June 19, 2019

Republicans Defeat Attempt to Ban Wheelchairs, Bikes and Strollers from Public Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 13, 2017 –

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 1349. Introduced by Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA), the bill clarifies that the Wilderness Act never intended for a universal ban of wheelchairs, adaptive cycles, bicycles, and other human-powered implements in wilderness areas.

“This bill advances one of the principal objectives of the Federal Lands Subcommittee: to restore public access to our public lands.  When the House considered the Wilderness Act in June of 1964, the record is clear that its framers intended that the term “mechanical transport” be applied to non-human-powered vehicles like motorcycles – not human-powered devices like bicycles. Bicycles were allowed in wilderness areas from the inception of the Act in 1964 until 1977, when the Forest Service reinterpreted the act to ban them.  Bicycles peacefully co-exist with backpacking, hiking, horseback riding and packing on any other public lands – and they did for many years in Wilderness areas.  This bill only removes the current blanket prohibition against bicycles and other forms of human-powered locomotion established by bureaucratic regulation.  It in no way interferes with the discretion provided in other regulations and laws that gives land managers the ability to close or restrict the use of trails according to site-specific conditions. This bill restores this principle for America’s mountain bikers on our public lands,” Rep. McClintock stated.

“This bill prevents unelected bureaucrats from arbitrarily banning bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs from our public lands,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) said. “Public lands should be open to all Americans. It is shocking to see self-proclaimed defenders of public lands in Congress vote to perpetuate a permanent ban on bikers, parents, the disabled, or certain hunters from accessing public lands. I’m proud to stand with Rep. McClintock in fighting for American citizens who are tired of government officials telling them they can’t  enjoy our nation’s public lands.”

Click here to learn more about the bill.

Background:

Congress enacted the Wilderness Act in 1964 to create a National Wilderness Preservation System that would “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” Generally, the law prohibits commercial activities and motorized uses in wilderness areas.

Non-motorized bicycles were allowed in wilderness areas from the inception of the Act until 1977, when the U.S. Forest Service reinterpreted the law to ban them. Since then, federal regulators, acting in direct contradiction to the Act’s original intent, have imposed severe restrictions on public access to wilderness.

H.R. 1349 clarifies that federal land managers may allow bicycles, strollers, wheelbarrows, survey wheels, measuring wheels, or game carts on wilderness lands.

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Bill to Prevent Draconian Public Access Restrictions Under Wilderness Act Draws Praise

Press Release from the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources:

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 7, 2017 –

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on four bills. Among those bills considered at the hearing, H.R. 1349, introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA), would restore the original intent of the Wilderness Act and improve land access to disabled veterans, families and the elderly by clarifying that bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs are permitted in wilderness areas.

Congress enacted the Wilderness Act in 1964 to create a National Wilderness Preservation System that would “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” Generally, the law prohibits commercial activities and motorized uses in wilderness areas.

Non-motorized bicycles were allowed in wilderness areas from the inception of the Act, until 1977, when the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) reinterpreted the law to ban them.

“Congress meant to exclude roads, permanent infrastructure and motors, not human-powered visitors who leave no permanent trace, Ted Stroll, President of the Sustainable Trails Coalition, said. Thus, H.R. 1349 does not materially amend the Wilderness Act of 1964. Rather, it restores the Act to its original meaning.”

Rep. McClintock pressed the panel on how the bicycle ban was originally implemented: “So the ban was strictly imposed by an unelected bureaucrat, is that correct?,” McClintock asked“Yes,” Stroll responded.

Conservationists like Stroll and key legislative backers of the original law, including Senator Frank F. Church (D-ID), have criticized restrictive interpretations as contrary to the law’s intent.  “If Congress had intended that wilderness be administered in so stringent a manner, we would never have written the law as we did,” Church stated, following USFS’s 1977 interpretation.

At the time he signed the Wilderness Act, President Lyndon B. Johnson noted, “[For cyclists and others] we must have trails as well as highways.”

Nevertheless, under the prevailing interpretation, “bicycles, strollers, and any human-powered wheeled conveyance are banned in an area larger than all of California, for no environmental reason,” Stroll stated.

“[The predictable opposition to H.R. 1349] will come from the Wilderness industry, an enterprise comprising people with strong ideological opposition to human activity in public lands, commercial pack outfitters, and organizations that raise money by scaring people that Congress will abolish Wilderness or dilute it of all recognition,” Stroll added. The latter are almost certain to tell the gullible that H.R. 1349 is part of that ultimate goal.”

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Suing to Protect “Wilderness” Wolves is Hypocrital Nonsense

FrankChurch*Update* – January 13, 2014, 3:45 p.m. Scroll to bottom of page.

Recently the Idaho Department of Fish and Game(IDFG), along with the U.S. Forest Service, provided for a person to go into the Frank Church River of no Return Wilderness for the purpose of eliminating 2 of the 6 packs of wolves living there. The major reason given is that too many wolves are destroying too many elk.

Environmentalists are having a fit and have launched a lawsuit to stop the action claiming that because the Frank Church is designated “wilderness” it is, “supposed to be a wild place governed by natural conditions…” Is that a justifiable statement and one that has been adhered to?

In 1980, the U.S. Congress designated 2.367-million acres in Central Idaho as Wilderness and later in 1984 named this the Frank Church River of no Return Wilderness. According to the National Park Service, part of the definitions provided in the “Wilderness Act” of “wilderness” is, “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Surely it would be difficult to argue that upon designation of any “wilderness” areas in any U.S. held territories, it is impossible to find any areas of land where man has not been, at least to some extent. Therefore, upon creation of a label, to be placed on a piece of land as “wilderness”, how can it be truly wilderness, even by definition of “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain?” It obviously can’t be and so a starting point must be established.

