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.
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.
Rural county resident, highway and road engineer, SUV owner, and wilderness advocate.