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Dedicated to conservation and multiple use of public lands for recreation opportunities

Edited by: John Stewart

The Best Exercise: Your Right to Vote

by: John Stewart, Director of Environmental Affairs, UFWDA

Every two years, Americans have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. This year, 2002, is a time when every seat in the House of Representatives is up for election. Nation wide, many Senators and state governors are also up for election. This year is also the year when re-districting due to the 2000 census will have an impact on the congressional races.

In California, the impact of redistricting is being felt in San Diego and Imperial Counties which have been represented by one individual that has been a friend of recreation: Duncan Hunter. For those not in tune with the southern California, Imperial County is home to the Glamis San Dunes, also known as Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

The area is a very popular recreation area and is a prime target for the wilderness advocates. Duncan Hunter has stood up to the wilderness advocates and represented recreation interests.

The problem is, redistricting has caused some changes. Duncan Hunter no longer represents Imperial County and the sand dunes area. That area has been annexed to Bob Filner's district. Filner is one of the more liberal of liberal Democrats in the House. He is not a friend of recreation. His constituents are the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity.

Some of you may wonder why a 4-wheeler should be concerned with the sand-buggy and ATV area. Well, Imperial County is also the location of Truckhaven Hills. If you have heard of Tierra del Sol Desert Safari, that is Truckhaven. It is one of the premier 4-wheeling spots left in the state.

So, the stakes are high for this election cycle. Every pro-access candidate elected (or re-elected) is a plus for recreation.

Senator Boxer has introduced her vision of California Heritage Wilderness in the Senate. That "vision" is not expected to advance; however, it will never go away.

Three representatives from California have introduced their version of the overall Boxer Wilderness proposal. Together, these three bills encompass more area than the Boxer bill. They will not go away.

So, you don't live in California and have no influence on the California Heritage Wilderness proposal? Not quite. Congressional hearings will be held in the House and Senate during coming years. Your elected representatives are the ones that will be making the decisions on those bills.

Similar wilderness initiatives are being prepared for New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and other states. In Florida, almost 90 percent of the state is private property. Efforts are underway to transform private land into government ownership. The name of the plan is The Wildlands Project.

There are two critical points that must succeed in the November election:

Pro-access candidate must retain control of the House.
Pro-access candidate must regain control of the Senate.

Neither is a direct boon to motorized recreation. Both are necessary to preserve what we have.

Finally, if you are not registered to vote, please do not delay: REGISTER TO VOTE.

Election day is November 5. Please exercise your right to vote. Vote for and support pro-access candidates at all levels of government.

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