Wilderness Society director: Don’t let Congress gut protections for public lands

Brent Martin works in Sylva and is Southern Appalachian Regional Director for The Wilderness Society. He has an opinion piece in the Smoky Mountain News this week expressing his dismay at Congress’ proposed rules that he says will gut many of the protections for local national forests.

…when Congress adjourned in December, it left in its wake an unprecedented amount of legislation designed to dismantle decades of laws protecting our public lands. These decades-old laws, passed under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, put the interests of the American people first, and politics second. We enter this New Year with Congress taking the opposite philosophy, and since this is an election year, we can likely count on more of it.
…The “Great Outdoors Giveaway” Act: Introduced by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, HR1581 would eliminate the Forest Service Roadless Rule, one of the most commented upon and publicly supported conservation policies in Forest Service history. This bill would open 50 million acres of currently protected land to resource extraction. Here in North Carolina it would mean that 178,000 acres of public land would no longer be protected under the Roadless Rule, and that two of our Wilderness Study Areas, Overflow and Snowbird, would lose this congressionally designated status. Former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt testified that HR 1581 “… is the most radical, overreaching attempt to dismantle the architecture of our public land laws that that has been proposed in my lifetime.”

Brent Martin can be reached by email: brent_martin@tws.org.


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