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SAWS/BRC Action Alert: Region 1 RWA De-Facto Wilderness Policy Possibly Going Nationwide

Published online: Feb 15, 2010 News

SAWS/BRC Action Alert: Region 1 RWA De-Facto Wilderness Policy Possibly Going Nationwide

Many of you may recall that SAWS has been fighting the Region 1 Recommended Wilderness Area (RWA) de-facto Wilderness policy for many year now, along with several other organizations, including the BRC.

Here is a link to a previous SAWS Action Alert from December, 2006 regarding the de-facto Region 1 RWA Wilderness policy

Here is a link to one of the BRC Action Alerts from January, 2008:

Arizona Congressman Circulating Sign-On Letter to Expand the USFS Unlawful "de-facto Wilderness" Policy

Congressman Grijalva (D-AZ), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, is generating increased Congressional attention to a controversial management plan currently being implemented in Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service (Region 1 = Montana and N. Idaho). 

Recreationists across Montana have been fighting an attempt by Region 1 to manage all Recommended Wilderness Areas (RWAs) as de-facto Wilderness areas, banning motorized recreation and mountain bike use.
 
Only Congress can designate Wilderness. This is logical because Wilderness is the most restrictive land management designation on the planet. It is not wise, nor legal, for any federal land management agency to establish de-facto Wilderness areas.
 
Chairman Grijalva has written a letter in support of the Region 1 RWA policy and he is urging the Forest Service to expand it to all National Forests, nationwide. Grijalva is also circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter among members of the House of Representatives for support.
 
BRC had warned our members to expect a push for the Region 1 policy to go nationwide, so Grijalva's letter is not unexpected. What is unexpected, however, is that the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) is asking their members to contact their Congressman in support of Grijalva's request. I can not explain IMBA's actions here, but I can say that IMBA's backing places this issue in the "TOP PRIORITY" category.
 
If legislators get the idea that the Grijalvia's letter is good for recreation, that could be just what the FS needs to grease the skids on this lousy policy. If the policy goes nationwide it will give a devastating blow to single track motorcycle trails, mountain bike trails and snowmobile areas across the West.
 
We need you to contact your Congress person IMMEDIATELY and make certain they DO NOT sign on to Grijalva's letter.
 
We've prepared one of our famous 3-step action items below. As always, we've tried to make it easy as possible to minimize time away from work and family.
 
Please forward to friends, family and riding buddies.
Brian Hawthorne
BlueRibbon Coalition
(208) 237-1008 ext 102


URGENT ACTION ALERT:

TELL YOUR CONGRESSMAN NO! ON GRIJALVA LETTER TO USFS

THREE STEP ACTION ITEM:

1) Go to the Blue Ribbon Coalition Rapid Response Center and enter your zip code to find the phone number for your Representative. Then use the tallking points below in your call. Be brief and be polite, but make it clear: NO on Grijalva's Dear Colleague letter.

 
2) If you live in a state with a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, your call is particularly important. Key states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
 
3)  Ask your friends and family to sign up for BRC's Action Alerts. BRC will keep an eye on this issue and we'll let you know if YOUR Congress Critter signed on to the letter.
 
Talking Points to Use In Your Calls and Letters
 
Congressman Raul Grijalva, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, is circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter regarding the management of  U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands that have been recommended by the agency for Wilderness designation. Please DO NOT sign Representative Grijalva's letter.
 
These lands are commonly known as Recommended Wilderness Areas or "RWAs." The letter expresses a concern about the agency's continued authorization of activities in RWAs that are disallowed in Wilderness areas, including the use of motorized vehicles. It supports managing RWAs as if Congress had actually designated them as Wilderness.
 
Only Congress can designate Wilderness. This is logical because Wilderness is the most restrictive land management designation on the planet. It is not wise, nor legal, for any federal land management agency to establish de-facto Wilderness areas.
 
The policy suggested by Representative Grijalva creates a situation where currently authorized mountain bike and motorized recreation does not preclude lands becoming RWA's - but then mandates those uses be all but eliminated. If the existing uses do not stop the lands from being recommended as Wilderness, then why should those activities not be allowed to continue until Congress acts?
 
More importantly, the RWA policy precludes collaborative solutions such as those reached in recent land use legislation. This policy presupposes the agency's desires on what is properly between Congress and the American people. By doing so, it eliminates the opportunity for mountain bike and motorized users to reach acceptable compromise with Wilderness advocates, State and local governments, and other stakeholders.
 
Please DO NOT sign Representative Grijalva's letter.