all the time.
Posted Apr 5, 2006 2:35 pm

ScottySRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

ScottyS

Hasn't voted

Scott, while I think the premise of your presentation is very well-meaning, there is also a different side to the coin, especially concerning areas such as Nevada where huge tracts of "public" land are found.

You say that Nevada has "very few" wilderness areas. That is true, if you look at the state as a whole at this point in time. However, I wonder what a state-by-state "wilderness" acreage comparison would look like? More to the point, the wilderness-designation activity in this state has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 15 years. There are many, many areas where "wilderness" designation is being considered --- these can be found by a simple web search.

One such large area just entered "wilderness" status this year. A remote area that sees 2-digit visitors per year has gone from unlimited access and activities to designated access and limited activities. A whole mountain range where I wanted to sample trees for paleohydroclimatic and fire regime reconstruction is now off-limits to my activities unless I essentially go through the EIS process for something that would create less impact than a team of Feds doing a "cultural resources assessment" of the mountain range (assuming they did it properly). Now, my question is: now that the Gucci recreationalists in LV can see a "wilderness" on a map, how many more will start swarming up there to a previously-unknown mountain range and proceed to "impact" it accordingly? Don't tell me that the magical "wilderness" designation will save it or something...

I can tell you right now that the "designation" of lands in Nevada for special status is purely political in nature. The sizes of tracts up for review are so large and so numerous that it is clear that actual "management" of these areas regarding individual recreational use is impossible. The Black Rock NCA "wilderness" is an excellent example. All that has happened in a VAST majority of the BR NCA is that rediculous signage has appeared on what roads there are indicating what you may or may not do (hang gliding, "off-roading", whatever). It's about securing legal control over you and your activities in an area where such control is not needed nor immediately enforced.

Sure, it seems harmless now. What it means is there is one more layer of remote "management" between the inhabitants, local governments, local users, and the land itself. What's been left out of your article is the issue of state's rights. In effect, the freedom of the local inhabitant has been erased by out-of-state activists and a cabal of polititians that have never even been to the places involved.

What we are seeing is the securing of legal control of land for the future when more direct management is possible via increased funding and agency sizes. You think that your lack of fees and permits will last forever? You think that you will be able to always "visit" these areas without getting reservations, signing in, agreeing to store your food in appropriate containers, staying on the designated trails, not lighting campfires, or submitting to strip-searches in your tent (j/k)? Getting "locked out" is not something I enjoy either, and as much as I get out I run into it frequently. However, individuals may and have been communicated with --- the Feds cannot.

At some point the danger of the Federal Government to personal freedom eclipses that horrid possibility of (gulp) private enterprise. You may draw that line once it has happened, I draw it now as the preparations are made.
Posted Apr 10, 2006 7:50 pm

dloringRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

dloring

Hasn't voted

From the Utah USGS - the Kaiparowits Plateau (Escalante) contains 60+ billion tons of coal, 22+ billion tons of minable resources. The royalties alone are worth over $20 billion dollars to the State of Utah. Andalex's Smokey Hollow Mine (planned, then subverted by Clinton) was worth over $1.4 billion over 30 years to Utah. it would have had little or no impact to the surface.

Most recreationists in nevada don't want wilderness. 4-wheelers and dirt bikers don't want their dirt roads closed. Very few of the central mountains are worth hiking or climbing in. Geologists spend the most time in them.
Posted Apr 11, 2006 1:14 am

ScottRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

Scott

Hasn't voted

Right where I live, the Seneca Coal mine just closed. Coal is a temporary resource. Everyone that worked at the mine is out of a job. We need coal but, we need wilderness as well.

Most recreationists in nevada don't want wilderness. 4-wheelers and dirt bikers don't want their dirt roads closed.

Public lands belong to the people of the nation, not just the people of Nevada, nor dirt bikers and 4-wheelers. The state of Nevada has so much federal land because the state gave the land to the federal government. The land belongs to the entire nation, not just those who live there. Some should be kept in a wild state.

Very few of the central mountains are worth hiking or climbing in.

