Republicans On House Natural Resources Committee Planning Big Changes For Public Lands

Will U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop, left, and Doc Hastings, right, try to undo environmental laws that protect public lands such as national parks?

Never let the pendulum swing too wide in either direction.

When the political winds blow too far right or left the governing balance is upset. That's true whether you're talking about the city council or Congress.

This week, of course, the focus is tightly on the Congress, which has undergone a sea change of political persuasion, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It could be argued that this swing to the right is a rebound of a swing too far left, one in which the Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress felt so emboldened that compromise and even statesmanship were unnecessary.

So now the pendulum has rebounded far to the right. Its swing has set off fears that, when it comes to the environment, the next two years might not bring good tidings.

Conservation Groups Hope New Congress Holds The Line On Environment

At the Natural Resources Defense Council, officials dispatched emails across the country Wednesday to rally support against the dismantling of environmental initiatives for clean air and water and which would offset climate change.

“There was no mandate on turning back the clock on environmental protection. Polls galore show continued and strong public support for making continued progress to protect our health and boost our economy,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, director of the NRDC Action Fund. “Americans want us to unleash our ingenuity to develop clean-energy alternatives while combating climate change.”

“We look forward to working with the next Congress and the Obama administration. But those who seek to reverse 40 years of environmental progress will find us fighting for the American public who made it clear yesterday that they want clean air and clean water," she continued. "Among them are those who overwhelmingly defeated an oil industry-sponsored ballot initiative designed to gut California's first-in-the-nation climate change law and re-elected most of the House members who voted for the House clean energy bill last year.”

A similar message went out from National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold, who said that, "Americans may have voted for change in Congress, but no one voted to increase pollution."

"Senators should use their lame duck session to dedicate Clean Water Act fines paid by BP to the immediate restoration of America's Gulf Coast. After reporting a $1.8 billion profit for the last quarter, BP cannot be allowed to stick taxpayers with the bill for its disaster," said Mr. Yarnold. "Senators can also ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund receives full funding. These vital steps will demonstrate bipartisan cooperation at a time when it is needed more than ever.

"The new Congress can also realistically defend America from the risk of diminished air quality by opposing efforts to block EPA enforcement of the Clean Air Act."

At the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Executive Director Scott Groene said the election results will require conservation groups such as his to persevere as they have before in similar situations.

"Elections matter for our public lands. Last night brought enormous change for the worse. Wilderness may be a bi-partisan issue, although it fares better under one party and that party was crushed last night. But we’ve overcome bad elections before by uniting supporters in the face of great threats," said Mr. Groene, also in an email alert.

"A similar election in 1994 threw us into a horrendous legislative fight that few thought we could win. But we did, nationalizing the need for redrock protection along the way, and winning two million acres of protection through designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. What appeared a disaster was converted through grassroots action into a stunning amount of redrock protected. Sometimes strength comes through adversity."

At The Wilderness Society, President Bill Meadows said the change in power need not spawn a change in environmental protection in the country.

“America’s shared public lands have always been a beloved part of our collective livelihood and natural heritage. Even as election results are still trickling in, people are benefiting from our public lands -- by enjoying the peace and quiet of nature, doing their day-to-day restoration or tourism jobs, drinking clean water and breathing fresh air, and much more," he said in a statement.

“Conservation has always been—and continues to be—a bi-partisan issue that enjoys broad public support. New members of Congress, irrespective of their political affiliation, present new opportunities for conservation. The Wilderness Society looks forward to working constructively with new and returning members to protect the wild places that belong to every American, as we have done for more than 75 years."

But Mr. Meadows' request that Congress, when it returns to work, pass "20 bills that protect 4 million acres of wildlands -- 2 million of which would become part of the Wilderness System -- likely will not be well-received in a GOP-controlled House Natural Resources Committee. Two of the committee's most vocal Republicans when it comes to environmental issues are not fans of officially designated wilderness.

Some Republicans Already Planning Change In Public Lands Management

Fresh off their Election Day tidal wave, and energized by it, U.S. Reps. Doc Hastings, R-Washington, and Rob Bishop, R-Utah, envision big changes for public lands in the West, changes that could greatly impact national parks.

