Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Wilderness Society join Blue Ribbon Coalition and Western Senators to oppose Northern Rockies Wilderness Bill.

Note: this story has been corrected in the post directly above.

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act was introduced again this year, but without the blessing of two major, um, wilderness protection groups, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and The Wilderness Society. Or so it appears from this article.

Chris Mehl of the Wilderness Society says he doesn't like the bill because wilderness bills that involve areas in Wyoming need to involve Wyoming communities. I have no idea why he thinks Wyoming people are forbidden from engaging in this debate, or to what degree he thinks wilderness bills should be dictated by state (county?) interests, and not national interests. Would the same go for National Parks?

Meanwhile, Craig Kenworthy of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition is also opposed to the bill, apparently because it would "lock out" (those are the words typically used) public lands users by prohibiting mountain biking and nordic ski-grooming in areas that he does not feel have ecological values that are disturbed by such activities.

This wilderness bill has been criticized every year it has been introduced, but usually the criticism is that it is a waste of time to propose something so sweeping (NREPA aims to designate every roadless area in the region under the Wilderness Act) because it is such a pie-in-the-sky plan. As far as I know, this is the first time that major environmental organizations have publicly criticized not just the tactics of NREPA ("Wyoming people need to be involved") but also the substance of the Act ("it locks people out").

I have to wonder why TWS would ever publicly oppose a wilderness bill that aims to close roads and protect roadless areas, and why GYC would publicly support mechanized activities over wilderness qualities around Yellowstone. But they do.



chris mehl said...

This is just silly. TWS does not oppose the bill in the story and simply says that local communities also should be involved in the process of creating Wilderness.

I find it interesting that the author, not anyone else on any posts, contacted me to ask about this issue in any way before making HUGE assumptions.

Give it a break and get back to work!
Chris Mehl

Tara Ferma said...

Does this mean that TWS will support the bill?

Chris V said...

Why would conservation groups be opposed to the bill? Because it's ridiculous! I am a supporter of wilderness, but just because a bill creates (lots of) wilderness doesn't mean it makes sense. Have you looked at the NREPA map? It would surround whole communities with wilderness, apparently right up to the forest boundary in many places. It's simply far too sweeping and huge. I believe designated wilderness should be truly wild, not right up against roads and subdivisions. Where are people supposed to recreate, get firewood, and work? GYC is right, we need to concentrate on grassroots approaches. Bills like this just inflame conservatives and fuel their hatred of environmental groups.

Chris Valiante