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Bill Brings Back Free Access to Public Lands
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 07 December 2007

The proverbial fat-lady is standing on the stage, her lungs are filled, her mouth is open and ...
...  I will, if necessary, wait a little longer before sharing what I expect to be the best news I've shared in a very long while.  I wanted, however, to give you this preliminary heads up.

Here is a link to the first,  and still only semi-official,  announcement that Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) are poised to introduce legislation to repeal the unpopular and damaging Recreation Access Tax

When the official announcement is made (perhaps as early as this afternoon or Monday), I will invite you to join me in celebrating this wonderful victory and encourage you to work with Wild Wilderness, Western Slope No-Fee Coalition and other organizations in supporting passage of this landmark legislation.


Last Updated ( Friday, 07 December 2007 )
USFS Proposes Public Lands Give-Away
Written by Guest - River Runners for Wilderness   
Thursday, 06 December 2007

The United States Forest Service (USFS) has proposed massive countrywide rulemaking changes to benefit outfitter and guiding access to all USFS lands. Your favorite campsite, hunting blind, fishing hole or boat ramp, and your access to it, are at risk!
Our longtime readers know that we at River Runners for Wilderness have followed and mounted opposition to various attempts to pass an Outfitters Policy Act that grants rights and privileges to public lands outfitters over the self-guided public.
Past long-term efforts by the outfittersí lobby have failed, due in part to your vigilance. This most recent attempt is more sinister. The outfitters and guides have joined forces with non-profit groups that lead guided outdoor trips, and are now attempting to re-write the rules that govern the policies of the US Forest Service to win special access privileges.
Once again, you can counter these efforts through your comments, due no later than January 17, 2008. Now is the time to stand up and protect your right to use Forest Service lands equally with outfitters and their clients.
If you do nothing, these sweeping changes will impact all do-it-yourself (self-guided) recreationists, including hunters, fishermen, off-road enthusiasts, hikers, backpackers, canoeists, jet-boaters, paddlers, mountain-bikers and river runners. Once the rights to your favorite picnic area, boat ramp, or wilderness trailhead are sold, the change is permanent; the self-guided public enthusiast loses, and also loses the right to comment in the future.
The proposed rulemaking changes include but are not limited to: 

* Outfitters and guides would be able to pay a small fee for sole and exclusive access to prime camping, hunting, fishing and picnic areas, including boat launch ramps.
* Outfitters, guides and non-profit organizations would be awarded an allocation of public use for ten-year periods. Commonly referred to as a ďtaking,Ē of public land the rule would give preferred access to the outfitters at the expense of the do-it-yourself public on all Forest Service-managed lands.
* This rulemaking would force allocating access in management areas where access is presently allocation-free, as it now is at Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Deschutes River.
* Outfitters, Guides and non-profits become ďPriority UsersĒ. The public, who does not use outfitters, guides or non-profits for access would no longer have ďpriority use.Ē
* The general public would no longer be able to comment on USFS giving away blocks of access to Forest Service land. Outfitting and guiding in designated wilderness would not require public comment and review through an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement. Additionally, there is no provision to prevent outfitting services from selling their preferred access rights to their successor companies.
* The new proposed rules do not protect wilderness areas from commercialization.

 To see the document in its entirety click here:
Comments on this proposed rulemaking will be accepted until January 17, 2008.
Do you care about your and your childrenís access to Federal Land? Or their childrenís access?
If so, please take the time to comment on this one, and urge your friends, no matter what outdoor activities they enjoy, to comment too.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 06 December 2007 )
Enviros and Dems Responsible for Public Land Privatization
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 05 December 2007

On June 10, 2006 I shared, yet again, warnings and misgiving about a piece of  legislation called the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA). I wrote:

[The appended editorial .. basically suggests that we cash out all of America's public lands. It might not say that in as many words, but it says that nevertheless. It also points to SNPLMA as the model for this sell-off.

I'd just like to remind folks that while a few of us have continually spoken in opposition to that model .... many environmental/ conservation groups ACTIVELY supported it.

This week, the New York Times published on this topic a lengthy article titled "Public Lands: Nevada Learns to Cash In on Sales of Federal Land". A much condensed version appears below along with a link to the original.

Last June 10 I asked my readers, "What is it about slippery slopes and wet paint...???"

Today I repeat myself and make my questions clearer and more pointed. Why must the conservation community blunder onto every slippery slope presented to it? Why does it feel compelled to rub its hands into things  grassroots activists have painstakingly identified and labeled as 'wet paint'??  Why has the big-green conservation community permitted itself to become so damned destructive to the environment and to become such a reliable facilitator of the commercialization and privatization of America's shared, public, commons???

Oh, one last point -- Enviros and Democrats are NOT the only ones responsible for this fiasco. The wise-use, anti-environmental, American Recreation Coalition has consistently been a strong supporter of SNPLMA and is encouraging Richard Pombo,  Harry Reid and their other friends in Congress to EXPAND the SNPLMA model. From the get-go, the ARC supported SNPLMA as a mechanism for funding the expansion of their preferred forms of commercialized, privatized and motorized recreation. No one has any right to be surprised at the way things have turned out.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 December 2007 )
National Park Compromise - or - Compromised National Parks
Written by Scott Silver   
Saturday, 01 December 2007

When the pro-motorized, pro-development,  American Recreation Coalition joins forces with the Outdoor Industry Association, the Wilderness Society, the National Parks and Conservation Association, the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and others to hash out compromise legislation for our National Parks, strange things can happen.
With respect to the management of America's National Parks, there are few points of intersection between the interests of the American Recreation Coalition and the interests of organizations representing pro-environmental positions. The ARC is this nation's most vigorous advocate for commercializing, privatizing and motorizing our National Parks. President Bush's National Park Centennial Initiative has been crafted so as to advance the recreation industry's agenda.

