Letter: Bill threatens national forests
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Surveillance drones patrolling National Parks, new roads in pristine wilderness, or bases at backcountry lakes? The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act (HR 1505) would "prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from taking action on public lands which impede border security on such lands." The Department of Homeland Security could ignore the Wilderness Act and 30 other laws in a 100-mile zone bordering Mexico and Canada. It will affect 54 units of the National Parks, 228 wildlife refuges, 122 units of the National Wilderness Preservation, and 87 units of the Bureau of Land Management.
DHS would have unchecked authority to use vehicles and drones, and build roads, radio towers, living quarters, airstrips, and "forward operating bases" in the North Cascades, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Olympic and Colville National Forests.
Even the DHS opposes this bill.
Clearly, HR 1505 is fixing a problem that doesn't exist. This bill could pass the U.S. House of Representatives soon. Congress should reject this unnecessary and unwanted takeover and protect Washington's treasures.
I have dedicated over 20 years to protecting lands for recreation through The Access Fund, and by volunteering for search and rescue with the Volcano Rescue Team. This law could forever change the Evergreen State to a border patrol zone.