Conservation & Environmental Affairs
Land Use and The Vicious Green Circle
By Del Albright
Ive written and spoke about it before: the vicious green circle. Is it real? You betcha! Can you see it? 10-4 on that. Can you experience it? Yep, again. What it is and why should you care one way or the other? Well, from what folks in the know are telling me the time has never been better to understand the "circle" and BREAK it!
Like any vicious circle (similar to arguing with your vehicle) its never ending and yet keeps coming around to its beginning. The last time I argued with my old CJ-7 about whom was boss, we spent hours of me being frustrated and getting no where. I think the CJ won.
Unless circles are broken, they continue to wind their way through themselves until returning to the beginning and starting over again. Now I know thats heavy. But think about it. Most debates can end up that way especially those over philosophy, religion or politics. I can also relate this idea to some of the meetings we have with bureaucrats. Seems like we always end up back at the beginning or no where. There are times when we can certainly chase the same rabbits all day.
So how does this apply to the vicious green circle? Simple. The basic goal of most protectionist (radical) preservationists groups (sometimes called GAGS for Green Advocacy Groups, or anti-access radicals) is to have more Wilderness and less human impact on resources. Thats what it boils down to.
To do that they have banded together (no matter what their particular interest), and developed a series of strategies to eventually accomplish their primary goal of excluding people from public lands. Just to list a few, those strategies include things like:
Have you heard of buffer strips? Thats a nickname for the area surrounding a Wilderness where the solitude seekers do not want to see/smell or hear human impacts. That means they dont want polluted air (smog) drifting up from the city into their viewshed (how many miles can you see from the top of one of the Sierra Nevada mountaintops?). Further, they certainly dont want to have to drink polluted water up there in the high country, so cattle are out of the question. Without high country grazing leases, most cattle growers go out of business.
To help accomplish the buffer ecosystem clarity, and also to their credit, to clean up a few industries that needed some prodding, we have the Clean Air and Water Acts. Unfortunately, as per the "circle," the interpretation and extrapolation of this idea has gone to extremes. Radical protectionists use these concepts to run industries out of business, shut down snowmobiling, advocate the elimination of aftermarket modifications to four wheel drives, etc.
One of the things we can do to counteract this circle is to be involved in government. However, some folks believe that even the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was a green effort with an underlying strategy to make the bureaucracy too cumbersome for most of us so that only paid staff green groups would really affect the outcome of the public input process. And I personally have had some political officials tell me that sometimes the public input process is a waiting game. In other words, wait for the opposition to wear out and quit showing up to meetings. Then do what you want.
Our solution to breaking the vicious green circle is two fold: 1) be involved in the management of your public lands at whatever level you can (and yes, this means joining and supporting organized recreation groups/clubs); and 2) be informed and inform others. Find out for yourself what is the truth and what you believe. Let your elected officials know your opinion (and demands). Never lose sight of the fact that public lands are YOURS.