“Sportsmen” bill working through congress would allow ATVs in Wilderness

ATVsComing to Your Favorite Wilderness Area

Thousand Island Lake (2997m) and Banner Peak (...

May 29, 2012

The misleadingly-named “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” has wilderness-busting
provisions that could be coming to any and all of America’s wilderness
areas.

“It’s possibly the biggest threat to this nation’s wilderness areas since
the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964,” says Tom Martin, Co-Director of
River Runners for Wilderness, “even long time wilderness defenders who
thought they’d seen it all are shocked.”

HR4089 is a combination of 4 previous bills. Although there are many
debatable elements, the worst allows what were previously illegal activities
to now occur in all areas managed as wilderness under the National Park
Service, the Forest Service, and all of the nation’s Federal land agencies.

Among activities that could be allowed are ATV use, new road construction,
mining, logging and the construction of fixed structures. In fact, the most
dangerous element of this bill is that it gives managers a blank check to
allow any activities they construe as beneficial to sportsmen.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and a Senate Companion Bill
S2066 has been introduced with supporters such as the National Rifle
Association and sports industry groups urging a quick passage.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a branch of the Library of
Congress that provides in depth analysis to members of Congress and others,
outlined the threats in a recent review of the proposal. The CRS noted that
the bill’s “..language could be construed as opening wilderness areas to
virtually any activity related to hunting and fishing, even if otherwise
inconsistent with wilderness values. Despite the Wilderness Act’s explicit
ban on temporary and permanent roads, if H.R. 4089 were passed, roads
arguably could be constructed in wilderness areas.”

The report also noted that “.while it appears that timber harvest could be
allowed, it would seem difficult to harvest timber without roads or
machines.”

The entire CRS’ brief (4 page) memo is on the River Runners for Wilderness
website at http://rrfw.org/sites/default/files/CRSreport.pdf

The wilderness destroying language in this bill could easily be omitted
before final passage and we urge you to take action to insist that this is
done:

Contact your state’s Senators and ask that they not support S2066 and to
protect all provisions of The Wilderness Act.

You are also encouraged to contact lobbying supporters of HR4089 & S2066,
such as the National Rifle Association at their website, particularly if you
are a member: https://www.nraila.org/secure/contact-us.aspx and let them
know that you support the Wilderness Act as written.

You are also encouraged to write a letter to the editor of your local
newspaper. National media has largely ignored these bills and you could be
instrumental in raising awareness of the threat.

To learn more about the threats posed by this legislation, visit:
Wilderness Watch’s analysis:
http://www.wildernesswatch.org/pdf/HR%204089%20Analysis–WW.pdf.
Other advocacy group sites:
http://wilderness.org/content/sneak-attack-wilderness and
http://conservationlands.org/time-to-stop-hr-4089-in-its-tracks.

Surveys show that wilderness enjoys very broad support by our country’s
citizens and should be protected. River Runners for Wilderness will keep you
apprised of this looming disaster for our country’s precious wilderness
lands.

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Comment on Senator Udall & Senator Bennet’s wilderness proposals for Colorado

Mark Udall | United States Senator for Colorado
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Dear Fellow Coloradan,

VIDEO: Protecting our Outdoor Heritage

Rafting on the Arkansas River, Colorado, USA

Image via Wikipedia

VIDEO: Protecting our Outdoor Heritage

I kicked off a collaborative, community-driven process to listen to the community and create legislation to protect Colorado’s outdoor heritage in two very special places in our state – the Central Mountains and the Arkansas River Canyon. Watch video.

Central Mountain Maps and Comment Form

Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River Maps and Comment Form

The Arkansas River Canyon proposal would protect some of our best-loved river rafting spots along the iconic Arkansas River between Salida and Buena Vista by designating it as a national monument and the adjacent Browns Canyon as wilderness. The official designation would literally put the region on the map, drawing more visitors to the area’s world-class outdoor recreation opportunities and supporting the local tourism economy. Submit comments.

Central Mountain Maps and Comment Form

Central Mountain Maps and Comment Form

The Central Mountains proposal could encompass as many as 32 areas in Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties, expanding existing wilderness areas in the region, including Holy Cross, Eagles Nest and the Maroon Bells. Legislation could help promote the region as a world-class destination for outdoor recreation. Submit comments.

If you close your eyes and think the word “Colorado,” what comes to mind?

For me it’s towering white-capped mountains and the burning sensation in your lungs when climbing that final 100 yards to the top of a 14,000-foot mountain. For others, it might be finding the perfect spot to catch cutthroat trout or making the first tracks on a powder day.

I would hazard a guess that the first thought for many of you involved the immense natural beauty of our state and the quality of life it provides. But preserving our natural lands is about more than just protecting our quality of life – it’s about protecting our livelihood. Wilderness is one of Colorado’s great economic engines.

Activities such as hiking, skiing, paddling and fishing contribute more than $10 billion annually to our economy, supporting some 100,000 Colorado jobs and generating $500 million in state tax revenue. Wilderness ensures that skiers and hikers have beautiful vistas, anglers have clean streams in which to fish, and hunters have healthy big-game herds. These resources attract visitors from all over the nation and world.

That’s why I’m proud to launch a collaborative, community-driven process – in partnership with Senator Bennet and affected members of the House of Representatives – that I hope will ultimately allow Colorado to create legislation for wilderness and national monument designations in two areas – the Central Mountains and Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River.

I’m asking Coloradans in those communities what they would like to see from a wilderness proposal. Click here to learn about my proposals, study the maps and weigh in with your comments.

My goal is to build on work that has been done previously by other members of the Colorado delegation and develop a plan that a majority of the community agrees will support their interests and their local economies. I am proud to use my leadership position on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee to take this work to the next level. In order to facilitate the conversation with these communities, I’ve developed draft maps of possible wilderness boundaries, which will give us a firm base to compare notes and ideas.

With our population expected to double by 2050, we need to be proactive so that future generations can experience the beauty, clean water and air, and wildlife that we have today. I’m committed to ensuring that Coloradans have a wide variety of options to access public lands for recreation, including places to bike, ski and snowmobile – as well as backcountry trails and wide-open pristine lands that will be preserved for generations. I’m proud of my successful past work to designate wilderness at James Peak and in Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as the proposed San Juan Mountains Wilderness. I look forward to this process and encourage all Coloradans to join in the conversation.

Warm regards,

Mark Udall

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