Monday, December 20, 2010

Western Land Grab

Ken Salazar and his group are planning on locking up even more of the West, banning drilling, mining, oil exploration, logging, and roads. The idea of the federal government taking over even more of our lands and making it wilderness and limited access bothers me a great deal.

  Do I think we need more? NO!  Even today, if someone wants to get "lost" in the wilderness and not see anyone for days, they can do it.  No cars, no TV, no radios or cell phones.  Why do we need to lock up more?

The more land we lock up, the less there is available for the multitudes. At my age I can no longer spend the time or effort getting into the back-country. If more lands are made wilderness, the fewer people that will be able to actually use it. And if my tax money is going to be used for any sort of wilderness up-keep (trail maint., Ranger salaries) then I should have the ability to get to at least some of it. I don’t suggest building a road to the China Wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. But locking up more land has a way of excluding a lot of people. I remember years ago being able to get nearly to the Trinity Alps in northern California by using the network of logging roads. No longer with all of the other areas around the wilderness locked up via road-less designations.  People could at least get near enough to really enjoy the views, but no longer. Now only the youngest and hardiest can get there. It is getting to the point where the only way most of us can see much of the wild areas of our country is from the pictures that some intrepid environmental photographer brings back. Somehow I think this might actually be what the goal is for the enviro-wackos. Lock up lots of USA land so as to reduce the usage to nearly nothing and the elite can wander about and dream of what it was like when the American Indians roamed the land. All of this enjoyment of vast tracts of our western lands for a few elites, all on the taxpayer dime. Somehow, I don’t think that is fair.

Some will point out that we need to protect these areas form development by the resource extraction companies. Why would we want to do that when we are in need of these resources? While no resource extraction is completely benign to the environment, we have evolved to a point where we can minimize the damage to a localize issue. Gov’t regulations can keep the companies reined in enough to minimize the damages while at the same time making us more energy independent. If we begin to run out of resources do you really think that the federal gov’t will keep those areas locked up forever, never touching them when there is oil, gas and other resources available? If we are still an oil based economy (and we mostly likely will be to some degree), the feds will open up those lands. And if we are desperate for these resources, will we care what condition the resources extractors leave the land once they are finished? Wouldn’t it be better to get to those resources under strict rules and regulations well before those are thrown out in a last minute grab of those resources? Now is the time to make the companies act like good stewards of the land. Make them impact the area a little as possible that technology allows. Make them clean up once they are done. Because if we need those resources at a time when we are desperate, the extractors won’t do it on their own and the gov’t won’t require it.

It is kind of like danged if you do and danged if you don’t. But if we allow it now, then the enviro-wackos can control how it is accomplished and they won’t be afforded that opportunity later on.

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