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Voice: Hunters remarks were a "declaration of war"

May 08, 2002

Regarding your recent article that described the last of six public hearings that took place in San Diego for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Imperial Sand Dunes draft management plan, I found a notable discrepancy between a quote in the I.V. Press article and my recollection of the event.

Public comments began with a spokesperson reading a letter by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine. In providing the opening remarks of the evening, Rep. Hunter clearly intended to educate the BLM that what was to follow for the rest of the evening was a melodrama in which off-highway vehicle users and the philosophy of intensive use of public lands are "good" and wilderness supporters and the environmental ethic are "bad."

In reference to the letter provided by Rep. Hunter, your article said: "The letter goes on to refer to environmentalists as "enviros.'"

I distinctly remember Duncan Hunter's representative refer to "environmentalists as "environmental extremists," a term that obviously was intended to classify those who support open space and environmental protections as a demented and radical fringe element, bent on blaspheming the U.S. Constitution and desecrating the graves of more than two centuries of American veterans of war who died for the purpose of providing any American citizen the right to blast a dune buggy through any piece of public land he or she desires.

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I feel the reality is that Duncan Hunter and his OHV supporters are emerging as a disconcerting and potentially dangerous right-wing movement that seeks to pervert the environmental protections for public land and resources that were voted in by Congress with the support of millions of Americans, most, if not all, of whom are and were every bit as red-blooded and loyal to the spirit of freedom and democracy that inspired the birth and perserverance of the nation.

Duncan Hunter's opening remarks were a vulgar and insulting declaration of war against this spirit, unbefitting

of the type of representation that the citizens of San Diego and Imperial counties, not to mention the nation, deserve. As California's population continues to grow, pressure to wring every last bit of use out of public lands is increasing proportionately.

However, the environmental ethic is NOT going to die and there are STILL millions of Americans who support wilderness protections even if they NEVER visit the places being protected. It is a consolation to many that at least some wilderness and nature remains and that these remainders speak for centuries to come about how some people along the way made the connection between natural beauty and nurturance of the human spirit.

Preserving an equal share of the dunes for wilderness and an equal share for OHV use is NOT going to bring our country down. It is more likely that the spirit of "all or nothing," as reflected in Rep. Hunter's letter and last Thursday's booing and jeering by his supporters, will.

MIKE BREWSTER

La Mesa

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