Not only is that comment incorrect, but it is completely inslulting to the state of Nevada. Centeal Nevada has thousands of mountains worth climbing, and Nevada has more mountain ranges than anywhere else in the United States.
Posted Apr 11, 2006 3:05 pm

ScottySRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

ScottyS

Hasn't voted

Public lands belong to the people of the nation, not just the people of Nevada...

And that, my friend, is called the "tyranny of the majority", a state which was supposed to be avoided by the creation of the United States. It's all fine and dandy until the situation is reversed.

The state of Nevada has so much federal land because the state gave the land to the federal government.

"Gave", or "had it taken by", I wonder. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't agree with the current system of management at all: 1) on an moral/ethical/historical basis; and 2) because as a rural inhabitant I get to see (in the "management" of the Federal land agencies) first-hand why the states were supposed to remain free and independent. Yes, I realize we live in a global world, blahblahblah, but you think the current system is the 'best', you're fooling yourself. I know it's fun for the politicians and lobbyists to sit in chairs and meddle in land (and affairs) that don't concern them or their everyday life, but nobody said we had to embrace it.

Some should be kept in a wild state.

When was the last time you drove your SUV around Nevada? Pretty sure it's all wild. The reason Nevada has been targeted by the Feds for increased restrictions is because we're easy pickins...

In the end, if the land was managed by the state --- by locals, primarily for locals --- creating managed wilderness areas would not be a bad thing. Yes, I am aware of the various potential economic and political issues associated with that, but if this was a perfect world, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Posted Apr 11, 2006 3:31 pm

ScottRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

Scott

Hasn't voted

"Gave", or "had it taken by", I wonder.

It is OK to disagree with anyone or this article, but at least get some basic facts straight. I'm sorry Scotty, but you are obviously either incredibly ignorant on Nevada History, and the BLM, or not being truthful, reagardless if you agree with the article or not. Please inform us of which one it is. I'm sorry, and I'm not trying to insult you, but those are the only two possibilities. This aticle was written to point out the falsehoods of some anti-wilderness advocates, and you have just pointed out another one.

The final creation of the BLM was in 1946. This was because after 1934, congress proposed to give Western States control of all the "unwanted lands" from the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act and other previous mining and other usage laws. The intermountain western states (especially Utah, Arizona, and Nevada) strongly refused, and the governors from those states actually wrote up a huge petition saying that "We already have enough desert". The BLM was created in 1946 from these "left over" and "unwanted lands". The states refused control of the land and gave it to the Federal Government. If you want specific names of the governors involved, and exactly what was said, I can find them.

In what way could this be construed as "taking away" the land from the states. Please let me know, so I can understand your opinion.

Call me old-fashioned, but I don't agree with the current system of management at all

Which has absolutely nothing to do with this article.

you think the current system is the 'best', you're fooling yourself. I know it's fun for the politicians and lobbyists to sit in chairs and meddle in land (and affairs) that don't concern them or their everyday life, but nobody said we had to embrace it

None of which has anything to do with this article, and I never said the Fed system is best. Besides, it is I whom live in a rual county, not you. You live in the city. It affects me more than you. My realitives also all come from rural areas.

When was the last time you drove your SUV around Nevada?

2004, and my family roots are in Delta Utah, on Highway 50&6, not far east of Great Basin National Park, so I know eastern Nevada quite well.

Pretty sure it's all wild.

Then much of is elegible for wilderness designation.

Posted Apr 11, 2006 4:21 pm

ScottRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

Scott

Hasn't voted

PS, this article is about the fact that everyone can enjoy wilderness. It wasn't about the Federal Government, State's rights, or Nevada politics. It is aobout the fact that wilderness is for everyone whom wishes to enjoy it.
Posted Apr 11, 2006 4:35 pm

ScottySRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

ScottyS

Hasn't voted

Sorry Scott, didn't mean to confuse you so. But by "taken by" I mean just that. Through the political process the Federal Government gladly went outside their jursidiction and responsibility, as it were, and assumed control of state lands. While certain events surrounding these are portrayed in history books in a certain light, my experience with politics (albeit grossly limited) on the State-Federal interface tells me that there is always more to the story, and many times the real motivations behind American politics are not displayed to the public. That's just my opinion.

