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To environmental activists, 'balance' means their way


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  • To environmental activists, 'balance' means their way

    I will post what information I run across in full content .
    This is not my writing, just me passing on the information

    To environmental activists, 'balance' means their way

    By Steve Williams

    In an editorial Wednesday (Daily Press - "It's public land, so stay out"), we said that what we were concerned with about environmental activists was that they are so incredibly unyielding in their opposition to the public's use of public land, particularly that land in the Mojave Desert, a major share of which is contained within the borders of San Bernardino County.

    Mr. Patterson argues that more than 16,000 miles of roads in the California Desert Conservation Area provide public, motorized access to some 600,000 acres in that area, and that asking for more is unconscionable.

    "These greedy industry groups," he says, "want excess, not access. Environmentalists, on the other hand, are supporting balanced management and multiple uses of the public lands."

    The opposite is true

    We think the exact opposite is true. In the first place, there are 8 million (8 million!) acres involved here, and public access unless you are afoot is limited to less than 10 percent of that acreage. The rest is off limits to all but the hardiest backpackers.

    In the second place, when Mr. Patterson starts talking about cattle grazing, among other things, what he and other environmental activists really want is for all cattle and ranchers to be barred from that land. He claims that only 3 percent of all beef produced in the country comes from cattle grazed on government land, but that's not the point. The point is that ranchers whose cattle graze that land have been in the business for years and years and years, they're putting the land to its highest and best use, and they take care of it far better than government can or does.

    The deep end

    But he goes off the deep end when he says environmentalists "are supporting balanced management and multiple uses of the public lands." Is that why the activists have strained so mightily to close off the forests on public land to any kind of logging, including thinning, an effort that has led directly to the loss of millions of acres of trees and concomitant habit for all sorts of wildlife? Or why they oppose exploring for oil on 2,000 acres of land (in a region that covers millions of square miles) in the Alaska National Reserve as a means to end America's dependence on foreign oil? We're all paying higher gasoline and energy prices because of such muddle-headed thinking.

    And if they do believe in "balance" why is it that you can't find an environmental activist anywhere in the United States who supports George W. Bush's nomination of Mike Leavitt as the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency? Leavitt, who's left his job as governor of Utah to accept the nomination, has been widely praised for, among other things, leading the cleanup of the brown haze over the Grand Canyon. Leavitt has called for a federalization of national standards coupled with flexible local solutions, a preference for market-based approaches to the environment over expensive, government-dictated mandates, and a collaboration between representatives of opposite ends of the environmental debate.

    Rejecting offers to communicate

    In other words, Mr. Leavitt wants to sit down and discuss environmental questions with both sides, aimed at negotiating sensible, responsible, affordable solutions agreeable to all.

    And how do the activists feel about Mr. Leavitt? The Sierra Club says he's a "disappointing choice" for the EPA, and the National Environmental Trust (another environmental activist group unwilling to even consider discussing alternatives to closing off public lands to the public) said his appointment was "like putting John Ashcroft in charge of the ACLU." (That's not a bad idea, actually; Mr. Ashcroft might get the ACLU involved in serious causes rather than frivolity).

    In other words, the activists are not interested in a common-sense approach, and will resist usually through the courts any attempt to arrive at a solution which allows any "public" land to do anything but lie fallow.

    We consider such views not only wasteful, but arrogantly elitist in their contempt for the public at large.

    Copyright 2003 Daily Press
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