While the Democratic Party's slim majority in the Senate could stand in the way of those plans, expect plenty of effort in the coming two years to be spent by some members of the House to rewrite the rules when it comes to public lands. Two congressmen who might be found at the front of the line when it comes to redrafting environmental regs and policy could be Mr. Hastings and Mr. Bishop, two Republicans whose legislative records and public comments show a disdain for federal ownership of Western lands.

Less than 24 hours after their party's sweeping victory gave the GOP control over the House of Representatives, Rep. Hastings announced his priorities for the Natural Resources Committee.

The Republican, who hopes to chair that committee when the 112th Congress convenes next year, pointed to more energy development on public lands and staunch opposition to any effort by the Obama administration to designate national monuments.

“Like all committees, one of our top priorities on the Natural Resources Committee will be cutting spending and bringing fiscal sanity back to Washington, D.C.," Rep. Hastings said. "The days of big government spending are over and we must take a hard look at what our country can truly afford during these times of soaring deficits and record debt.

“Creating new jobs and giving a much needed boost to the economy will also be at the forefront of our agenda. Through the responsible stewardship of our natural resources we can put Americans to work, strengthen our economy and protect the environment. This includes increasing domestic energy production through an all-of-the-above energy plan and ensuring that public lands are actually open to the public," he added. "The livelihoods of rural communities, especially in the West, are dependent on the smart use of our public lands, water, timber, minerals and energy resources."

The Bush administration had a similar attitude on energy exploration, and moved late in 2008 to open up public lands near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, and Dinosaur National Monument, in Utah to oil and gas exploration. The incoming Obama administration quickly reversed that course, taking action to more closely conduct due environmental diligence to determine whether exploration on parcels offered for development would imperil the parklands.

Rep. Hastings has a record of opposing national park initiatives beyond his state and striving to legislate management of the parks within his state. For instance, he and his GOP colleagues on the parks subcommittee last January criticized their Democratic colleagues for supporting a $50 million proposal to create a Castle Nugent National Historic Site roughly three miles south of St. Croix's principal town of Christianstedon in the Virgin Islands.

And earlier this year, when oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster was coming ashore at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Rep. Hastings criticized the Obama administration for its moratorium on off-shore drilling.

But back home in Washington, Mr. Hastings has worked to have the Park Service realign a wilderness boundary at North Cascades National Park so a deadend road could be moved out of a floodplain and pushed legislation to force North Cascades officials to stock non-native fish in some of the park's barren lakes.

Mr. Hastings also opposed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill of 2009 because it would block energy development on some public lands.

Rep. Bishop, meanwhile, has been a vocal opponent of environmental regulations. He not only spoke out against additional national monuments, but has worked -- so far unsuccessfully -- with Rep. Hastings to introduce legislation that essentially would block the National Park Service and Interior Department from enforcing The Wilderness Act or the Endangered Species Act along the country's border with Mexico if those laws prevented the Border Patrol from doing its job.

Interestingly, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, asked by Rep. Bishop to look into border issues and environmental regulations, just concluded that environmental laws are not hampering the Border Patrol's efforts to control the border. Rather, the GAO report noted, the rugged landscape is the major impediment to the Border Patrol's efforts.

But Mr. Bishop, in a statement issued in early October after he saw a draft of the report, argued that, "The severity of the crisis along the border cannot be underestimated. This report reveals shocking details that illustrate how U.S. so-called environmental policies are contributing to the ongoing crime and violence along the southern U.S.-Mexico border."

But as the Traveler pointed out Monday, the GAO report found that while the environmental regulations at times led to delays and restrictions for Border Patrol agents in accessing federal lands, "22 of the 26 Border Patrol stations reported that the border security status of their area of operation has not been affected by land management laws."

Rep. Bishop, who cruised to a fifth term Tuesday and wants to chair one of the Natural Resource Committee's subcommittees, has a woefully weak record when it comes to environmental issues.

