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Edited by: John Stewart

The Boxer Wilderness Bill - Time To Step Up To The Plate

July 22, 2002

by: Pete Conaty, Executive Director
California League of Off Road Voters

Environmental extremists, with the enthusiastic support of liberal politicians in Washington, are waging an endless war against Californians, who simply want to enjoy the natural beauties of this extraordinarily state in their off road vehicles.

Nearly a decade ago U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of San Francisco, managed to put 7 million acres of Southern California desert off limits to Californians. Now, her ultra-liberal Democrat colleague from Marin County (home to Johnny Taliban), Sen. Barbara Boxer, is attempting to close another 2.5 million acres of public land to the public.

We can stop Boxer from getting away with this outrageous land grab, but we can't do it by sitting at home and muttering about "environmental whackos". We must develop enough political strength to convince the majority of California's congressional delegation that it will be political suicide to co-author or even vote for the Boxer bill, Senate Bill 2535.

This battle must be waged at the national level. The fate of California's natural heritage will be in the hands not only of Californians but of federal legislators from 49 other states. Most of them, including many eastern Republican moderates, know little about the realities of life in California. Many others are environmental radicals from big cities on the East Coast. We must work hard to educate the moderates and even harder to defeat the extremists. At the top of our list is Senator Barbara Boxer.

California League of Off Road Voters (CLORV) primary objective over the next two years will be to kill the Boxer bill and then to defeat her in the 2004 election. It won't be easy. Environmental extremists from throughout the country are backing the Boxer bill, and they will throw big money behind her reelection effort.

In addition, we will be fighting another enemy hidden within the government bureaucracy - public employees who not only advocate environmental extremism but who also falsify evidence to support their efforts. In the California desert, they created bogus threatened species listings for the Pierson's Milkvetch in order to close more desert to off-road recreation. In other states, environmental extremists tried to close 57 national forests by planting Canadian lynx hairs in Washington state. Fortunately, they were caught, but there is no doubt that more of this is going on as the extremists abuse the Endangered Species Act.

As usual, motorized off-road recreation is the primary target of this latest liberal land grab. Like many other environmental elitists, Boxer detests the three million Californians who enjoy off-road recreation. She has more sympathy for obscure rodents and obnoxious weeds than for the men, women and children of the off-road community. Nor does she care that off road recreation contributes more than $9 billion dollars annually to the California economy.

If you have any doubts about how out of touch with reality she is, listen to what Boxer had to say about her campaign to close 2.5 million acres of public land: "People will be so excited to see land that looks pretty much the way it looked when it was created."

But who will get to see it? Boxer's bill would keep out just about everyone except hikers in Olympic game condition from 2.5 million acres of California - all of it owned by the public. She wants to ban not only motorized vehicles but also mountain bikes. And, of course, the disabled would not be welcome. Just about every place in the nation must have handicapped access, but not Barbara Boxer's personal wildlife preserve.

We will be facing a wealthy and unscrupulous enemy in this battle. Off-roaders must build a powerful coalition of our own with other Californians who enjoy outdoor recreation. We can begin at the grassroots. Already, the Boards of Supervisors of four counties - Alpine, El Dorado, Mariposa and San Bernardino - have passed resolutions opposing the Boxer bill. Off-roaders in other counties should be urging their county supervisors to pass similar resolutions.

The California League of Off Road Voters Political Action Committee (CLORV PAC) Board of Directors has voted to not endorse any candidates, at any level - county supervisors, state or federal legislators, or candidates for statewide office - who support the Boxer bill. We must draw a line in the sand, (and the mountains) while we still have some sand open to us.

At the same time, we must support legislators and other candidates who understand that public lands belong to the public and help elect them to office.

A decade ago, wishful thinkers said that the Feinstein desert closing bill would be the last attack on the rights of Californians to use public lands for public recreation. Barbara Boxer and her environmental extremists allies have proven them wrong. And they will be wrong again if they think the Boxer bill is the last great land grab. It must end here and now.

Environmentalists will never be satisfied. They began closing public lands to the public with nine million acres of "wilderness" in 1964. Boxer originally wanted to take 7 million acres, but "scaled it back" to 2.5 million acres. If she manages to win this battle, she will soon be trying to padlock the other 4.5 million acres in California - or more.

Unless we stop her! The only thing politicians understand is what they hear from the voters. For too long they have only heard from the environmental extremists. If off roaders don't step up to the plate now, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

The first step is to register to vote if you are not already registered. Then, make sure you only vote for candidates who oppose wilderness areas and support off road motorized recreation. CLORV PAC will soon have a complete list of candidates posted on its website. We are gathering information on candidates by surveying them for their attitudes toward off roading and wilderness areas.

Second, get involved in your local elections and spend some time helping your local pro-off road candidates. Is it worth giving up a Saturday, or Sunday, to help a candidate in order to save your off road riding area?

Lastly, contribute what you can to your local candidate or to the CLORV PAC. Checks of $25 - $50 add quickly and can make the difference in a close election. Is it worth the cost of a tank of gas to help save your favorite off road riding area? By contributing to CLORV PAC, we can pool our off road contributions to make a real difference in an election.

Only you can decide.

Just don't come and complain to the hardworking volunteer off road leadership if the Boxer bill passes and they close your off road riding area if you haven't stepped up to the plate and helped to make a difference.

For information on how you can help, visit our website at <www.clorv.org>www.clorv.org or mail a check to:

CLORV PAC, 1014 Eleventh Street, Suite 140, Sacramento, CA 95814

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