Mountain biker. Photo by wordcat57, Courtesy of Flickr.
It feels like we are entering a new era for protecting America’s wild rivers, snow-capped mountains, canyon country, and other wilderness lands. It is about time.
In the final days of any administration in Washington, both good and bad ideas are pushed through. In the case of the current administration, the ideas that have surfaced on environmental issues are stomach-turning. This administration plans to make use of their remaining 75 days, with several anti-conservation initiatives, policies, and schemes they aim to put in place before leaving office. We are keeping our eyes on them, and we’ve got to make sure that we show how thoroughly the public strongly disagrees with these last-minute actions that could damage our wild lands and wildlife.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
- An attempt to weaken recent victories over snowmobiles at Yellowstone
A court ruling required the Park Service to develop a temporary plan for this winter to make sure the public can visit Yellowstone while protecting its air, quiet, and wildlife. While the recently released plan starts to move in a positive direction, the proposed number of snowmobiles is still excessive and damaging.
- Off-road vehicle abuse and unyielding energy development in Utah Canyon Country
Imagine a starry night in the middle of the red rock canyon country of southern Utah. It is perhaps one of the most unique American wilderness experiences. Rather than protecting the wilds of Utah, the Bureau of Land Management is prioritizing energy development and off-road vehicle use on nearly 5 million acres that the agency found to have wilderness character. This plan is just a nod to the oil and gas and off-road vehicle industries with no regard for wildlands that Americans may want to share with future generations. We need to fight to stop these plans from being implemented.
- Concealed weapons in our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges?
This controversial new rule proposed by the Bush Administration would overturn a long-standing, functional and respected firearm policy that prohibits loaded, assembled firearms on public lands to prevent poaching and protect cultural resources and visitors. The recent proposal would unnecessarily negatively alter the culture of our national icons.
- Excluding the public in mountain bike trail planning
The Bush Administration is pushing to change regulations that would eliminate the public from designating mountain biking trails inside national parks. This means two things: 1) even mountain bikers won’t have a say in new trails and 2) trails could cut through areas that should be considered for Wilderness designation. This is an unnecessary policy change as this Administration prepares to leave.
So, please get ready to write some comments and send a clear message to the next administration that we need it to right-the-wrong on these bad last-minute decisions.