Regular readers will recall that the WE raised alarm when three parcels in Whatcom County were added to the list by a County Council resolution last August. Our concerns seem to be proving out. Congress - the Natural Resources Committee - questioned not only the itent of this scheme, but the way it's been rammed down the nation's throat. See the committee webpage questioning transparency - it's illuminating. There's a video below that frames the big push.
Although NCA designation was sold as sunshine and featured as a part of Obama's "America's Great Outdoors" initiative promising to make federal lands more accessible, the Wildnerness Society has been pressing BLM to make these parcels "Areas of Critical Environmental Concern" [ACECs]. Management plans are already being formulated that call for long-term lock down and uber-management of the whole region. That was always their real goal. Over-regulation is already crushing decent residents. Have you seen the Charles Dalton story?
A citizen e-mail circulating in the Islands that we just received summarizes the situation:
"1) Senators Cantwell, and Murray and Representatives Larsen and Inslee have bills before Congress that would designate the San Juan BLM Lands as National Conservation Areas. In his opinion, the language in those bills would be preferable to an Executive Order, unless the language in the bills mirrored that in the bills. It is more than unlikely that these bills will get to the floor this year.
2) The second way the BLM Lands will be "reidentified" is by an Executive Order by the President into a National Monument.
To further complicate these issues a ACEC Designation = Areas of Critical Environmental Concern could/would be imposed. In Oregon, groups are fighting to keep National Parks open to the public."
We had a bad feeling this would be "bait and switch." Pulling the "National Monument" maneuver to evade Congressional approval is nothing short of a dirty trick (using the Antiquities Act).
WE think it's a good idea to fax continuing concerns to Congressman Doc Hastings who's on the Natural Resources Committee at (202) 225-3251 [his voice line is (202) 225-5816]. And it's not too late to write or e-mail the San Juan County Council, though by all accounts they're ready to swing their rubber stamp of approval on this in just two days, on April 3rd.
San Juan County Council
350 Court St #1
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
(360) 378-2898 Fax (360) 378-7208 firstname.lastname@example.org
The final plan for Wallowa-Whitman National Forest http://www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman/
Travel Management Plan Decision http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/wallowa-whitman/landmanagement/projects/?cid=fsbdev7_008909