The Republican from Utah has:

* Opposed the National Landscape Conservation System, which would not create any new federally owned lands but rather “conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes (within the existing BLM domain) that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations;”

* Opposed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 that created more than 2 million acres of officially designated wilderness, including more than 235,000 in and around Zion National Park in his home state;

* Gone on what best could be described as fishing expeditions with requests that the Park Service produce years worth of unspecified “communications” documents between the agency and advocacy groups as well as the media;

* Been involved, according to the NPCA, in watering down legislation intended to help restore cultural, historical, and archaeological resources on public lands, including those within the National Park System.

Mr. Bishop's record and stands on resource development is more than a little ironic in that his home state greatly values its natural resources -- namely the national parks and surrounding canyon lands, as well as the skiing in the Wasatch Range -- for their tourism value.

The congressman's record projects a biographical picture of a fiscal conservative, one who believes states are better at managing public lands than the federal government, and who views the National Park Service as an over-funded agency that private landowners need to be protected from.

Better fiscal fitness is indeed needed in Congress, there can be no doubt. But so is moderation, statesmanship, and working across the aisle. When either party tries to ram its legislative agenda through without allowing thoughtful input from the other party, the result runs a high risk of being ugly.

Of course, trying to hew to compromise, moderation, and collaboration in Congress is tough at best due to politics, as Robert Keiter, the Wallace Stegner Professor of Law and director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment at the University of Utah noted in his 2003 book, Keeping Faith With Nature.

Political considerations, however, invariably temper Congress's legislative activities and its use of federal power. In fact, the congressional political process effectively enables regional interests to exert considerable influence over any legislation with predominately local consequences. In the case of the public lands, western senators and representatives traditionally have held a near "veto" power over any reform proposals. Westerners generally dominate the congressional committees primarily responsible for public lands legislation, namely the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the House Resources Committee. They usually hold the powerful chair position on these committees, which carries the ability to control the flow of legislation. In the Senate, hoary traditions and privileges commonly enable one or a few determined senators to block unwelcome legislative initiatives, particularly if the matter is of uniquely local consequence. From this power base, western delegations have regularly used oversight hearings, budget negotiations appropriations riders, and other institutional prerogatives to shape and influence public land policies. And based on election results since the 1980s, the western delegations, especially from the interior West, are increasingly dominated by conservative Republicans aligned with the traditional extractive industries and strongly predisposed against additional wilderness designations or more federal environmental regulation.

Comments

Excuse me while I go vomit.

Wow! That headline. Did that "committee" already tell you that? in only one day's time? That was really fast work.

Representative Hastings is one of the worst examples of political meddling in park management. It's depressing to think someone with a 2% lifetime score from League of Conservation Voters will Chair the Natural Resources Committee.

DEF, paying attention to the national park-related pronouncements and behavioral dispositions of high-level elected officials and appointees is something that we take very seriously here at Traveler. In this case, the relevant information has been available for years. It's a bit disingenuous for you to imply that we have acted in haste.

I'm ashamed that Hastings comes from my state.

We have beautiful parks in Washington, as do most other states. These apologists for moneyed interests truly dismay me.

Remember, the federal government already owns 65% of the land in the west.

To TJM,

Which means Americans own 65% of the land. It's wonderful that Americans have the freedom to access this great land. It's a great argument for American Exceptionalism.

It is interesting to note that a major sponsor of the 1916 bill that created the National Park Service was Senator Reed Smoot of Utah. A Republican and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Horace Albright credited Smoot for his work in getting the bill passed. Smoot's house is a National Historic Landmark.

Well, I'd like to say that I'm for all the great initiatives to insure that the wilderness stays wilderness and is to be enjoyed by all to it's fullest. But I can't. Because I, as have so many, have experienced the push that the environmental groups have brought about. I have always tried to be open minded and look at both sides of the issues with compassion for all involved. Well that attitude ended somewhere along the line and I guess I am now one of those dreadful people who will do anything I can to oppose certain environmental groups and there initiatives. November 2nd was a start and it could just be the beginning. Some people pushed a little too hard. Don't complain if it doesn't work out to your liking. You may bear more responsibility for the outcome of the election than those such as I. You could have had more allies but you have created more adversaries instead.
Lets trust in the old saying that "Everything works out for the best in the end".