Whether or not you think my opinions mean nothing to your article is up to you. Your article is simply a very short "op-ed" piece that itself is mostly opinion by virtue of presentation and limited scope. It's a much larger topic than what you present, and it's likely the facts vary widely by geography. Plus, I'm not sure what you expected by throwing down language like "bold-faced lies" and "myths".

I was going to leave well enough alone until you expanded your scope in response to dloring. Who, I think, sounded very reasonable until the "not worth hiking" part. Perhaps he was referencing the lack of trails and sparse distribution of snack bars as a non-tourist draw...

Be careful where you "assume" that I am a simply a city dweller. My life details likely have absolutely nothing to do with your article (right?), and I think I've had to explain them before --- or was that before you signed up? My profile location is a bit misleading.

Then much of is elegible for wilderness designation.

Go get 'em tiger.





Posted Apr 11, 2006 4:53 pm

ScottRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

Scott

Hasn't voted

But by "taken by" I mean just that. Through the political process the Federal Government gladly went outside their jursidiction and responsibility, as it were, and assumed control of state lands.

Ah, but only because the states refused to do so, and insisted that the Federal Government do it!

While certain events surrounding these are portrayed in history books in a certain light

Unfortunately, land issues are mostly left out of school textbooks, and you have to dig to find them. Local libraries are a good source of historical data.

my experience with politics (albeit grossly limited) on the State-Federal interface tells me that there is always more to the story, and many times the real motivations behind American politics are not displayed to the public.

I deal with politics on a daily basis at work. I am a highway engineer for the State Government (not the Feds!) and deal with rural highways and “local agency” projects, such as county roads and bridges, and deal with public and private land issues on a daily basis. Not that it matters, but I thought you might want to know that. I do know quite a bit about the history of land agencies.

It's a much larger topic than what you present, and it's likely the facts vary widely by geography. Plus, I'm not sure what you expected by throwing down language like "bold-faced lies" and "myths".

Although my article was very political in a sense, my main point was that everyone can use wilderness. It isn’t really there to lock anyone out. It may lock an ATV out, but only the vehicle, but never the rider (unless he is surgically attached to the ATV.

PS, this article was posted as a response in a thread to the Colorado message board, and before that was posted to a Utah forum to serve a purpose about getting a point across about the fact that wilderness really doesn’t lock people out, only vehicles. Never did I expect it to get so much attention and the front page on summit post.

Who, I think, sounded very reasonable until the "not worth hiking" part. Perhaps he was referencing the lack of trails and sparse distribution of snack bars as a non-tourist draw...

Good point. Did you find places like Arc Dome worth hiking? Currant Creek Peak, Mount Moriah, Pilot Peak, etc. are all great stuff in my opinion.

Be careful where you "assume" that I am a simply a city dweller. My life details likely have absolutely nothing to do with your article (right?), and I think I've had to explain them before --- or was that before you signed up? My profile location is a bit misleading.

OK, but that’s not what I meant to point out. I meant that most (and is seems like you were implying) people seem to think that only people from big cities are in favor of wilderness, and they have no idea what it is like to live in a rural area. I wanted to point out that it wasn’t the case, and that some rural folks (such as myself) are indeed in favor of the wilderness.
Posted Apr 11, 2006 5:36 pm

ScottySRe: Not from Nevada, eh?

ScottyS

Hasn't voted

Scott, sometimes I forget that the power of understatement rarely has effect on the internet!

Getting front-page exposure does change the audience (and hence the appropriate writing style) a bit, for sure.

Everything in Nevada is worth hiking ;-)

FYI --- thanks for giving me these sporadic breaks from the microscope o.0. Right now I'm developing a 500-year tree-ring chronology from the House Range that I sampled last year. I recently finished one from the San Francisco Range that went 600 years. Good, consistant climate signal that's in synchrony with the rest of the central Great Basin in terms of moisture sensitivity.
Posted Apr 11, 2006 5:50 pm

mountainTRIALS.comIts not black and white

mountainTRIALS.com

Hasn't voted

Thanks for the insight from both sides. This is a tough issue. I appreciate the details from Scott. I am probably like most of the public in that the information I get on the issue is limited, and a lot goes on behind closed doors. One thing is for sure, we need to be attentive and active, otherwise you have no right to complain. I, personally, am in favor of protecting our resources, natural and recreational. I don't necessarily think exculding all motor vehicle travel and making areas designated wilderness is the best thing in all cases, but maybe in some. What about other designations other than "wilderness" to keep areas accessible and protected? As for the case with Mt. Elsworth, that is why it is important for us to be familiar with land designations and challenge them if needed. Some "keep out" signs are not going to keep me off the mountain if it is indeed public land.
Posted Apr 7, 2006 9:59 pm

