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.


  1. Those foul words “public access” sound good to people who think they have a right to spoil a place just for the sake of fun, or, perhaps, the macho image of a tough ATV bushwhacking across rough country.

    The prostitute analogy is a good one!



    Comment by knightofswords — November 15, 2007 @ 8:18 pm

  2. I guess I’m losing patience with the “spin” that is being put on every issue these days and the outright lies that are being sent our way by the politicians who are owned by the major money interests. The term “public access” infuriates me because it’s an example of putting spin on an issue rather than address it with truth and integrity.


    Comment by montucky — November 15, 2007 @ 8:27 pm

  3. I’m so glad that people like you are getting worked up about these issues. I wish I could be out there fighting the good fight with you! I’ll be back someday to help out.


    Comment by teaspoon — November 15, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  4. That’s because they _are_ prostitutes – they’re just not selling sex. I’d add a smiley if I was being funny, but I’m not.


    Comment by Adam R. Paul — November 15, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

  5. teaspoon,

    I have a sense that they are so many more folks out there who feel the same way we do about these types of things. Now if we can figure out how to find them and harness their energy and voting power I think we could get some things on the right track. I have confidence that when you are able to come back west you will be very well equipped to help out!


    Comment by montucky — November 15, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

  6. Adam,

    Exactly! They don’t sell sex, they sell their integrity, and after doing it for so long, many don’t even realize it.


    Comment by montucky — November 15, 2007 @ 10:47 pm

  7. …being on this side of the mt. ranges I’ve noticed that Idaho makes a lot of $$ out of winter and ATV trails … between you and I Terry I think it’s the only real tourism that hits that area. They even (over here) have a 30 minute spot on PSB boasting of the longest trails of ATV and snowmobiles trails in the country. It just saddens me…. what of the caribou? the few grizzles left in the US {except yours of course}? and we’ll honestly they’ll crawl over here and the lynx will sadly disappear too.

    I guess you analogy is pretty correct really aren’t most prostitutes doing it for the $$? I completely agree, public access is a word for do just about anything you like and it is completely offensive to anyone who really loves nature.

    You need help in anyway, just let me know.


    Comment by aullori — November 16, 2007 @ 1:48 am

  8. Lori,

    In Montana, these guys have frightened everyone with the lose “public access” scare to the point that they use it like a magic wand and everyone starts to whimper, not realizing it’s untrue 99% of the time.


    Comment by montucky — November 16, 2007 @ 9:07 am

  9. I am sure these guys are making a fortune off the atv and snowmobile lobbyists. We had the same problems with the atv’s when they made them legal on county rodes, many children have been killed or injured because of the industry putting money in the politicians pockets.


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — November 16, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

  10. There’s certainly money in those lobbies. Tourism is the number one industry in Montana, and there are huge amounts spent tied to the winter visitors to Yellowstone. Over-exploiting the area is actually pretty stupid though when you think about it. Kind of like killing the golden goose.


    Comment by montucky — November 16, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  11. If we keep allowing unlimited access, there will be no wilderness, not even managed natural lands. Who cares about some trees and mountains when one doesn’t mind killing the planet. My congressman (Russ Feingold -WI) and his staff know me by name. The squeaky wheel, etc…
    I hate the fighting though. Why?


    Comment by barbara — November 17, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

  12. Exactly the point, barbara! We need to stop “managing” the wild country and start protecting it! It’s a sorry situation that our elected officials not only don’t fix the problem, but are the main part of it!


    Comment by montucky — November 17, 2007 @ 6:24 pm

  13. How effective are regional groups (especially Yellowstone Coalition and American Wilderness Coalition) — and will they get involved in the MT/WY House elections of ’08?


    Comment by JD — November 18, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  14. Thanks for visiting, JD!

    So far I haven’t seen much at all from any of the groups, partly because at the moment there aren’t any active new candidates. Bill Edwards was gearing up to oppose Rehberg, but just the other day backed out because of health reasons.

    The politics of Montana (and I think Wyoming too) is completely controlled by the special interests who have the money. It’s hard to make any inroads against that.

    I personally think that the regional groups are so fragmented that they’re not at all effective. There are so many of them that they dilute the numbers of the folks who are interested. I regularly visit over a dozen of their websites and find most of them to be badly out of date and just not kept up.


    Comment by montucky — November 18, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  15. you say: “… regional groups are so fragmented that they’re not at all effective. There are so many of them that they dilute the numbers of the folks who are interested. ”

    So where does someone who lives in another state direct his/her support? (Please don’t tell me to contact my senators … I live in Texas, and those two have never seen a pro environmental bill they like.)


    Comment by JD — November 18, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  16. JD,

    I’m still trying to figure out the most effective things we can do. So far, I feel that voicing an opinion to the management of an individual forest during a comment period at least goes into the statistics for/against that issue and therefore at least does some good. Communications to the legislators involved may fall on deaf (or biased) ears, although I do it anyway. “Letters to the editor” do get some attention. and most major newspapers have online editions which accept viewpoints and comments to other letters.

    In general, I know that $$$ speak the loudest, and that’s, of course, the main problem. Second though, is numbers, and however we can add to the numbers that support an issue (or oppose one) will certainly help.

    I personally think that the single biggest problem in getting things done regarding many of the environmental problems, especially those concerning the National Forests and Parks is getting people from all over this country to realize that they own these places every bit as much as those of who live in the states which contain them.

    I can walk outside and look up into the Cherry Creek roadless area in the beautiful Coeur d’Alene Mountains about ten miles away, but you, living in Texas, own exactly as much of that area as I do. We have to make our political “leaders” in your state and mine thoroughly understand that concept and fact!


    Comment by montucky — November 18, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  17. Excellent post, Montucky. I’ll see what I can do about coming up with an intelligent missive to send.

    Thanks for all of your work on behalf of the planet.


    Comment by Pinhole — November 19, 2007 @ 11:07 am

  18. Thanks, Pinhole!

    I would think a message from you would carry even more weight since, as I seem to recall, you live in one of the 6 states which do not have any wilderness. (Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Rhode Island)


    Comment by montucky — November 19, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

  19. […] THE INFAMOUS MAGIC WORDS “public access” again! […]


    Pingback by Once again, the Parks lose « Montana Outdoors — November 21, 2007 @ 10:09 am

  20. OK, maybe it’s time for another opinion. I was born and raised 60 miles south of Yellowstone (Jackson Hole), I’m the fifth generation and there is already a sixth. I grew up snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. I am currently serving in the military, but I try to get home as often as I can. One of my great loves in life is Yellowstone in the winter; you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen the caldera covered in snow!
    My brother happens to work for a snowmobile outfitter who runs trips into Yellowstone. And I thank GOD for our representatives in congress who are standing up for the rights of the people who actually live, and make a living there! The last people who should be telling the people of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana how to handle our business is some environmental Nazi, or the politicians they have in their pockets. Now I’m all for conservation, but what is the point of having these resources if the people can’t enjoy them.
    Tree huggers like you all should move to Canada or California if you want everything regulated like a socialist nation!!!


    Comment by Moo — November 26, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

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