Gems proposal seriously flawed
Wilderness Workshop’s proposal is seriously flawed. Promises of wilderness and biodiversity to the public by Wilderness Workshop are very misleading and not supported by credible research.
Fact: BLM studies on endangered species conclude that “Grazing in designated wilderness areas has contributed to the demise of 22 percent of federal threatened and endangered species and 33 percent of endangered plants” – source: USDI-BLM, USDA-Forest Service.
Cliches like “preserving hundreds of thousands of acres of our beloved backcountry for future generations as a source of clean air and water and as an arc of biodiversity” does not tell the real story. I had to tighten up my poo-poo waders a bit for that marketing statement. Before we get warm and fuzzy about 400,000 acres of multiuse lands becoming mono-wilderness, let’s learn some facts. Wilderness designation won’t create an “arc of biodiversity.” Why? BLM/USFS Wilderness managers are historically obligated to recognize grazing in western rural communities and will continue to allow grazing in wilderness because of these historical precedents. Hike in our valleys and you will walk through diminished plant and animal diversity and fouled, bacteria-infused watersheds from grazing.
Wilderness Workshop’s current proposal doesn’t address this and will not improve biodiversity while excluding access of many user groups.
There is a better way.
Manage many of these areas as multiuse areas by designating them as National Protection Areas. This gives managers the tools to improve biodiversity, control grazing and include users currently alienated by Wilderness Workshop’s autocratic approach. Energy extraction can be excluded from these areas and appropriate recreational uses maintained. Motorized impacts can be repaired while access is redirected in a common-sense way. Low-impact uses like mountain bikes can remain in certain areas.
The “gems” create little “wilderness.” Without better science and public involvement, the result will be irreversible and regrettable.
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Challenge Aspen’s CEO Jeff Hauser has stepped down from the nonprofit in order “to focus on personal pursuits.”