Your Thoughts on
Wilderness Areas
Last issue we shared with you an article from the Times Standard in Eureka, California which talked about a bill introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson which would make hundreds of thousands of acres of public land into wilderness areas. A number of areas in California would be affected if this bill passes. Click the following link for the information we provided in our last issue:

Here are some of your responses:

I'm 65 years, and I'm still able to hike some miles and even if not, I feel more wilderness area is a good thing.
Robert Keyes
Pleasanton, CA

The people of California are not in need of more wilderness. For the majority of people the limited access of a wilderness designation eliminates the use of that land for any use. Also a wilderness designation all but eliminates any commercial use of the natural resources of that land which eliminates federal shared money from the commercial use. This shared money now goes to the counties for schools and roads. In this time of dire state fiscal crisis we do not need to set aside more land that will decrease the funds availabe for vital programs.
Randy Bailey
Orland, CA

I am probably not typical, but after moving to Elko, Nevada in the early 1980s, completely ignorant regarding public land management issues, I early on became an advocate of wilderness designation, this in spite of living in a very conservative area (ranching and mining). I lived in that area for six years and my observations after spending a lot of time hunting, fishing, camping and hiking on the public lands was that they were poorly managed and not in good shape. The exceptions were the Wilderness Study Areas, where habitat was in good shape, one piece of evidence being the abundant wildlife. I was unapologetically a pro wilderness advocate when Nevada’s National Forests were being considered for wilderness designation. The largest deer I have ever seen in Nevada were without question in the Jarbidge Wilderness Area and the more remote areas of the Ruby Mountains.

So I am a hunter who strongly supports wilderness designation; the positives in my view far outweigh the negatives. Simply put, wilderness is beneficial to wildlife and as a hunter and conservationist I am comfortable with my stand. I am now 55 and cannot backpack into many wilderness areas, but that does not affect my position on this issue.
Roy G. Jones MD
San Jose, CA

As I am in the 50+ group, I would not like to see a lot of public areas turned into wilderness. However, I would support wilderness areas in the appropriate places to preserve wildlife and the environment. J. Harp

I am all for more wilderness designation as long as hunting is still allowed. I witness too much vehicular traffic on our state and federal forests and I welcome the chance to hike/fish/hunt in areas that prohibit vehicle use. I also believe that our game species benefit when road building, vehicle use, and fire suppression are restricted.
Dave Valle
Portola, CA

I know this is a hot topic, and discussions on this one with some friends and acquaintances have often turned kind of ugly. But my honest opinion is, YES, we definitely need more wilderness areas.

The loss of access to handicapped hunters is the only true downside, as far as I can see. However, there are miles of roads, jeep trails, and ATV trails that will still be available to these users. The benefits, both to wildlife and to wilderness users, far outweigh the loss of access.

The way I see it, wilderness designation will:

-Enhance the hunting experience for those willing to get away from the roads
-Reduce pressure on wildlife, both game and non-game species
-Reduce the impacts of fire suppression, and allow the ecosystem to return to a self-regulating state
-Reduce the encroachment and damage associated with OHV use
-Curtail future development plans which would rely on roaded areas (campgrounds, "convenience areas", etc.)

There are few places left in this country where a true wilderness can exist. On the east coast, hunters are lucky to find 25,000 acres of contiguous wildlands. Most publicly accessible properties are relatively tiny, crisscrossed by logging interests, and infringed upon at all sides by the development of "micro-estates" and golf-courses.

California is in a position to ensure that the wilderness experience is available to outdoorsmen for generations to come. I support and encourage that position wholeheartedly!
Phillip Loughlin
Union City, CA

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