Ron (obxguys}

Kurt, Hope you are doing well and have great Holidays

The summary of Representative Bishop's record in this article strikes me as being largely misleading. For instance it pairs "Opposed the National Landscape Conservation System" with "which would not create any new Federally-owned lands" - but is there any indication that Rep. Bishop's opposition to the NLCS has anything to do with whether it would create new Federally-owned lands or not? More importantly, the next point pairs "Opposed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009" with "that created... wilderness... in and around Zion National Park in his home State." Except that, according to Traveler's own reporting on this subject, Rep. Bishop's opposition to the OPLMA 2009 had *nothing* do with designating wilderness in Utah. http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2009/03/house-fails-pass-massive-lands-bill-would-have-aided-national-park-system In fact, if you follow the links from this post by Traveler, one learns that in fact Rep. Bishop was the *sponsor* of the Utah wilderness provisions in that Act, and that Rep. Bishop said that "as good as the Utah bills are, there is so much else that is so outrageously bad that it kind of hurts your heart." The claim about "fishing expeditions" has no evidence provided, so its difficult to judge whether this was a legitimate use of Congress' oversight responsibilities. But as for the final claim that Rep. BIshop was involved in watering down the Public Lands Service Corps - at worst, it appears that Traveler is mixing-up Rep. Bishop's standard call for a "sunset clause" on virtually all Federal programs, with proposals from Rep. Lummia.... and at best, this claim about "watering down" boils down (no pun intended) to a legitimate policy dispute over what priority should be given to wildfire management with limited public lands resources. Hardly a damning indictment as to whether or not a representative "value [his home State's] natural resources... for their tourism value" - resources that apparently he was apparently even willing to sponsor wilderness designations for. With control of one House of Congress changing hands in the past election, it simply won't be possible to do anything for our National Parks without cooperation across both sides of the aisle. Starting off the conversation with with a misleading account of someone's record unfortunately doesn't strike me as a productive way of starting the conversation on the right foot.

Sabbattis,

We certainly appreciate your holding our feet to the fire. Regarding your points:

* Concerning the Omnibus bill, I wasn't implying that Rep. Bishop's bill had anything to do with the creation of wilderness around Zion, but merely noting that he voted against the bill, one which created millions of acres of wilderness in the West, period. But as with Rep. Hastings, his vote indicated that he opposes NPS projects anywhere but in his home district, as he said he opposed the Patterson Falls provision while Dinosaur National Monument's needs for a new visitor center went unfunded. By the way, he also opposed the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided the funds for that visitor center.

* It should be noted -- and I edited this out to shorten this already long article -- that Mr. Bishop received a "negative" score from Republicans for Environmental Protection for his voting record on environmental issues in 2008 and for the entire 110th Congress. If you look at that story you'll see the long list of environmentally related bills Mr. Bishop opposed for one reason or another.

* As for Mr. Bishop's "fishing expedition," how would you describe a request to the National Park Service for “all documents and correspondence of all types” between the Grand Canyon superintendent and the park’s science director and the media or any individuals working with the National Parks Conservation Association, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Grand Canyon Trust, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Arizona Archeological Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation?

That’s quite a shopping list, no, one without any specific subject matter the congressman was looking for? And the timeframe? Starting from January 1, 2007, and running into 2009. If there was a specific topic or issue the congressman was looking for, it's hard to say, as neither Mr. Bishop's staff nor that of Sen. Coburn, who placed a hold on Jon Jarvis' nomination at Mr. Bishop's request, answered Traveler's requests for an explanation as to what Mr. Bishop was looking for.

* You fail to note Mr. Bishop's interpretation of the GAO study into the Border Patrol and whether environmental regulations impede its efforts along the border. How could he interpret the report as revealing "shocking details that illustrate how U.S. so-called environmental policies are contributing to the ongoing crime and violence along the southern U.S.-Mexico border" while the GAO report itself concludes that "22 of the 26 Border Patrol stations reported that the border security status of their area of operation has not been affected by land management laws." Curious, no?

* In conversations I've had with Mr. Bishop he's expressed a desire to open Utah's public lands to tar sands and oil shale development, operations that are intensely destructive to the environment and require vast amounts of water, which for the second-most arid state in the nation could be problematic.

Mr. Bishop's record on the environment, public lands, and environmental regulations is quite clear. We stand by our story.

