Thursday, December 21, 2006

Public Access Closures And How You Can Help

Maybe this is a lame "blog" post but it's important so I'm sort of spamming it through all the means that I have. It's essentially a plea for help concerning access to our public lands. They are being threatened in a manner that appears to be environmental but is, in actually, an insidious threat to our environment and the animals it's supposed to be protecting. Please take the time to read and help out.

Over the years I've dealt with this issue quite a lot as a climber/activist. Every time I've developed a new climbing area I've approached the land use management of the area to secure our access to the cliffs involved. This has often, if not always, addressed the situation of the local bird species.

What we've found is that climbers--and other outdoor user groups, especially those that don't use motors--obstruct animal habitat very little, especially when compared to the natural impact of society via pollution, road and building development, and so forth (which is true even when development is adjacent to an area, such as National Forests). Even the motorized user groups, as well as hunters, do very little to negatively affect species when compared to the above.

In fact, when compared to urban spawl and other sorts of wilderness encroachment, it's can be easily argued the climbers, hikers, etc have an overall positive effect on the environment, especially the longevity of plant and animal species.

Furthermore, the only hope that we have of enacting truly protective legislation over time is by creating more public awareness (and, hence, votes). By closing access to our public lands we reduce our chances to create public awareness.
Exposing people to nature and wildlife is, by far, the most effective and powerful means of motivating people to protect our environment. This has been proven with studies using inner-city kids. It's an out of sight, out of mind mentality. But the vivid imagery of the wilderness stays in the mind long after one is exposed, leading to serendipitous environmentalists.

Our land use management has been under fire due to budget cuts (especially under the current administration) which has forced them into a reactionary status of involvement. The reason that they support these closers is simple; it's easy. It's also "safe" in that our legal and management system is messed up to the point that a ranger can be personally liable for non-protection of an area. If this sounds insane, well, it is. But we're dealing with this exact situation in the Angeles National Forest currently.

What this does is create stupid blanket policies to "protect" species which, in turn, lowers public awareness which, in turn, makes it easier for developers to ultimately get their hands on these lands. If you don't believe me just do a little hoof work to see how our lands are getting sold off to developers. It's insidious. It affects our lives, our children's lives, and threatens the very species of plants and animals that it is supposedly there to protect.

Thanks for reading. Now see below.

Hi Everyone,
This affects all of us. While it appears to be about San Diego county only, if it's allowed to go through it could set a precedent that could affect all public lands. Keep in mind that I'm a conservationist and would support legislation that would help animals. This, however, is just government being lazy and, in the end, will end up hurting the species. Feel free write me if you want more explanation about how (or maybe I'll blog about it.)Either way, read below.

Thanks for your time!
Steve

-- Instructions Below --

Deadline for public comment ends on January 12, 2007


The Cleveland National Forest in San Diego, California is about to impose access closures to ALL forms of recreational use at four National Forest areas: Corte Madera Mountain, El Cajon Mountain, Rock Mountain, and Eagle Peak. Very alarming is that this information is not available to the public via the Forest Service website, the Federal Register, or SOPA (Schedule Of Proposed Actions) as required within the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969.

These closures will ban ALL human activity within a "½ mile radius of any current or future golden eagle, prairie falcon, "or "other cliff-nesting species" nests, even though these "other" species types are not explicitly identified in the proposed closures. However, given that the closures are in part being based on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916, of the over 800 birds listed, many are quite common such as the swallow, hummingbird, and raven. The results could be catastrophic by not only closing local areas, but establishing legal precedent for widespread closures across all U.S. National Forest! These closures affect climbers, hikers, backpackers, mountain-bikers, horseback riders, and off-road enthusiasts alike, setting legal precedent to close off multiple recreational areas within any National Forest!!!

Join this important letter writing campaign (instructions at the bottom) and tell the Cleveland National Forest that you oppose all closures of this type! If no comments are received during the public comment period, the Forest Service will assume that we support their proposals and they will close our recreational areas.
Tell the Cleveland National Forest that you oppose these closures because:

These closures are inconsistent with the USFS multiple use mandate, "as set forth in law" to meet the diverse needs of people,รข€ and as such do not adequately take into consideration the unique value of climbing, hiking, backpacking, mountain-biking, horseback riding, and off-roading on forest lands.

