Wilderness Elimination

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Tue Jun 20 01:29:36 EST 1995

  Here in Utah, there has been a series of public hearings on Wilderness
designation under the aegis of Rep Jim Hansen, R-Utah, Enid Waldholtz,
R-Utah, governor Mike Leavitt, R-Utah, and more.  Originally, they met
with special mining interests behind closed doors and sought input from
commissioners and planners from outlying rural areas as to how much land
should be designated "wilderness" and thus carry the protections that go
along with it. 
  No big suprize, but the miners, loggers, and cattle ranchers sought 
minimal wilderness designation of a mere 1.2 million acres.  The 
commissioners, seeing the possibilities of "development" dollars in their 
coffers, asked that NO land be designated.
  The public outcry over these closed and staged "open hearings" was great
and lead to numerous REAL public hearings on the matter.  A large
coalition of citizens and groups appeared at the hearings and
OVERWHELMINGLY supported a designation of 5.7 million acres.  These were
NOT just a bunch of environmental "extremists" but were regular citizens. 
In EVERY subsequent open public hearing, a smooth ~90% of those who
appeared favored 5.7 million acres of wilderness designation and
protection.  This clearly took the representatives by suprize. 
  All the local news media, liberal and conservative, reported the truth, 
that a vast majority of the public was clearly for 5.7 million acres 
(barely 10% of all Utah land) yet the Republican REPRESENTATIVES ignored 
this fact.  Their constituents were quite clear on what they wanted but 
the Republican members instead decided that mining companies, logging 
companies, and a small number of ranchers are more important than real 
voters and real people.  They chose to favor the small special interests 
over public desire and public interest.  By the way, it is Rep Hansen who 
has called for a "Park Closure Commission" based on the model of the 
military "Base Closure Commission" for the purpose of closing 
"undesireable" parks. 

  Rep Hansen is also quoted as saying of the Great Basin National 
Monument, "that I've been there and seen it once and that was enough."  
He went on to state that it wasn't HIS idea of what a park should be and 
that to him, the only worthy parks and wilderness areas are those like 
Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.  The rest cant POSSIBLY be any good.
This man is a philistine and a true fool.  There are other Republicans in 
Congress just as stupid and shortsighted, or even more so (Rep Young, 
R-Alaska, for one...see "Environmental havoc" post).  

This all demonstrates in the clearest possible manner that the 
Republicans are not at all interested in what their constituents want 
unless the constituents want to destroy the land for the sake of 
squeezing out a few paltry dollars on the short term.  It shows quite 
clearly that they are bought and paid for by VERY narrow special interests.

As members of the public that they are SUPPOSED to represent, we have an 
obligation and a requirement to DEMAND that they listen to the public and 
NOT the special interests.  The Utah Wilderness Debacle is just the tip 
of the iceburg.  The Republicans are out to ignore real citizens and only 
want to serve their master, the short-term buck.  Stop them.  The force 
of public opinion CAN bring them around to serving the people again.  
Make it clear to them that they do NOT have carte blanche to do whatever 
strikes their fancy in servitude to special interests.

Let Utah be a lesson and an example.  They are only paying lipservice to 
the idea that they serve the public.


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