JasonHGreat Artical

JasonH

Voted 10/10

Once again you posted a very well thought out and written artical.
Posted Apr 12, 2006 6:44 am

climberskaWilderness

Hasn't voted

Today I flew from Montrose, Colorado to Denver - about a 200 mile flight. Looking down, I could see for quite a few miles before arriving at the Denver/Colorado Springs megalopolis, many mountains and valleys being overrun by the urban sprawl of the megalopolis. Roads, houses, ranchettes, scattered for many miles west of the megalopolis. It was enough to make you sick. As bad as that was, finally the megalopolis came into view and the folly of the human race was very clear. This is only one megalopolis out of many in our nation. Our population is out of control. No amount of mindless blather by the right wing nuts in the Blue Ribbon Coalition or any other group of anti-wilderness nutcases will change that fact.

I am thankful for wilderness designation that will protect areas from the kind of impacts that would occur without it: the kind of impacts I saw today from the airplane window - and worse.

I have been fortunate enough to have been willing to put in the hard work required to visit many of the wilderness areas in the Western US. They are impressive places that will be there for future generations to enjoy - not because the local people said so and not because private enterprise said so, but because the US Congress said so via wilderness designation and protection.

There are many towns and cities to enjoy for those who do not care for wilderness. There are a very limited number of wilderness areas to enjoy for a population that is growing without bounds. We need all the wilderness we have and more. No mindless blather by the anti-wilderness fruit cakes will change that fact.
Posted May 28, 2006 6:43 am

thephotohikerIs it really a fact?

thephotohiker

Voted 10/10


I like your article and found it thought provoking, for myself and obviously for a few others, as is shown from the comments made so far. Thank you. However, I believe you may find that if you base your opinions exclusively on the life experiences which YOU have had, in future you could possibly find that you had reached erroneous conclusions. Everyone of us is guilty of this, over and over and over and…

Let me use your own words to show what I mean.

“Wilderness is for everybody. …” You state this as a fact. But is it?

Granted, the “official” congressional definition of wilderness coincides with what you claim. But, in practice, on the ground, this does not always turn out to be the case.

For instance, I know of cases within 100 miles of my home, where people with grazing permits have “fenced” (yes, real fences with posts and wires) other wilderness users off the land (I’ve heard rumors that “grazing” is sometimes protected with firearms, though I must admit that is hearsay – the act of fencing is not hearsay). Illegal? Yes.

We have cases of licensed outfitters cutting clearings and constructing buildings in designated wilderness in order to make life more comfortable for paying clients. Illegal? Definitely.

Illegal ATV and snowmobile use? Yeah, we have that too.

Unfortunately the government’s “official protectors of the wilderness” have so little money to work with, there is no way the law can be entirely enforced. What happens “on the ground”, is that local officers in each area are forced to make choices about what they will be able to do. Often their choices are not the ones some of us would hope for, but then there is an old saying about “reasonable men…”.

It is not realistically possible for the few officers assigned to the “official” wilderness in our area to even visit, let alone police, the entire amount of land under their management. The politics of the day has restricted funding to the very agencies which are responsible for the enforcement of the laws and regulations governing our wilderness.

The politicians in Washington, ones we elected, have a way of passing nice politically expedient laws, then neglecting to provide the funding which is required to put those very same laws into effect. So often laws are introduced, sometimes even passed, for no other reason than to provide “talking points” for the next election. This practice is not new, but has been going on for as long as governments with officials who must stand for election have existed.

I personally believe in the concept of wilderness, just as I do in the concepts of freedom and equality under the law. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out perfectly on a day-to-day basis, in any of these areas. In a perfect world, I’d agree that more land should be designated as wilderness. But in our” real world”, the way things actually work, I’m not so sure. It could be all that would be accomplished would be another layer of bureaucracy.

