Can’t hear the shouting
September 25, 2009
I was amused by the last paragraph of a letter from Jerry McRae of Edwards in opposition to the proposed Hidden Gems wilderness bill. He calls proponents “selfish, inconsiderate and self righteous.” He also refers to those backing the designation as “environmental extremists in Washington, DC.” Let’s take a look at the realities.
Those individuals who have contributed months, even years of their time in researching and crafting the legislation which would be protected by Hidden Gems are about as unselfish as people can be. They are not “extremists” from Washington,, D.C., but local people who entirely unselfishly have come together to try to protect some of the last remaining parcels of the wild America that was our national heritage. This is not for themselves, it is for their children and grandchildren and future generations and for the protection of especially pristine places and the wildlife that lives within them. Mr. McRae approaches the proposal from an entirely different perspective, entirely self-serving. He would insist on being able to use these special places as his playground, motorcycling, ORVing, snowmobiling, etc. to his heart’s content along with the thousands of other acres of national forest he can readily access. He complains that public land should not be “taken from the public.” What the Hidden Gems would do is keep the lands public and out of private hands, hopefully forever. He also brings up the shopworn argument of loss of income to his valley as a result of restricted access. This is, and always has been, a shortsighted approach, that we sacrifice irreplaceable things and places for the almighty dollar. The dollars get spent and the places become lost forever.
I would wager that those who have spent extraordinary time and effort in crafting this proposed legislation would, if required, gladly agree to never set foot in these places again if it would somehow ensure their perpetual protection. So much for their “selfishness.” When David Brower of the Sierra Club was working on Wilderness legislation in Washington, D.C., and asked if it did not weigh on him that he was where he was and not out experiencing for himself the wilderness of the West he was working to protect he replied (paraphrased), “Just knowing it is there is all that I need.”
What is equally troubling about Mr. McRae’s letter is its mean-spiritedness. Why in our world today can’t we discuss issues in an adult and respectful way. Mr. McRae could have done that in his letter without referring to those who disagree with him as “environmental extremists, selfish, inconsiderate and self righteous.” It only accentuates his prejudices. Sad, but a sign of our times.
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