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Want wilderness? Work together

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:Approximately four years ago, with the Roadless Rule pending approval by President Bill Clinton, I pointed out to wilderness and environmental groups that this was an abuse of presidential power, creating de facto wilderness. My letter appeared in this very paper. I went on to point out that the political pendulum was likely to change and that as such, these groups should be wary of setting such precedents in the use of executive powers.Nostradomus I’m not, but there is something to be said for thinking things through. Here we are, it’s 2004 and oh my God, the president is doing things with our national lands without consulting the House or Senate. Surprised? I would further remind you that, at the time, I also pointed out that groups such as the Blue Ribbon Coalition were seeking to establish new land-use designations that protected certain lands from extractive industry but still allowed a number of recreational uses. I suggested that wilderness groups might achieve greater success in protecting our lands from logging, mining and drilling by working with other user groups and pursuing new ideas in land use designation. The recent history of wilderness and environmental groups has been one of a campaign against motorized users and of having a narrow focus on the creation of wilderness or using the somewhat subversive means of the Roadless Rule to create wilderness. That these groups are led by persons apparently unwilling to see the value of compromise or the problems inherent in alienating millions of users of public lands leads me to wonder if these groups have not themselves done more harm than good?How many millions of private and federal dollars were invested in a scheme that relied on the whim of a president? Was that good science? The creation of new wilderness areas is a costly, time-consuming and slow process often mired in controversy. The current political climate is certainly not conducive to the creation of new wilderness. Instead of quoting a guy (Pat O’Donnell) who makes his living from three mountains covered in roads and lift towers, this paper might do well to encourage people that want to keep logging, mining and drilling out of their favorite places to seek this as a common ground and pursue protection of our lands without dividing the users of those lands. Wilderness groups, in seeing most of their Clinton-era gains now lost, have to understand the need for a broader base of support as well as goals that are not so narrowly defined or exclusionary toward other users. Wilderness groups, instead of moaning about Bush for the next week, maybe you should pick up the phone and speak to representatives of some of the groups that you have so recently alienated, and seek ways to work together to provide significant, durable protection for our public lands. Protection that is not based on the occupant of the oval office. Marco DiazRedstone


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