I never understood why, as an environmentalist, i'm the one who's responsible for the actions of the energy companies, their ORV industry partners, and any other wilderness enemies. I'm not being hostile, i'm just wondering if you can give a clearer explanation.

Is there a particular individual at the Sierra Club or SUWA that you want to spite? Do you actually just enjoy ATVing on some BLM land near your house, and for you that's a higher priority than wilderness designations? Are you just opposed to conservation in general, but in certain circles you find that its easier to claim you were forced into this position by some environmentalists (which I don't understand, but as I said, would appreciate some clarification)?

Another point that could use some clarification, is the idea that you used to approach environmental issues with compassion for all that were involved, but now you are opposed to environmental initiatives. Does that mean you used to identify with the wilderness cause, but now you only feel compassion for the energy companies and the ATV community? What did you really mean?

Happy Holidays to you and Kurt

To Ron Saunders,

This wave election was no more a rejection of wilderness policy than the 2008 wave election was an embrace of it. There's absolutely no polling data to support your claim.

"What did you mean"
I will assume this is directed to me. First, I do not dislike all enviromentalists nor do I wish to be against all their initiatives. However, If you are aware of the notorious list of signatories to some of the "Science" that has been introduced in the ongoing battle at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, you might understand why many have come to generalize in the use of this term. More specifically I refer to the Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and SELC. But since they signed on a rather extensive list of others in the invironmental field, in an attempt to be all inclusive, I was driven to do the same. I realize that you probably know little of me as I do you. As to the energy companies, I guess that just became part of this by association.
To answer your questions in your second paragraph: No, No, No & No. As to assumptions, I do not have an ATV nor use one to go ATVing on BLM land. I do have a pickup truck that my wife and I use for travel as well as to access the places we enjoy fishing in the surf at CHNS.We are both seniors and find it to be a great asset enabling us to do this. We also clean the beach at regular intervals. Let me add that anyone that questions my motives also questions those of my wife as we feel the same. As to conservation, one does not have to be an environmentalist to be a conservationist or have love and respect for nature. We prefer that we not be associated with the term "environmentalist". We do feed and provide housing for birds, turtles nest in our yard as do rabbits and other wildlife. We try to protect their young until they have a chance in life. We do not feel like any of our activities hurt anyone or anything. Yet we are categorized as ATV,ers destroying the seashore and enemies of nature. So easy to generalize. I never did it before and hate that I do it now.
AS to the energy companies. Here again, mighty general term. I am a realist. We need energy companies. We need for them to be clean and safe. I would be interested to know just how much tax dollars have been spent in this country to insure this. If we are to point fingers, which I feel we should, lets include everyone responsible while we're at it. I don't know of anyone who loves the energy companies except those profitting from them. I just pay. I think that clears that one up.
I do not consider YOU responsible for anything. I would say that the term "Environmentalist" is one that has varying connotations in these times. So I guess that is something that I must remain aware of. Hope others will do the same.
Enjoyed the interaction and Best to you and yours. Hope we all can enjoy our wonderful Parks during the upcoming holidays.

Ron

Ron,

Great reply. I actually know virtually nothing, no...actually nothing, about the Cape Hatteras Sea Shore. The lands near and dear to me are all on the high plains, rockies, and Colorado western slope.

Anyways, your original comment makes a lot more sense to me now that I know that you're talking about management policy for a much more specific area.

You're right. A lot of terms were using are very general, and can have very different connotations depending on their context. For me they even tend to have specific geographic connotations.

Thanks again for the reply. Have a good weekend, and keep loving that beach.

I guess an environmental conservationist visionary could be described as one who takes two thousand people with him on a trip to SE Asia. Most of us who spent a year there would tell him he should save the resources that will be expended in this junket. The dollars spent per day would go a long way towards NPS maint backlogs. Not a case of hand wringing about what might happen...but rather a great example of why the owners have demanded change.

Apparently, Anonymous, the figure of thousands said to be accompanying the president on his trip to India was a figment of somebody's imagination.

The NY Times quotes a Pentagon official, when asked if Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that 3,000 were accompanying the president was accurate, as saying the figure was "just comical" and that "nothing close to that is being done."

