Liberty Matters News Service, News
(LMNS May 25, 20201) The Washington Times published an editorial last month entitled “Embracing the GOP’s Conservative Heritage,” that illustrates the naivety of those Republicans that buy into the radical environmental agenda. The article was written by Craig Shirley, author of four books on President Ronald Reagan, and called on Senators to support the massive Wilderness bill H.R. 803, passed by the U.S. House last February, currently awaiting action in the Senate.
However, H.R. 803 is not a bill creating new National Parks, as Mr. Shirley described. It is a Wilderness bill, creating over 1.5 million acres of new Wilderness, led by Democrat Congresswoman DeGette who does not live in nor represent the area where this bill attempts to impose the highly restrictive land designations.
Wilderness areas prohibit all entrance of motorized vehicles and equipment. This means that only the most athletic of the general public can access the area, including hunters who must pack out their game. These lands are managed to retain the natural state.
Translation: no management, including fire suppression. Predators dominate, creating a monoculture of wildlife reducing grazing animals. And, without the grazers you also create a monoculture of plants and trees. This turns the lands into a tinder box, and when fire sparks, federal managers follow the “let it burn policy,” nature taking its course. This burns up more than just the land. It kills wildlife, endangered species, destroys habitat, and sterilizes the soil inhibiting natural recovery.
Additionally, the lack of biodiversity created over time in these areas dries up the watershed, reducing the flows into our rivers.
Why is the West wrought by massive wildfires every year? Democrats blame man-made climate change, but those who follow these issues more closely rightfully blame failed federal policies that are destroying our lands, and ill-advised efforts like H.R. 803 that focus on the romanticism of America’s beautiful lands. They want to convince lawmakers to lock out the producers who provide the essential services that keep our lands pristine.
Take a close look at the map created by Garfield County, Colorado, where Representative DeGette seeks to create more wilderness through her bill. The map shows the wildfire risk in existing and proposed wilderness areas using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The areas showing the highest risk for wildfires (shown in deep red), are the areas Rep. DeGette seeks to lock up under the “no management” wilderness designation.
H.R. 803 is more than just a Wilderness bill, however. It also seeks to permanently withdraw 1.2 million acres from mineral development, in an area of our nation that is home to the essential rare earth minerals we need for high tech devices, batteries, and our national defense. We currently import over 80% of these minerals from Europe and China. That fact alone should give Senators good reason to reject this bill, on both sides of the aisle.
It is well past time that our nation reconsider our federal land management policies, such as Wilderness designations. The conversation needs to begin with the people who live in and care for the areas directly impacted. Before we trust the management of more of our lands to the environmental elites — and endanger more lives — we should discard the romantic rhetoric, persuasive polling of those not directly connected to the land and listen to the people whose livelihoods depend on improving the natural resources Americans treasure.