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Voice: Who really are the environmental extremists?

May 22, 2002

In his commentary May 16, Mr. Mobley paints the picture of a man apparently compelled to sigh, shake his head and roll his eyes as, again, the environmental extremists try to deceive and rob the American public of what is rightfully theirs.

Yes, Mr. Mobley, "here we go again," but it is you and Rep. Hunter and his discordantly vocal off-highway vehicle-user supporters who seem to be spinning endlessly on your rhetorical hamster wheel.

I did not mention in my recent letter to the I.V. Press that Rep. Hunter's spokesperson at the recent BLM public hearing in San Diego was directing his comments to the environmental extremist as opposed to the mainstream environmentalist because I didn't hear that and it would have been clear even to Helen Keller he was not. Certainly that much was clear to his supporters, who booed, jeered and cat-called whenever anyone even hinted he/she was interested in non-OHV environmental protections for any portion of the Algondones Dunes

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The apparent fraud you assert is being committed by environmental extremists is being committed by "socialist and elitist" members of such "extremist" groups as the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society, both of which have millions of members and supporters (God help us; we're being overrun!). Who then are the "mainstream environmentalists" you say Rep. Hunter alluded to? Answer: OHVers, of course.

What is happening in the dunes is merely the perfectly legal exercise of, among others, the Federal Land Management Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, Executive Orders 11644 and 11989, and the U.S. Constitution, as well the execution of the legal mandates of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of the Interior and the BLM.

You are correct in saying "Americans DO have every right to use public lands designated for off-road use." Few if any of us "extremists" suggest this is not the case. The key distinction between your comment and mine is the word "designated." It is the legal obligation of the BLM to prepare a mangement plan for the dunes, which must take into account a variety of laws and agency policies as well as the opinions of ALL members of the public who wish to comment. If you're looking for cases of how Americans are being raped on their public lands, you will more likely find them where OHV use is permitted statewide and across the nation.

Over 100,000 miles of roads and trails and hundreds of thousands of acres of open areas are available to OHVers in California. The environmental impacts to these areas have been documented. Yet OHVers still feel "raped" when environmentalists propose designating 50 percent of the dunes for OHV use as opposed to the historical 70.

In a March 1998 state parks survey and report, Public Opinions and Attitudes on Outdoor Recreation in California 1997, respondents not only indicated hiking, nature study and camping were the most popular uses for public lands but they felt 100,000 miles of roads and trails for off-road vehicles was far too excessive.

Where is the benefit to the public at large from the tax dollars spent on managing the people and the dunes due to increasing use, apparently done with few if any fees or permits? Is asking that land be designated as wilderness or for non-OHV use a deceitful attempt to close public lands? Of course not. I contend your use of such language as "extreme, unethical and illusionist tactics to land grab" is itself quite extremist and perhaps the result of Rep. Hunter's political puppeteering skills.

Your "use it or lose it" view of public lands harks back to the mentality of the U.S. policy of manifest destiny, which had obvious non-beneficial effects on the original campers and backpackers of that time. As enlightened as Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot were regarding conservation policies, that was a century ago. There are a great many more Americans around now who have found new technologically expedient ways to degrade the environment.

Nothing stays the same; that's the ultimate rule of nature. If we do not adopt some preservationist policies into all public land use, including those managed by BLM, nothing will be here very soon.

MIKE BREWSTER

La Mesa

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