The Forest Service is misinterpreting its legal authority to use the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), together with the Golden Eagle Protection Act, to close large tracks of our public lands for passive uses, be it hiking, riding, picnicking, or rock climbing. This is a radically extreme method to limit recreational use on our public lands given that the MBTA was initially entered into by congress in 1916 to prevent the over-commercialization of migratory birds.

In particular, the Corte Madera proposed closure is being based on the "historical" presence of eagles since golden eagles have not nested there for over 15 years. As such, this measure is extreme and onerous and based on unscientific reasoning.
The proposed closure limit distances are arbitrary because they are not based on exact nest locations, not accurately depicted from presumed nests on the USFS closure proposal maps, or based on sound scientific evidence.

The Golden Eagle and Prairie Falcon are not threatened or endangered species and therefore do not need drastic protection measures like these closures to breed successfully.

Climbers, Hikers, and other National Forest users have co-existed with wildlife peacefully for decades; therefore, among other factors, changing climate conditions and decline of natural prey populations are more likely to blame for any suspected loss in bird numbers.

These closures are inconsistent with bird closure precedent already established nation-wide.

Simply cut-&-paste the above reasons to TWO separate letters (added comments definitely help)

Title each of your letters separately (it is VERY IMPORTANT that the titles are accurate)

First letter -- Comments to proposed seasonal closures at Corte Madera Mountain & El Cajon Mountain

Second letter -- Comments to proposed seasonal closures at Rock Mountain & Eagle Peak
Send directly to the Cleveland National Forest at:


Kirsten Winter
Cleveland National Forest
10845 Rancho Bernardo Rd #200
San Diego, Ca 92127



********************************************
IMPORTANT UPDATE!!!!
********************************************

If you e-mail your response and it kicks back,
your comment will not be recognized or counted...if this happens you
either MUST send in a hard copy, or forward it to
<mailroom_r5_cleveland@fs.fed.us> Attn. Kirsten Winter. This way if
her system crashes (I certainly hope it does), all your VERY IMPORTANT
comments will be saved, counted, and make a difference!

And hey, if their mailroom server crashes, all the better...annnnnnnd,
should this actually happen to you (wouldn't that be great...let's
shoot for it), please send in a hard copy letter anyway...I say we run-up the
scoreboard on this one!!!

Print tons of copies and pass them out to everyone you see over the
holidays!

p.s. personally, I think a hard copy letter mailed in is always better
(heard once that agencies equate ten e-mails to one actual letter), but
whatever works for you, just please, please, please get those comments
in before January 12th!!!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

baaahhh...gay

steve edwards said...

You're going to have to define "gay" for me on this one. Do you mean gay as in its literal meaning, the slang meaning, or the more recently colloquial?

With either option, your comment still makes very little sense. If you are for the issue you could state your argument. If against, you wouldn't use gay as a descriptive term. If neutral, you wouldn't bother to comment.

The only response that could make sense is that you feel the issue can't be controlled and in this you are wrong. We're a democracy (in spite of the current administrations desire to turn us into a fascist state or theocracy) and public opinion still warrents consideration. I assure you that this issue can be changed with public outcry.

The only people who have nothing at stake are those who never go outside and, shoot, I could make an argument that this will hurt them, too.

Anonymous said...

Help the poor birds! Baja has a wealth of climbing spots. Climbers should head South. Let's leave a little space for the wildlife in our county. And I don't see what Pres Bush has to do with your desire to climb a rock in area of natural beauty. Climber's are just people--good, bad, ugly. There will always be the ass hole climber that ruins it for everyone else by plucking eggs from a nest.

Steve Edwards said...

This is such a strange comment I'm not sure how to reply. Are you saying it's okay to disrupt birds in Mexico but not in the US?

I've established a lot of routes in both countries and encountered nests in both countries. I've never disturbed a nest. I always pass up a crag with nesting birds. And I'm pretty sure that most activists do the same--and I know a lot of climbing activists.

I've never heard of a climber stealing an egg from a nest. If you think that's what climbers do then I would submit that you know very little about them. Climbers are one of the most concerned and responsible user groups using our wilderness.

On Bush, don't get me started. His latest objective (just one in a long line of never-ending policies that threaten our wilderness) is to repeal the endangered species act.

I am quite certain that you have your targets mixed up. Bush will kill more birds this year than climbers could if that became their main objective til the end of time.