In the summer of 2011 I was invited to testify before a Congressional House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands in Washington DC. The purpose of my testimony was to provide facts and information to legislators from the perspective of the largest on the ground grass roots volunteer organization in the Sequoia National Forest as to why 43 million acres of Wilderness Study and Roadless area public lands should be released back to multiple use under HR 1581 Wilderness and Roadless Release Act of 2011.
WHAT IS TESTIMONY FOR HR1581 ALL ABOUT?
Those of you who have been reading Stewards recent alerts will know that all of these 43 million acres had been found unsuitable for Wilderness over 20 years ago, but had never been released. Stewards offered extensive written testimony to Congress including maps and documents showing why these lands in Sequoia National Forest and surrounding BLM lands are unsuitable for Wilderness. I also provided a five minute verbal testimony and answered questions from Congressman. (Click Here to watch the Video-Sorry about poor audio)
At the conclusion of my testimony I hand delivered a file storage box jammed full of over 3000 letters submitted by the public in support of HR1581 to release these unsuitable lands back to mutliple use. In response those opposing submitted what looked like a folder containing a few letters, but please keep those letters of support coming. (Link at bottom of page)
Sequoia National Forest Retired Ranger Dave Freeland also testified in support of the bill about why multiple use lands are so important. Having Ranger Dave support the bill was extremely powerful as he was the man in charge of the Sequoia lands contained in the bill. He has over 35 years of experience in the Forest Service.
Others who testified in support of the bill also did a great including Dan Kleen President of NOHVCC, Melissa Simpson from Safari Club International, as well as elected officials Congressman McCarthy, Congressman Pearce, Senator Barraso, Honorable Mike Noel-UT and Honorable Kent Connelly-WY.
Here is the list of 95 organizations supporting the bill. Please call Ben McFarland 661 327-3611 to add your group and grow this list.
All our testimonies were well received by the committee legislators, who not only appreciated hearing the facts, but especially appreciated Ranger Dave and myself having taken the time to travel across the US in order to meet with them.
While in DC I also met with representatives from ARRA, MIC, AMA, NRA who attended the hearing in support of the bill. They along with Blue Ribbon Colation provided advice to me on testifying.
Congressman McCarthy provided Stewards with a letter of thanks for testifying and travelling to DC to bring compelling on the ground facts to Congress .
OPPOSITION BASED ON MISINFORMATION
There were also people there to testify in opposition of the bill including Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt , Undersecretary of Agriculture Harris Sherman , Director of the BLM Bob Abbey, and Outdoor Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer.
It was particularly interesting to see that those who opposed the bill often based it on the same misinformation. For example they claimed this bill would release ALL Wilderness Study Areas and Roadless Areas or 62 million acres of land, but this is untrue. This bill only releases those lands found unsuitable for Wilderness in 43 million acres. They also claimed this bill would hurt the environment by handing over these lands to unrestricted timber. oil and gas development. Also untrue, since these lands would still be managed under the strictest regulations in the world which prohibit such wholesale development. You can hear more about that in the video of my testimony as well as Ranger Freeland's (sorry about the poor audio quality -CSpan had problems).
OUTDOOR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION REPRESENTS ELITIST POSITION
As a trade organization created to promote recreation it was surprising when Frank Hugelmeyer, President and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), testified in Opposition to HR 1581. A bill that would be good for the environment , good for the economy and good for the public.
HR1581 would help ensure the public can continue to be allowed on lands where the majority of the public recreate, so one would think that an Outdoor Recreation organization, like OIA would heartily support HR1581, but no so.
While OIA claims to represent hundreds of recreation companies who are OIA members, in reality perhaps most of the recreation companies are members of OIA in order to attend the OIA tradeshow to help sell their products. Most of them probably have no idea the OIA wants to lock up more lands for an elite few who have the time and physical ability to hike very long distances-the public be damned..
Are you a customer of any of the following companies? These are just a couple of the member companies which Outdoor Industry Association appears to represent in opposing HR1581. These companies need to hear from you expressing your dismay at their trade organization's clousue agenda.
- GoPro Camera's
- Cabela Sporting Goods
- Levi Straus & Co
- Delorme GPS
- Lowrance GPS
- SPOT Tracker
- Specailzed bikes
You can read more about this and see the full list of OIA member companies at
While in Washington DC I also had very productive meetings with the Chief of the Forest Service and the Deputy DIrector of the BLM, as well as many others, which provided important dialogue and better understanding of the need to keep trails open and disperse use.
Thanks so much to all of you who made donations to help fund this importantand very worthwhile trip to testify in Washington DC. Your donations enabled Stewards to step up and counter the misinformation that would otherwise have gone largely undisputed in DC. You can be proud of what your donations helped accomplish.
However I need to mention that even with the recent increase in donations to fund the DC trip, our current paid Stewards members are now down to 9.4% compared to 12% last year. It is only due to our few paid members making multiple generous donations each year that Stewards have been able to continue to function. For those of you who have let your membership expire ot have not yet donated please consider doing your part. Please ask your firends who recreate in Sequoia to donate. I know times are hard, but if we let our trails be closed it wil be almost impossible and extremely costly to get them reopened.
With your help Stewards will accomplish even more to keep your trails open.
Stewards of the Sequoia
Read Stewards of the Sequoia testimony here and watch here
Read Ranger Freeland's testimony here and watch here
Read Frank Hugelmeyers-Outdoor Industriy Association testimony here
Read McCarthy testimony here and watch here
Read Barrasso testimony here and watch here
Read Pearce testimony here and watch here
See the entire hearing at http://resources.edgeboss.net/wmedia/resources/112/2011_07_26_npfpl.wvx
Read testimony's by others http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=252577
WHAT IS THE COST OF WILDERNESS? Read More>>>>>