Congressman Presses For Public Access To U.S. Forests

Posted by on August 30, 2010 under Press. This post currently has 2 responses.

Check out this article published by The Union.com serving Western Nevada County in California entitled McClintock Blasts US Forest Service for “Abusive” “ Predatory” Fees.

Congressman Tom McClintock describes examples of cost recovery fees collected by the US Forest Service which he labels as abusive and predatory. This abuse, brought to his attention by his constituents, portrays an attitude within the service which he said requires immediate correction.

He documents examples of the U.S. Forest Service demanding excessive fees from various organizations running events in the National Forests and then pulling permits when the organizations could not afford the fees. Groups including the California
Endurance Riders Association, the Polka Dot Motorcycle Club (motorcycle clubs) and Gold Country Endurance Group (an equestrian club) were forced to cancel events that they had been holding for decades.

These along with other documented abuses caused Tom McClintock to bring concerns and complaints of arbitrary and capricious conduct to the Forest Service’s attention. “Combined, these actions evince an ideologically driven hostility to the public’s use of the public’s land – and a clear intention to deny the public the responsible and sustainable use of that land.”

He said that if the Forest Service fails to reverse these policies he will use his use his position on the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee to press for hearings into the economic damage their actions have caused.

Finally a powerful ally willing to stand up for public access…

2 Responses to “Congressman Presses For Public Access To U.S. Forests”

  1. Diana Tweedy says:

    I respect Congressman Tom McClintock and admire his courage, but why is economic impact the sole question to be resolved when the Forest Service’s actions are about taking away the opportunity to participate in a popular sport? What about happiness and family values? What he calls “a clear intention to deny the public the responsible and sustainable use of that land” is clearly not solely about economic impact.
    Our taxes as well and OHV funds support BLM acquisitions and maintenance, but our rights as riders and tax payers are not addressed by politicians. This is not McClintock’s fault. He has to work within the existing political framework, but I believe that politicians are ignoring core American values.
    The United States Declaration of Independence was drafted primarily by Thomas Jefferson and was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
    Those are words that ring true today, yet most politicians today equate liberty and the pursuit of happiness with the right to acquire property or the right of economic opportunity. The right to acquire property in our society is certainly a requisite to happiness as is the right to economic opportunity, but that doesn’t explain why the right to pursuit of happiness does not stand on its own. Economic impact is only part of the equation when balancing the general right to pursuit of happiness.
    The right to happiness, and in fact the right to liberty, includes the right to marry and have children. It also includes the right to seek gainful employment and the right to an education. These rights to not come free and we accept the fact that we have to pay to take advantage of them. Making certain that no citizen is denied the opportunity to pursue these rights is a guarantee that our founding fathers envisioned for the new country.
    Some people find happiness in off road competition and recreation. We pay to take part in this rewarding experience because it gives us a feeling of well being. It is also a sport that encourages participation of the whole family. Off road racing offers something for everybody whether they race or not and it offers good clean family fun. What is the stronger argument; economic impact or family cohesiveness?
    I say we have a right to happiness and to share that happiness with friends and family. This also addresses the bigger societal questions of disaffected youth and gangs. Neither the legislature nor the courts have enshrined this right. But economic impact is only a small part of addressing our values as a culture. We need to take into account the bigger question of happiness and how that impacts our lives.
    In short I think the Forest Service’s mean hearted effort to close down off road races by charging exorbitant fees should be exposed for what it is. If economic impact is the only way McClintock can attack their actions, it only shows how far our nation has come from the vision of our founding fathers.

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