Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Ugly fences, dead cows and bulldozers

September 27, 2010

Recently I came across a blog called “Utah Trail News”. The post of September 5th caught my eye. A long-time back country user wrote an open letter to the forest service. He said that he has ridden in the back country for years, staying on the trails, choosing lighter tires and trying to do his part to protect and enjoy the outdoors.

However, he now wonders why he even bothers. He was out riding a few weeks ago and came across a gate blocking access to the ATV trail. That entire area is now charred black from the “let it burn” policies of the forest service. Says he:

Your decision to let it burn has not only cost us taxpayers many MILLIONS of dollars more than if you had put it out when you had the opportunity, but it has now burned through many more acres of pristine wilderness, including the very trail you had closed off to me so I wouldn’t damage the environment. I now question your judgment, and wonder why I bothered not going ahead and riding onward. What difference would it have made in the end? I trusted your judgment and yet I now realize you didn’t have my interests at heart at all. It was merely control.

Further, he took another ride to a high country lake with his disabled daughter, only to find that access had been cut off by a crudely erected fence. That same day, he continued and found this:

I then rode further down the trail only to find several big pieces of machinery working through the forest. They were cutting down trees. Nice trees. Not the hundreds of trees dying to the bark beetle. Nope. These were healthy trees. And the machines went wherever they wanted, leaving tracks much more severe than my ATV ever could. Or all the ATVs I’ve seen on the trail as a matter of fact! They also left fuel and oil spills – something I know I have never done. I questioned you again. Is this what I wanted? Who wanted this? I rode on the existing trail, keeping the area clean all these times only so you could do this?

And then this:

Once again I set out to explore another wonderful 2-track trail I had ridden just last year. When I got to the trailhead, it had been, ah, changed. Once again, you had spent my hard-earned money to close this trail to my use. But you didn’t just set a gate to limit travel. Or even a 50″ gate to limit the type of vehicles. Nope. You used a piece of heavy equipment and destroyed it. And scarred this beautiful area. Once again you spent my hard-earned tax dollars doing more damage to the environment to keep me out than I could have done in many years of riding the trail!

And for more back-country fun, you can ride past dead, rotting carcasses of cows left on the trail until you get to the fence meant to keep you off trails you’ve ridden for years.

Apparently the federal government’s take on “wilderness preservation” is to bulldoze and clear-cut the back country, let wildfires burn because it’s good for the environment, while keeping ATV riders off of trails and away from lakes. Oh, and while taxing us all for the privilege. Sounds about right – for a federal government that’s clearly insane…. (and btw – make sure you check out the pictures on the original blog.)

Philpot swings at Matheson’s land use policies

August 31, 2010

Utah’s delegation is almost universally united in standing up to Ken Salazar, his cronies and their control of 2/3 of the land in Utah. The lone hold-out is, of course, Democrat Jim Matheson.  Matheson – aka Phantom Jim – didn’t have the, um, …. courage…. to stand up to Salazar when 77 leases were yanked in Uintah county. (He did ask Salazar in a letter to pretty please restore them. Nothing happened, of course.) Matheson stayed in the background when Rep Rob Bishop and others spoke out on the administration’s backdoor plan to claim millions of acres. Matheson DID, however, announce a plan earlier this year to set aside 26,000 additional acres of wilderness in the Wasatch Mountains, prompting Alta mayor Tom Ballard to remark “It’s been kind of jammed down our throats.”

Yesterday, Matheson’s Republican opponent, Morgan Philpot took him to task as he unveiled his short, medium and long-term goals for land use.. He claimed that with 67% of the state owned by the federal government, we are no longer a sovereign state, but a “geographic area administrator” for the feds. He announced that he is endorsed by all three Washington county commissioners and said that his campaign is on track to wrap up the endorsements of 75% of the county commissioners in the second district.  He pointed to Matheson’s absenteeism and said the district – and especially the rural counties – needed someone who would go to bat for them.  The current Congressman simply will not.

Congressman Rob Bishop appeared with Philpot at his press conference. He said unequivocally that Philpot’s ideas “hit the core” of what needs to be done. “They are the kind of proactive, positive ideas that need to go back there to Congress,” he said. “He will fit in brilliantly with the entire delegation, as well as within Congress.”

In the short term, Philpot proposes that the Utah delegation work to restore the recently canceled energy leases, to increase access, specifically to school trust lands, and to open them for development.

In the medium term, he says that we must establish “once and for all” the validity of county RS2477 road rights of way and to pursue permanent, full funding of PILT – Payments in Lieu of Taxes.

In the long-term, Philpot said we must pursue a “legal and legislative strategy designed to achieve parity (as required by the Constitution) between public lands states and the rest of the Union.”

Matheson told KSL he has nothing to be ashamed of and that he has worked well with county commissioners in the past. His spokeswoman said it was not surprising Philpot got the endorsement of the Washington county commissioners –  they were Republican, after all. Wonder if she’ll be surprised if Philpot also gets the majority of the votes in this R+15 district?

Take Back Utah Rally

August 25, 2010

This Saturday, “Take Back Utah” is holding a parade and rally at the state Capitol. Last year, 4000 outdoor enthusiasts and multiple users of public land from around the country gathered in Salt Lake to march on the capitol in protest of land restrictions placed on Utah’s public lands by the federal government.

Legislators subsequently created, debated and passed legislation that challenged the fed’s authority over federal lands and gives the state the power of eminent domain.

In an ongoing effort to show support for true “multiple use” of our lands, “Take Back Utah” has scheduled an ATV/Jeep/mountain bike/horseback/walking parade through downtown Salt Lake, followed by a rally on Capitol Hill. Access to public land in Utah remains a key issue among many voters and elected officials and the thousands expected on Saturday will be there to show their concern.

The 2010 parade and rally, scheduled for this Saturday, August 28th, will run from Liberty Park to the State Capital. The parade is free to enter, and representatives from all groups that use public lands are encouraged to join this event. Staging begins at Liberty Park on the 28th at 6 AM. 10:00 to 12:00 will be the parade and 12:30 to 1:30 the rally. Scheduled to speak in person are Governor Herbert, Rep Rob Bishop and Congressional hopeful, Morgan Philpot. Coming to you via Jumbo-tron are Senate candidate Mike Lee and Representative Jason Chaffetz.

Salazar not listening on “listening tour”

August 3, 2010

Last week, Secretary Salazar was invited to meet with the entire Utah federal delegation while he visited Utah today. Last night, his staff notified the delegation he was disinclined to acquiesce. In other words, he said no. Apparently the listening tour was for everyone else to listen to him. Ben Winslow from Fox 13 tweeted from the public meeting held today “This is billed as a public listening session, yet for the past 45 minutes we have heard only speeches from bureaucrats.” Part of Salazar’s speech was to say – again according to Twitter: “We will work with all of you in partnership,” he says, pledging to work with towns… not a DC driven agenda. Right.

To be fair, Salazar did take limited public input at today’s public meeting. However, he refused to commit to honoring Governor Herbert’s request for an appeal of the recent Skull Valley ruling. That was also the topic the federal delegation wanted to discuss.

Congressman Rob Bishop said “If the Secretary is truly interested in ‘listening,’ as his so-called ‘tour’ indicates, it seems to me that he would want to set aside a few minutes to discuss what next steps will be taken by the DOI to address the judge’s recent decision.”

Once again, Salazar tossed Utah a bone by agreeing to appear, but don’t hold your breath on a truly “balanced” approach coming from DC.


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