Montana Outdoors

November 15, 2007

The infamous magic words

As reported in this story, when 86 lawmakers across the U.S. asked the Park Service to limit motorized winter travel in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks to trips aboard guided snowcoaches as a means of protecting the Parks, guess who the 10 politicians were who got together to oppose that plan, saying “the need to preserve the parks needs to be balanced against public access“? (Essentially the same argument was used against the Wilderness Bill, HR 1975.)

The 10 are:

Denny Rehberg, (R) Representative, Montana
Jon Tester, (D) Senator, Montana
Max Baucus, (D) Senator, Montana
Bill Sali, (R) Representative, Idaho
Michael K. Simpson, (R) Representative, Idaho
Larry Craig, (R) Senator, Idaho
Mike Crapo, (R) Senator, Idaho
Barbara Cubin, (R) Representative, Wyoming
John Barrasso, (R) Senator, Wyoming
Michael Enzi, (R) Senator, Wyoming

It’s becoming obvious that these western politicians feel that the magic words “public access” provide an almost universal excuse for permitting all possible exploitation of the outdoors. Who would dare to be so cynical as to say that maintaining their constituents’ ability to make the maximum amount money from the National Parks in their area, despite whatever damage it might incur, has anything to do with it? I guess it must not be all that important to be concerned about the environment. (Don‘t worry about the world of Nature: what the heck… it‘s not as if we can’t make more!)

They remind me of a group of prostitutes who, when there is a crackdown on their activities, counter it by advertising “everyday low prices”!

The real argument here should be about how and what it takes to adequately protect the environment of the parks. When, and only when that has been determined and accomplished does it become appropriate to address the amount and types of access that are reasonable and acceptable. Until then to simply talk about “balance” between the two is nothing more than misleading rhetoric used by those to whose advantage it is to continue a maximum level of exploitation.

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