Hansen "Serious" about Bill to Create Wilderness in East
Rep. Jim Hansen (R-UT) turned the tables on his colleagues from the East recently, forcing them to argue against wilderness.
HR 1567, the Eastern Wilderness Act, would order a massive study of federal land that might be suitable for wilderness protection in the East. The study would extend from the eastern side of the Texas Panhandle to the Eastern Seaboard.
Easterners and some western Democrats attacked the idea in the House Resources Committee, arguing it would tie up private land, restrict development and not meet traditional definitions of wilderness. But that has never stopped them from designating land in the West. They even suggested that Hansens bill was meant in jest, even though the committee passed it on a voice vote and Hansen said he was serious.
Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), and other western Republicans appeared to savor the turnabout, particularly since those advocating wilderness for the West have lost their majority on the committee. "Youve run over us, stomped on us, stepped on us, spit on us and kicked us," Young said.
Rep. Bob Smith (R-OR) said he watched for 12 years as Easterners and environmental activists "elected to set aside everything they could find in the West. They enjoyed it. And, very frankly, Im enjoying this."
Contact your representative and have him sign on as a co-sponsor. This bill would just study the East and not actually set aside any land at this time. But with half to almost 90% of western states set up in wilderness, the East needs to look in their own backyards for their next "wilderness" experience.
- - portions from the Desert News, Salt Lake City, December 16, 1997