Tuesday, 01 July 2008 00:00

No More Wilderness!!!

Written by Cecil Fredi
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Reprinted from The Nevada Rancher, May 2008


Currently, there are many states that are getting proposed federal land cancer, also known as wilderness. I fought against wilderness in our state (Nevada) to no avail twenty years ago. Basically, wilderness is a cancer afflicting people who want to use federal lands for multiple use.


Let’s look at wilderness with a completely wide open mind. Just what the hell is it and just what good or bad does it do? Before we get into breaking it down, let’s define wilderness. The Federal Wilderness Act defines wilderness as an area of 5,000 acres or more of uninterrupted and non-manipulated environment. There are four federal agencies that can restrict land use. They are The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.


In reality, the enforcement of wilderness is one giant grey area determined by the law enforcement official standing in front of you while you are in a wilderness area. During the hearings on wilderness, horse enthusiasts thought they would have wilderness all to themselves without the nuisance of motorized vehicles. They have found out the hard way that the ranger’s interpretation of wilderness can be the real nuisance. Let me give you some horror stories of incidents that I am aware of which happened in wilderness areas.


A friend of mine, along with some of his buddies, was on a camping trip in a wilderness area in the State of Washington. Two rangers watched them set up their entire camp. Following the completion of their camp setup, the rangers made them split up their camp. The reason was that there were only twelve heartbeats allowed per camp. A horse, a dog or a human each counts as one heartbeat.  They had to relocate some of their camp about 50 yards away.


Another friend of mine was informed during a rain storm that he would have to move his camp as he was camping on a natural trail. The ranger did not want to hear that my friend had been camping there for many years prior to it becoming a wilderness area. He made them break down their camp during the rain storm. In addition, when he went to tie his horse up to a tree, the ranger stated that he wasn’t allowed to do that as he may risk breaking the branch.


I guided in the Bob Wilderness Area of Montana for five years. I have first -hand knowledge of just how bad wilderness can be.  I worked for a guiding outfit which was owned by the late Lloyd West. I asked Lloyd what was the worst thing he could think of regarding wilderness. After a long pause, he replied, “The book that governs wilderness.” Years later I realized exactly what he meant.


Let’s take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Let’s put a heading on the left side entitled “Why we should have wilderness”.  The only item I could justify under this column would be that every state needs a few, very few acres for the preservation for future generations. Again, very few acres, certainly not the 107 million acres which we presently have and our government requesting more.


Now let’s put a heading on the right side, “Why we should not have wilderness”.  Hunters, fishermen, senior citizens, disabled, and everyone else who uses a motorized vehicle will not be able to use the land. Forest fires cannot be fought. Remember the Yellowstone Park fire? New species of game, birds or fish cannot be introduced. A classic example of this happened in Nevada when sportsmen wanted to introduce ruffed grouse near the Jarbidge Wilderness Area. The Forest Service denied introduction even though it was not in a wilderness area.  The denial came because a bird might someday make its way into the wilderness area! There is no game management in a wilderness area such as water developments in our desert. In Arizona, existing water developments had to be removed when it became a wilderness area. There will be no oil, gas or mineral development. I could go on and on and make the right side column extremely long but by now I believe you have the picture, that this is a one-sided event. The question to ask is “why is something so bad being allowed to proliferate?”


When the feds decide to take your land for wilderness, here is how they do it. First they will lock up an exorbitant amount of land for a wilderness study area. For the sake of a number, let’s say that they lock up 4 million acres. All rules apply to this land just as if it were a wilderness area, in other words, no motorized vehicles, etc.  For years, they study and hold public hearings on the proposed land. This process is to keep many government employees working because public input is just a formality. In the end, they will lock up the absolute choice land for wilderness. Let’s say that is only a million acres. Now people are so grateful because they release the other 3 million acres. However, they forget about the loss of the choice million acres.


Twenty years ago I thought that wilderness was an anti-hunting measure. Take away the land and you will basically eliminate hunting. However today, I am convinced that it is more than just an anti-hunting measure.  Remember when U.S. currency was backed with gold? This meant paper money had real value. I remember having one and five dollar bills that were marked “silver certificate”. It meant that those paper bills could be turned in to redeem that amount of silver.


That’s not the case today as our currency is a step above Monopoly money. It is not backed by gold or silver anymore.  But one item our government has and is continuing to accumulate is millions of acres of land. This land has to be worth trillions of dollars. I believe the land is used instead of gold or silver to back up our currency. Until someone can come up with a more logical reason to remove land from multiple use, I will stick to this opinion.  I will never ever believe the “greenies” need millions of acres of land just for them, especially when they don’t use it!


Cecil Fredi is president of HUNTER’S ALERT and has resided in Las Vegas, Nevada for 65 years. For more information about Nevada wildlife issues, log on to www.huntersalert.org.

Last modified on Sunday, 18 April 2010 11:33
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