Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Fight to Save Tahoe National Forest

I've written before about the ongoing fight to save Tahoe National Forest from the anti-access faux-environmentalists, and it's time to give an update on this precedent-setting issue of The Public versus Big Government:

Pacific Legal Foundation is representing outdoor recreationists in the case Friends of Tahoe Access v. United States Department of Agriculture.  As expected, the liberal activist District Court judge sided with the government land (mis)managers, so the planned appeal process is already under way, with hopes that this can be taken all the way to the Supreme Court so that every American can eventually be assured of their right to enjoy responsible access to all non-Wilderness Areas of public lands.

An example of the misinformed (or propagandizing) liberal media can be found in this article by the Tahoe Daily Tribune.  The article is so heavily laced with inaccuracies, untruths, and bias that I felt compelled to share it along with a response to the article from a resident of Tahoe National Forest:
[This article is] yellow journalism at its finest. Nevada County and other rural Sierra Nevada community citizens, you'd better listen up as this affects us all. Quick Cliffs Notes of the Tahoe National Forest route closures and then I will get on to the gross inaccuracies portrayed in this article from the Tahoe Daily Tribute:

-In 2012 the US Forest Service gated and closed off 90% (800+ miles) of the existing routes in the Tahoe National Forest after finally implementing a 2005 Travel Management Rule that the Forest Service had promised outdoor recreational enthusiasts would not close many, if any roads or trails.

-In July of 2012 the Pacific Legal Foundation sued the Federal Government for illegally closing 800 + miles of roads and trails in TNF and preventing any form of vehicular access to these roads, many of which have existed upwards, and over 100 years with no negative impact on the TNF.

-Nov 2013 Judge John A. Mendez of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California sided with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, supporting their closure of 90% of TNF.

Now, onto the [article's] inaccuracies:

•"....and denying Friends of Tahoe Forest Access in its attempt to preserve and expand access for off-highway vehicles."


-Incorrect. We are trying to PRESERVE the existing, 50-100+ year old routes still remaining in the TNF. We are not seeking to EXPAND these trails whatsoever.

•"The Wilderness Society, the Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups joined the lawsuit as an intervenor and argued through their attorney, Greg Loarie, that there is no way to adequately protect a forest while allowing motor vehicles to travel all over the forest without restriction."

-Incorrect. Slimy wording, at best. Obviously these environmentalists have never been to the Sierra Nevada, or they would understand that beyond the established roads and trails, penetrating the Sierra Nevada "without restriction" in a motorized vehicle is no easy task, if not impossible. We (The Friends of Greenhorn, Friends of Tahoe National Forest, etc) are absolutely not advocating to "travel all over the forest without restriction", in fact it is against our core mottos of TREAD LIGHTLY and STAY ON THE TRAIL. To suggest we are suing to preserve the "right" to trash nature wherever we want is cowardly and immoral, and shows the true integrity of organizations like Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. Not to mention if these roads were not maintained largely by forest users, they would disappear back into nature in a matter of years.

The rural communities of the Sierra Nevada rely on outdoor recreation year round to survive. In the spring, summer and fall, camping, hunting, fishing, boating, mountain biking, four wheeling, ATVing, bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, etc etc provide vast amounts of income to our communities. In the winter, skiing, snowboarding, innertubing, snowshoeing etc etc get us through until the next season of outdoor activities begins. With 800 miles of roads closed to motorized travel, access to favorite camp sites or fishing holes is reduced to non-motorized traffic. This directly affects families with small children, the elderly, and the disabled, as well as anyone else that doesn't want to be restricted to KOA campgrounds to enjoy nature.

Driving down existing dirt/rock roads surrounded by millions of acres of pristine forest is not harming anything.

Half of you grew up with me in the heart of the Sierra Nevada. We all got to experience the beauty of the Sierra by exploring the winding trails that penetrate deep into the woods as we grew up and as adults. Imagine a future where under the guise of "saving the planet", your children and grandchildren cannot even explore our own backyard. That is the future we are headed towards if we do not continue to fight these massive public land closures. This is our backyard, people, and radical environmental organizations are pressuring the Federal government to close as much of it down to keep people out of nature once and for all.

Keep public land open to the public. Immerse future generations in nature by taking them to nature and instilling the desire to enjoy, preserve and protect, not gate and exclude. As John Muir once wrote in a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908:

"I am anxious that the Yosemite National Park may be saved from all sorts of commercialism and marks of man's work other than the roads, hotels, etc., required to make its wonders and blessings available. For as far as I have seen there is not in all the wonderful Sierra, or indeed in the world, another so grand and wonderful and useful a block of Nature's mountain handiwork."
John Muir's letter to President Roosevelt

Public lands should be accessible to ALL nature-lovers, not just to a select group of elitists for which we've already locked up over 14% of the State of California within the boundaries of our Wilderness Areas.  Recreational opportunities within remaining National Forest land should be open to all Americans.  Motorized recreation is the primary means by which families, the elderly, and the disabled can reach our backcountry, yet every day we find more and more gates and signs erected by our land (mis)managers.  The Pacific Legal Foundation is working to ensure that public lands are preserved FOR the public, instead of FROM the public.


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