One of the greatest pressures on “wild” and or currently unused land is the growth of population, in the United States and everywhere else. Many of our current political and economic problems appear to be caused by an ever-increasing number of people exploiting our planet. So…

I don’t have a definitive answer, but a question comes to mind. Why aren’t we all, politicians and religious leaders included, talking about population control along with discussions about the need to protect our environment, our economy, our very future?

Posted Jul 13, 2006 12:00 am

ScottRe: Is it really a fact?

Scott

Hasn't voted

Thanks for reading the article.

I like your article and found it thought provoking, for myself and obviously for a few others, as is shown from the comments made so far. Thank you. However, I believe you may find that if you base your opinions exclusively on the life experiences which YOU have had, in future you could possibly find that you had reached erroneous conclusions. Everyone of us is guilty of this, over and over and over and…

Which specific point would you disagree with?

Anyway, of course it is actually from my life experiences. That’s why the topic and my viewpoint is personal, and in my own words instead of cut and pasted from another source.

“Wilderness is for everybody. …” You state this as a fact. But is it?

Yes, anyone can go there, except if unfortunately handicapped, if they choose to go. It is for everyone. Check out this thread below to see whom was just on one of the three most remote 14000 feetpeaks in Colorado.

THREAD

Yes, wilderness is for (I should say almost) everyone, as there are exceptions for every single rule out there. Almost all the time, they are only locked out if they choose to be. I never said that wilderness is what everyone should and will choose, only they can go there if they choose to, and it isn’t locking them out. Therefore, it is for everyone. Also, even if one never sets foot in the wilderness, but that enjoys the view of unscarred land (several wilderness areas form the skylines of some metro areas), they are still a wilderness user.

Granted, the “official” congressional definition of wilderness coincides with what you claim. But, in practice, on the ground, this does not always turn out to be the case.

For instance, I know of cases within 100 miles of my home, where people with grazing permits have “fenced” (yes, real fences with posts and wires) other wilderness users off the land (I’ve heard rumors that “grazing” is sometimes protected with firearms, though I must admit that is hearsay – the act of fencing is not hearsay). Illegal? Yes.


Agreed. I’ve ran into certain incidents as well.

We have cases of licensed outfitters cutting clearings and constructing buildings in designated wilderness in order to make life more comfortable for paying clients. Illegal? Definitely.

Illegal ATV and snowmobile use? Yeah, we have that too.


Yep, all that can happen. Seen it myself too.

Unfortunately the government’s “official protectors of the wilderness” have so little money to work with, there is no way the law can be entirely enforced.

Agreed here too. We can spend possibly trillions on Iraq, but not here, but that’s a whole different topic for the P&P, so I won’t bring it up.

What happens “on the ground”, is that local officers in each area are forced to make choices about what they will be able to do. Often their choices are not the ones some of us would hope for, but then there is an old saying about “reasonable men…”.

Yep. Not all the locals enforce the laws either. Some are even the opposite. In parts of Utah, law enforcement officers actually remove and destroy wilderness signs.

Unfortunately, things don’t always work out perfectly on a day-to-day basis, in any of these areas.

Agree, and they never will work perfect, just like anything else on earth.

In a perfect world, I’d agree that more land should be designated as wilderness. But in our” real world”, the way things actually work, I’m not so sure.

Here’s where we’ll agree to disagree. Just because people are going to break the law, doesn’t mean land shouldn’t be saved in my opinion. Designated wilderness is a step and not foolproof.

I don’t have a definitive answer, but a question comes to mind. Why aren’t we all, politicians and religious leaders included, talking about population control along with discussions about the need to protect our environment, our economy, our very future?

Probably because it’s a whole different topic. Personally, I’m not worried about the population if they will take care of the land. As far as discussion about the need to protect the environment, I don’t know why politicians and religious leaders don’t discuss that. It would be nice if they did, but they are usually focused on other topics. Since I'm not a politician, nor a religious leader, I can't speak for them.
Posted Jul 13, 2006 12:36 am

Daniel Loganola

Daniel Logan

Hasn't voted

you da man scott! thanks
Posted Jun 7, 2007 5:34 pm

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