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10Jul/04Off

ALERT: Wild Sky Wilderness

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SAWS Action Alert

Here is a link to an article I wrote last year on Wild Sky that appeared in the Blue Ribbon Coalition Magazine. It also has some facts that you may find useful. 

http://www.sharetrails.org/

This is likely to be our last chance to stop the Wild Sky Wilderness. Letters are urgently needed. I have included some information at the bottom of this email with the most recent facts from the forest service regarding the non-wilderness qualifying acres within the wilderness proposal. Please follow the instructions below. If we let this one slide through because we don't have much riding to lose, the I-90 Wilderness proposal and the Kettle River Range Wilderness proposal will already have the grease applied to let them slide right on through too.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, feel free to contact me. I am working up a new letter on this issue as we speak.

The House Resources Committee will be holding a hearing on the Murray/Larsen Wild Sky Wilderness Bill (H.R. 822) this coming Thursday, July 22nd, at 11:00 a.m.. This hearing will focus solely on H.R. 822 and not the Nethercutt/Larsen/Murray compromise wilderness proposal that has recently been reported in the press. We urgently need your help in writing/FAXing/e-mailing letters in opposition to the Murray/Larsen legislation before this coming Tuesday.  At this point, Snohomish County Councilman Jeff Sax and Snohomish County Farm Bureau member Ed Husmann have agreed to go back and testify against H.R. 822 and they are looking for our support. Ed Husmann has agreed to carry back and formally enter into the record letters in opposition provided we can get them to him in time!  Because time is of the essence, I would recommend that you mail the original of your letter directly to the House Resources Committee and FAX a copy directly to Ed Husmann at 360-793-7870 no later than Tuesday evening. The contact information for the House Resources Committee is as follows:

                                Chairman Richard Pombo
                                Committee on Resources
                                1324 Longworth House Office Building
                                Washington, D.C. 20515
                                (202)225-2761
                                (202)225-5929 FAX
                                resources.committee@mail.house.gov

The politics of Wild Sky have caused House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo to schedule this hearing at the request of George Nethercutt. In May, Chairman Pombo wrote Rick Larsen and described the criteria by which his committee would consider the Wild Sky legislation (see http://www.forestsforpeople.com/pombotolarsenletter.htm for a copy of this letter). Not surprisingly, Rick Larsen responded to Chairman Pombo in late May saying there were only 6 individuals, 3 organizations, and 1 business that were formally opposed to Wild Sky (see attached Index prepared by Larsen's office). Thus, we need to do our part to clearly and unequivocally show Chairman Pombo there is serious and broad-based opposition to Wild Sky (Note: at last count almost 1,900 individuals alone have signed a petition opposing this legislation). For your reference, a copy of the Wild Sky Legislation is attached. If we all can clearly show the House Resources Committee that Wild Sky has both serious problems and serious opposition, it is very likely that Chairman Pombo will not allow this legislation to move out of his committee.

I would further urge you to visit the Forests For People website at http://www.forestsforpeople.com which contains all of the most current information and analysis on this very important issue that would set a dangerous precedent for future wilderness proposals throughout the West.

Thanking you in advance for taking the time to do this.

_______________________________________________________________________

Here are some facts you can use from some of the letters I have written on this subject. Be sure to modify the wording some so that they do not recognize the exact same phrase from my previous letters.

The Wild Sky bill will lock up another 106,000 acres of MBSNF as Wilderness. This is Senator Murray’s little pet project and I would love to see this go down in defeat, along with Senator Murray herself. I have sent a letter to Richard Pombo requesting that he never allow this bill out of his House Resource Committee. Recreation use on the MBSNF for calendar year 2001 was 5,379,362 site visits. Included in the site visit estimate are 700,814 (13%) Wilderness visits. 13% Wilderness use! This information is not spin; it is fact from the MBSNF National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) study. The Purpose of the NVUM was to "assist Congress, Forest Service leaders, and program managers in making sound decisions that best serve the public and protect valuable natural resources by providing science based, reliable information about the type, quantity, quality and location of recreation use on public lands". This forest is currently 42% Wilderness. So if 13% of Wilderness users in MBSNF get to use 42% of the land, the other 87% of MBSNF users are squeezed onto 58% of the land. Does this seem logical? The more land that is designated as Wilderness, the more it will squeeze most forms of national forest recreation into smaller and smaller areas. This will increase the concentration of non-Wilderness recreation into smaller areas. I think we could both agree this would not be desired.

Mr. Pombo, I know that you do not personally support new wilderness designations in this country, as I do not. ALL of the new wilderness designations that could be approved are part of the big plan called the Wildlands Project, which I know you are all too familiar with. In Washington State alone, the Wild Washington Campaign is attempting to lockup an additional 3 million acres of national forest land by designating it wilderness. Wild Sky is one of many proposals that include, but are not limited to, the Kettle River Range, I-90 Wilderness study, the Dark Divide, and on and on.

I recently read your (Mr. Pombo's) book “This Land Is Our Land” for the second time. It is a very good book. Please take another look at Chapter 6 – Undisturbed by Man, and reread your concerns about the Wildlands Project. You state, “California already has 4.4 million acres in fifty-three designated wilderness areas… Large parts of this vast territory are restricted to hikers and horseback riders, meaning that most Americans will never see these areas except by airplane”. This is exactly my concern with Wild Sky and other potential wilderness designations in my state and beyond.

I believe that 106 million acres of Wilderness in the US is plenty. I would like to point out that very few of the national forest visitors recreate in Wilderness. Nationally there were 257 million site visits to our national forests in the year 2000, which included 14.3 million (5.5%) Wilderness visits. Also fire suppression becomes very difficult. Roads and forest management practices such as thinning diseased trees are not allowed in Wilderness, and in fact fire suppression is discouraged in many Wilderness areas. This only adds to horrendous wild fires that kill and destroy everything in their path for miles upon miles. The forests will not recover to their original condition for 100 years or more. This has been very obvious in our national forests recently due to decades of neglect and lack of sound forest management practices during previous administrations. There is a cure through proper forest management of our national forests, but there is no cure for this problem in any of our current Wilderness areas.

Per the most recent information from Gary Paull, Wilderness and Trails Coordinator for the Mount Baker-Snoqualimie National Forest, there are still many issues with this proposal that need to be resolved. The Forest Service would “reduce the size of the wilderness from 106,349 acres to 90,171 acres”, a difference of 16,178-acre. There are also several non-wilderness qualifying features within the proposed boundary, such as:

23.45 miles of inventoried roads within the current boundaries of the proposed wilderness. None of these roads are closed to snowmobiles.

Some of the man made structures, other than roads, inside the proposed wilderness include:

FS cabin at Lake Isabel

FS fire lookout on the top of Evergreen Mountain.

Old dam (not functioning) at the outlet of Lake Isabel

Breached concrete and rock dam at Sunset Lake.

A few cabins and a variety of mining equipment on private property in the upper Silver Creek area.

A concrete foundation for an ore processor in West Cady Creek

There are also still approximately 6,600 acres that are logged within the boundaries of the proposed wilderness.

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