Locals head to D.C. to bend some ears | AspenTimes.com

Locals head to D.C. to bend some ears

Jeremy Heiman

Some area residents are headed to Washington, D.C. this week in an attempt to balance the witness list for a Senate subcommittee hearing on future uses of the White River National Forest.

Aspen resident Charlie Tarver and Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris will attempt to be heard by the subcommittee, according to Beverly Compton, who has been invited to testify on behalf of the Aspen Wilderness Workshop. New Castle resident Gary Hubbell said he may attend, as well. The hearing is on the subject of the draft management plan for the White River National Forest.

Witnesses will be questioned on the forest plan by members of the Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.

Craig called the hearing and invited the witnesses at the request of Colorado Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell. A Campbell aide said last week that Campbell demanded the hearing because of public opposition to the selection of Alternative D by forest officials as the preferred management plan.

Supporters of the proposed forest management plan have said the list of witnesses picked by Campbell is a “stacked deck,” loaded with advocates of motorized recreation and production of goods and services from the forest. Alternative D focuses on active management for the enhancement of wildlife habitats for a variety of species, and for preservation of biodiversity.

Tarver is the owner of the Hub of Aspen, a bike shop. Hubbell is a hunting and fishing guide and outdoor writer. Both have personal economic interests dependent on recreational use of National Forest lands, and both have voiced support for the general theme of habitat preservation expressed in the plan.

Hubbell said yesterday he was told by an aide to Craig that he would not be added to the official list of witnesses scheduled to testify.

“There are no people there to represent the horseback-type users like myself. I’m a horseback outfitter,” Hubbell said.

Farris, representing Pitkin County, will presumably carry a message of support for the plan. The Board of County Commissioners is due to sign a resolution expressing support – with some reservations – Wednesday (see related story on page 3-A).

Tarver said Friday it’s an uphill battle to try to get his testimony heard, but he has been in touch with committee staffers and is trying to make arrangements to get to Washington. He said the witness list is so slanted against the forest plan that it’s important to try to get some other information to the committee by whatever means he can.

“I believe very much in the process,” Tarver said. “D is not perfect, but to try to change it at the last minute … is not the way it should be done.”

Farris could not be be reached for comment.

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