For the Frank Church, that starting point was in 1980. The Wilderness Act further defines wilderness as, “an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions . . . ”

Natural condition? What is a “natural condition” and by whose standards and perspective does a “natural condition” exist? The Wilderness Act further defines “natural condition” as, “generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable.” Two arguments could be made from this one statement: 1.) Perhaps the Frank Church didn’t qualify for wilderness designation because according to some, man left his imprint by killing off the wolves many decades ago. I would consider that substantial when you consider the destruction wolves cause, and 2.) If Congress see to it that the Frank Church did qualify as a wilderness, then, was man’s imprint responsible for killing off the wolves in that area? Again, that’s substantial. If not, then didn’t man mess up and further expand his imprint by introducing wolves? When does this all end? Or does it and can it be due to the wording of yet another vague act that leads us to believe that all are designed for lawyers and somebody’s profit margins.

If we abide by the premise that at the point the Frank Church was designated a “wilderness”, nothing should change from the best possible scenario of it being in a “natural condition” at that moment in time. From that time man should not “trammel” the wilderness and that man should be nothing more than a visitor.

It appears that from the perspective of some environmentalists, they want the wolves, wilderness and “trammeling”, I suppose thinking that so long as they can create the wilderness as they believe it once was, or should be, right or wrong they are abiding by the contents of the “Wilderness Act.” However, when anyone else, that is those who are not “all in” with protecting wolves at any and all costs, attempts to manage or manipulate the “natural condition” of the Frank Church, they deserve to be stopped by filing a lawsuit.

I’m not sure that the Wilderness Act states that an area of land will be designated a wilderness as soon as it is returned to its “natural condition”; and when was the very first “natural condition?” And what was that condition? In addition, does the Wilderness Act also state that every effort, or even any effort, should be made to restore a “wilderness” to someone’s perceived notion of what it was like back when…….when…..well, I don’t know when. I guess someone with the money and power gets to decide and thus the lawsuit.

For the sake of rational discourse, let’s say that on the day that the Frank Church became “wilderness”, the state that this wilderness was in was officially recognized at “natural condition.” From this point forward, no more “trammeling”, only visitation rights by man in a limited fashion, no more development, and there is to be a management process that keeps the wilderness in a “natural condition.”

If we accept that premise, then wasn’t the Wilderness Act violated when it was decided in January of 1994 when 4 wolves were released at Corn Creek on the edge of the Frank Church and again in January of 1996 when 20 wolves were dumped at Dagger Falls, also at the edge of the Frank Church? Clearly the intent of releasing the wolves here was in hopes that they would move into the Frank Church and set up housekeeping. And did those who released the wolves know they couldn’t dump the wolves directly into the Frank Church? Or did they do it anyway? Some believe they did.

Even if we are willing to accept the notion that releasing wolves into the Frank Church was a management process that somehow kept the Frank Church in a “natural condition”, then how can it be denied that man is necessary for the proper management of wildlife? How can it then be said the IDFG has no right to manage the rest of the wildlife in that wilderness? It makes no sense.

If man became necessary in a “wilderness” area, by the wishes of those involved with wolf introduction, to introduce wolves, then how can one honestly argue that man is not necessary in a “wilderness” area to manage other species such as elk? Isn’t the survival of the elk part of the “natural condition?” If it’s not, then neither was introducing wolves. Perhaps “natural condition” is never stable.

The “natural condition” of the Frank Church was determined on the day the U.S. Congress designated the 2.367-million acres “wilderness.” That “natural condition,” by definition of the Wilderness Act, was violated on the day wolves were introduced into the Frank Church area. Are we now supposed to redefine Frank Church’s “natural condition” on the whims of environmentalists whose main objective is to make as much money as they can suing the government?

If one wants to make the argument that now that wolves are in the Frank Church, this begins a new “natural condition” starting point, then the same argument can be made that killing some wolves in order to protect the “natural condition” starting point prior to wolf introduction, is just as necessary and viable.

And this is much the hypocrisy we see on an everyday basis with environmentalist and animal rights groups; they want their cake and eat it too. When they don’t get their way they sue.

I have my doubts as to the real motives of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game(IDFG). While some are congratulating the effort to hire a trapper to go into the Frank Church and kill wolves to save elk, I’m more of the skeptic who still finds it difficult to believe that a zebra can change his stripes. Has anyone considered the possibility that IDFG’s actions play into the hands of the environmentalists? That these groups want or need a reason to sue, to make more money to bring more lawsuits to protect their wolves, and on and on it goes? Certainly this is not a new idea!

As with the Endangered Species Act, it is so poorly defined allowing lawyers to twist and manipulate, now are we to expect these same environmentalist crooks to manipulated the Wilderness Act for profit?

What double standard, hypocrisy nonsense!

*Update* –

From the Seattle PI – http://www.seattlepi.com/news/…

“The conservation groups contend the large-scale removal of wolves contravenes federal 1964 Wilderness Act because it threatens to change the character of the large wilderness area.”

To bolster my article above, if those suing Idaho and the Forest Service claim that “large-scale removal of wolves” from the Frank Church, threatens to “change the character of the large wilderness area,” what in the hell did these morons think introducing wolves INTO the Frank Church was going to do, if not “change the character” of the wilderness that then existed?

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