Wildlands Project writ large
By Henry Lamb
web posted March 3, 2003
When Earth First! co-founder, Dave Foreman, first voiced his
vision in 1990, of wolves and grizzly bears roaming, unmolested
by humans, through unbroken wilderness from Mexico to
Canada -- many people laughed. When Reed Noss first
published his Wildlands Project in
1992, calling for the conversions of "at least half" of the United
States to "core wilderness areas," surrounded by buffer zones in
which human activity was to be severely limited -- few people
When the U.S. Senate learned in 1994, that the U.N.
Convention on Biological Diversity embraced this "Wildlands
Project" concept, it chose to
not ratify the treaty. But the Clinton/Gore administration
decided to pursue Dave Foreman's dream anyway, and set out
to transform America's land use policies through a multitude of
new rules and regulations bundled neatly into what it called its
"Ecosystem Management Policy."
Now, a New Jersey Congressman, Robert Andrews, has
decided to write into law the very same U.N. policies rejected
by the Senate, and promoted by environmental extremists. His
National Forest Ecosystem Protection Act ( HR652),
requires the Forest Service to designated "core wilderness areas,
" and surround them with "primitive areas" in which human
activity is severely limited.
The bill also requires the "permanent phase out of commercial
To achieve this transformation of the American landscape, the
bill appropriates $100 million per year for 13 years to acquire
private property East of Denver. Additional millions are
appropriated to acquire private property and other land use
rights West of Denver.
This bill leaves many questions unanswered:
1. Why is a New Jersey Congressman who sits on the Armed
Forces Committee, promoting this bill that can transform almost
every state except New Jersey?
2. How many "core reserves" will be created?
3. How many acres will be designated as "primitive areas?"
4. How many acres of private property will be added to the
federal land inventory?
5. What percentage of land must the government own in order to
adequately protect the environment?
These, and many other questions go unanswered because Bill
Caruso, designated press spokesman for Congressman
Andrews, failed to return repeated phone calls to his office.
Congressman Andrews' bill appears to be a direct response to
Dave Foreman's fantasy. Foreman said in 1990, " Move out the
people and cars. Reclaim the roads and plowed land." Section
8(d) of the bill says: "The Secretary shall begin closing unmapped
roads, temporary roads, and unimproved cherry-stemmed roads
in a primitive area as soon as practicable...."
Foreman says: "Terminate commercial livestock grazing on the
western public lands!" Andrews' bill says: "Any commercial
grazing permitted, as of the date of the enactment of this Act, in
the primitive areas delineated under this section shall be phased
out as provided in section 5."
The Wildlands Project is no longer a laughing matter. Already,
nine bills have been introduced to expand wilderness in America.
Nearly two dozen bills have been introduced which authorize the
government's purchase of additional private property. The
concept of "multiple use" of so-called "public land" is being
replaced with the reality of "no use" of public land. Logging,
grazing, mining - use of America's resources - is being curtailed
for the benefit of a turtle, or a frog, or a weed.
The nine million acres of wilderness originally designated by the
1964 Wilderness Act, has grown to hundreds of millions of acres
of wilderness, including 47 U.N. "Biosphere Reserves."
Governments already own more than 40% of the total land area
in America. The Andrews bill seeks to take even more land out
The land, the source of our economic prosperity, is being locked
up, out of reach of individuals and industry, forcing our economic
future to become dependent upon the very nations that eagerly
await America's downfall.
Efforts to protect the environment by assigning the responsibility
to government, are simply wrongheaded. The most degraded
environments in the world are those for which the government
has primary management responsibility. The forest fires of recent
years are further evidence of government's inability to manage
the land it already owns.
Private owners are, by far, better stewards of the resources
upon which their livelihood depends, than is an agency of
government, or an organization of zealots, or an international
commission meeting in Gland Switzerland.
Dave Foreman's vision, and Robert Andrews' bill should be
rejected. Free people create free markets; neither can survive
when the government owns the sources of production.
Henry Lamb is the
executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation
Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International .
Enter Stage Right -- http://www.enterstageright.com