In a victory for conservationists, Basalt Fire District officials put their support behind designation of roughly 90% of Colorado’s Basalt Mountain (almost 19 square miles) as wilderness. For more on EF! activity in the area, visit Earth First! Durango’s facebook page. There will be a gathering of Earth First!ers to discuss local action in Colorado at Feral Futures in June. See http://feralfutures.proboards.com/ for info on how to get there.
The Pennsylvania Wilderness Coalition formed a couple of days ago out of 6 different environmental groups representing over 65,000 members. The prime goal is wilderness designation in the Alleghany Forest. Earth First!ers were and are part of the movement, along with the Alleghany Defense Project, to protect the Alleghany from logging under the East Side Timber Sale. Last we heard, there are still only two fairly small protected areas in the entire Alleghany National Forest, so hopefully the new PWC will get things going pronto.
The first formal steps took place this week to forward wilderness bills in Congress for the Southwest. A million acres of desert lands in Southern California is proposed for wilderness by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but controversy about the placement of ‘renewable’ energy sources have stalled the bill. Rep. Martin Heinrich wants a large, North-South stretch of the Cibola National Forest in Central New Mexico, which will function as an open and safe wildlife corridor while maintaining “la cultura de las montañas” of the historic East Mountain. Meanwhile, the Tumacocori Highlands area in southern Arizona, prime habitat for the near-extinct Jaguar, is still being worked on by Congressman Raul Grijalva of Tucson despite complications with border policy.
Speaking of border politics, a panel on wilderness preservation in New Mexico drew lots of heat last week. Stacked with Border Patrol Agents, Tea Party reps and other anti-immigration ideologues, the panel argued that the proposed wilderness area in the Potrillo Mountains would engender violent smuggling along the Mexico border. According to the panel, designating 143,450 acres Potrillo Mountains as wilderness and establishing wilderness areas in the Organ Mountains, the Aden Lava Flow, Broad Canyon, Robledo Mountains and the Sierra de las Uvas Mountains would bring in smugglers who wanted to avoid law enforcement. If this were true, which it’s not (much to our chagrin, Border Patrol can and do pursue smugglers anywhere they want) at least smugglers coming into wilderness areas would be able to appreciate nature better than these panelists.
Finally, activists are pushing to protect the San Gabriel Mountains an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. With the Freddies’ budget being cut, development encroaching, and eco-tourist tracks getting worse, the area is in serious danger. The proposal that many activists are putting forward would add 30,000 acres to three existing wilderness areas and have 44 miles of San Antonio Creek, the middle fork of Lytle Creek and portions of the San Gabriel River’s east, west and north forks protected under the national Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which would prohibit new damming. So far, nine cities and several churches have backed the proposal.