Now, if you have documentation of the size of the entourage, we'd certainly be interested in learning of it. Apparently the Pentagon, for security reasons, does not divulge the size of the president's -- this president or any president -- traveling party.

Kurt, thank you posting the comments on this issue. As we all look at things a little differently, its important to respect the many opposing points of view that exist on the website. But I must agree with the "Traveler", congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was being interviewed by CNN reporter Anderson Cooper. Michelle Bachman was carrying on about the over expenditures, fraud and abuse that exists in the US Government including the "entitlement" programs of medicare and social security. Anderson Cooper asked Bachmann if she could be a little more specific in exactly what she thought the fraud and abuse was and what might be cut from the above programs. Bachmann, instead of responding to the question, immediately went into a rant about the President's trip to India, including the 200 million a day, 54 war ships, etc. When Cooper asked Bachmann where she got this information, she replied, from the" News". This was a hot topic on Fox "NEWS" , Michelle Bachmann being a regular contributer to said. It is disconcerting to me that Congresswomen Bachmann would be so irresponsible, in my own view, as to repeat such a high school locker room rumor. Best to you and I do appreciate reading the comments from all viewpoints on the "Traveler".

We need to publicize the huge economic benefit national parks and monuments have for their local regions. These right wingers ignore these benefits preferring to fantasize that logging and mining will have greater benefits. The fact is, the right doesn't like tourism or the service industry because it offends their cultural bias toward "redneck" industry like ATVs and strip mines.

This is all part of the culture wars. Its not about substance. We must connect directly with the public in places like Utah to help them push these knuckle draggers into the present.

Hi Kurt,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I still hope that members of both parties will be able to put aside partisanship in the 112th Congress and work together to strengthen our public lands. I definitely take scorecards with a grain of salt (actually Bob Janiskee's comment on that article sums up my thoughts pretty well - they're not a perfect yardstick, but better than nothing) - but certainly the two years worth of scores presented from interest groups on both sides of the aisle is notable. In fact all told, I'd argue that it is one of the stronger bits of evidence for your case, relative to some of the other anecdotes presented.

I actually happen to agree with you on the interpretation of the GAO report, but I can also see how someone who is making a strong political push for addressing the illegal immigration situation in this country through tighter border security would view environmental regulations hampering activities at 4 out of 26 (15%) border patrol stations as a "glass is half empty" situation

And finally, it should be noted that in opposing the provision for Paterson Great Falls NHP, Rep. Bishop is apparently in good company: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2007/10/new-jersey-delegation-unduly-forcing-great-falls-paterson-park-nps

Sabattis,

I'm all for bipartisanship. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be in the cards.

As for Paterson Great Falls, strange bedfellows indeed!

I just discovered this, got a huge kick out of it, and think this would be a very appropriate place to share it. It's the Conservative Republican version of the old hymn, AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL:

Oh, beautiful, polluted skies
For insecticided grain
For strip mined mountain majesty
Above thy asphalted plain.

America, America

Man sheds his waste on thee
And hides the pines
With billboard signs
From sea to oily sea.

– George Carlin

The relocation of the Stehiken Road would to an old wagon road that is in the Wilderness and out of where it is in shambles now in a non-sustainable environmentally sensitive area. The Hastings bill would call for no net loss of Wilderness. It will mean relocating some of the PCT though. As to fish stocking "barren" lakes, those lakes have been stocked from before the Wilderness was legislated, as well as during the decades the Wilderness has been in place. Both of these Rep. Hastings bills are supported as appropriate by the author of the North Cascades Wilderness authorization legislation and would open up no more Wilderness practices than were in place at the time. As to allowing the Border Patrol to police the border and to get drug harvesters and smugglers out of the Wilderness and buffer areas, that could be perceived as good for Wilderness management and for preserving Wilderness character.

You can leave out facts if you want to spin your positions, and I'm sure there are many bloggers who will eat that up, but I happen to feel I have a right to love Wilderness and support those policies that do allow controlled human activity as written into the Wilderness Act. If you don't want this to be a partisan issue, then stop being so unobjectively partisan. I support the Wilderness Society and I support the Hastings bills. One does not necessarily preclude the other. They both deal with laws and facts.