Monday, March 21, 2011

In Colorado, Leaders Seek Common Ground on Wild Lands

Much of western Colorado’s rural Garfield County is public land. Forest Service land mostly makes up the higher elevations. Bureau of Land Management land lies below. It’s a Republican-leaning county whose leaders bristled when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new “wild lands” policy to protect remote BLM landscapes. Neighboring Pitkin County, home to the slopes of Aspen, has less BLM land, is heavily Democratic and supports the new wild lands proposal. Their differences echo across the West. Western legislators, mostly Republican, have come out against the measure. Environmental groups and some outfitters and outdoor recreation groups have supported it. In Colorado, county commissioners from across the state are trying to find a middle ground that could be adopted across the country. “I think there’s been a misrepresentation of how Westerners feel about wild lands,” said Matthew Garrington, Denver-based representative for the Checks and Balances Project, a government and energy industry watchdog group. “Colorado has a $10 million a year outdoor recreation industry. Clearly the conservation values of our wild lands are essential both to our economic health and quality of life. For those reasons, there’s actually been substantial support for it by outfitters and local officials in the West.” “Instead of making it them against us, how can we come together to find common ground?” asked John Martin, the Garfield County commissioner who chairs the committee...more

Finding "common ground" will result in less land for multiple use and more land with enviro restrictions.

The formula usually goes like this:

Enviros propose - ranchers, etc. oppose - politicians call for "common ground" & "compromise" = final result: more land is excluded from production and public access.

Since the enviros have been using this formula for quite some time, they always ask for more than they know they can get, which always gives them plenty of room for compromise. So what do the enviros give up in this process? Nada. It's only the rancher, sportsmen, motorized recreationists and general public who will wind up with less access.

Now, if Salazar was proposing to sell large tracts of land to the highest bidder, would Commissioner Martin be calling for "common ground" and saying let's reach a compromise? I don't think so.

This compromise stuff only seems to go in one direction - and it's time for a change in that direction.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You hit the ball out of the park, Frank. Our federal lawyers are great for this compromise scheme which keeps them rich and going the easy way. But how to stop it? Our leaders need to learn to say NO and fear loosing their jobs if they don't.