By The Bakersfield Californian
In the Aug. 29 article "Release of lands long overdue," Chris Horgan claims that HR 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, would "once again" allow access for "motorized recreation, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, camping as well as horse riding and hiking" on 43 million acres of national forest roadless areas and wilderness study areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
In reality, you can already fish, hunt, ride a horse, camp, mountain-bike, and even conduct forest thinning and prescriptive management fires in all national forest roadless areas -- and you have always been able to do these things.
In reality, most of the lands that would be affected by HR 1581 are accessible by motor vehicle. In reality, there are already more than 46,000 miles of roads and trails now open for motorized use on national forest lands in California.
Maybe some roadless areas and wilderness study areas -- which provide key habitat for many popular fish and game species -- should be reclassified to allow more resource extraction or off-road vehicle recreation. But not all at once, and not by top-down big-government action, which is exactly what HR 1581 would do, and is.
Kern River Fly Fishers