Fortunately for the parks, there is a competing Centennial Initiative. It has been introduced by Representatives Rahall and Grijalva and unlike the President's proposal, theirs is a genuine effort to protect and enhance the National Parks for the benefit of the people of this nation.

There are few points of intersection between the President's Initiative and the one written by Rahall and Grijalva. One initiative is good, the other is bad.  One should be supported by friends of parks, the other should be denounced, fought and killed. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening.

Name-brand conservationists are working with the enemies of parks. They are not advocating for the passage to the GOOD legislative proposal which has been written and introduced.  They are writing compromises.

Read on to learn about the tentative deal hashed out between the American Recreation Coalition and representatives of the conservation community.

Read on to learn about a proposal that would fund the National Park Centennial Initiative using receipts generated from SALVAGE TIMBER SALES.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 01 December 2007 )
Should Yosemite be about people or profit?
Written by Guest: Bridget McGinniss Kerr   
Saturday, 01 December 2007

The campaign to raise fear of being locked out of Yosemite by our National Park Service is slickly backed by private funds and political might. This spin befuddles Americans enough to make what's truly at stake in Yosemite frustrating and nearly incomprehensible.

Despite having lost two federal court battles on visitor capacity issues, the park has brought its refusal to comply with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in Yosemite before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- at taxpayer expense.

It is not easy to sort through the controversial plans and misinformation of a government agency that does not follow its mission or the laws designed to protect public places.

But the main issue being debated in court could be distilled down to one question: How many people can be along the Merced River in Yosemite Valley at the same time?

National parks are the American commons. Yosemite's natural beauty has something to offer everyone, no matter their philosophical bent, personality type or income level. And our society is in trouble if we cannot preserve the Incomparable Valley.

Apparently, our government feels it does not have to follow the protections of the rivers act -- at least when it comes to managing capacity in Yosemite Valley.


Park Partners or Park Takeover Artists?
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
National Park Hospitality Association is the lobby group. It exists to promote the commercialization, privatization and motorization of America's National Parks while maximizing profits for both the concessionaires who run the parks and for related tourism interests that draw upon park visitors.
NPHA has long been on my radar screen, though it's been a while since I visited the National Park Hospitality Association website. I did so this morning and was surprised that their old URL www.nphassn.org rolls over to a different internet address.  Turns out they've updated not only their website, they're now using a new name, that being -- "Park Partners" http://parkpartners.org/
What has not changed is the fact that Park Partners, aka NPHA,  is still operated out of the office suite of the American Recreation Coalition  located on New York Avenue just a few short blocks from the Whitehouse.  Visit the Park Partners website and you'll see a New York Avenue address and phone number on the bottom of each page. What you see are ARC's mailing address and ARC's phone number. Click on Park Partners' News Releases and you'll discover that they are written on ARC stationary.
Park Partners, aka the NPHA / ARC, represents the enemies of public lands and parks. Park Partners is one of five or six wise-use and/or anti-park organizations operating out of the ARC's New York Avenue office.
I hope I am not alone in thinking it Orwellian that this particular lobby group should adopt the name "Park Partners." I hope others will agree that the National Park Service has gone completely overboard with respect to the issue of "partnerships."  Presumably Park Service leaders believe that the corporations represented by 'Park Partners' are indeed Partners of the National Park Service. I question that belief and think to the future and ask --- What will "Park Partners" call themselves when they next update their website and give themselves another new name?



Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 November 2007 )
Privatization and Commercialization of a Seattle Park
Written by Scott Silver   
Sunday, 18 November 2007
The privatization and commercialization of public parks has produced a several icons. Bryant Park in New York City, The Presidio in San Francisco, The Valles Caldera in New Mexico and the efforts now underway at the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook New Jersey, are examples which spring to mind.
But the privatization and commercialization of public space involves more than these icons and extends beyond recreation and tourism development. It is part of an agenda which reaches deeply, extending to the level of community parks and beyond. Most importantly, the Corporate Takeover of Nature about which I have long warned, neither begins nor ends with the takeover nature, parks or those places which have traditionally been free of corporate influence. 
Then again, maybe it does.  Maybe that is exactly where it ends. Perhaps when the Corporate Takeover of Nature can no longer be prevented it will simply be too late to prevent the rest of the dominoes from falling.
Appended is an article about the attempted takeover of Seattle's Magnuson Park for the purposes of recreation development and private gain.  Read it to see how closely this example parallels the iconic examples I have previously reported upon. Read it and see whether you can observe a pattern connecting the Corporate Takeover of Nature with the Corporate Takeover of EVERYTHING.
To learn more, www.saveourpark.org.
The Future of the BLM
Written by Scott Silver   
Sunday, 18 November 2007

Pasted below is the American Recreation Coalition's own description of their recent meeting with the new Director of the BLM, Jim Caswell and here is what may be the most interesting passage from that report:

[When it was pointed out that partnerships with user groups and state governments were not consistently in place for such programs as OHV management and trails, Mr. Caswell agreed that there was potential in leveraging powerful resources through partnerships with states, counties, recreation businesses and enthusiasts and it should be a priority of the BLM.]

OR perhaps, this is the most interesting passage: 

[He also told the group that he believes the key to multiple-use success is a partnership between private and public lands.]

And, as always, the list of sponsoring organizations which appears at the end of this message is extremely interesting. They are, after all, the the organizations which are most heavily influencing recreation policy in America today. These are "the partners".


Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Endangered Species Offsets
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 16 November 2007

Just days after George W. Bush took the oath of President, Lynn Scarlett (President of the Libertarian "Reason Foundation" think-tank) had this to say on the nomination of Gale Norton to the post of Secretary of Interior:     

 "There are two world views on improving the environment ó the old, and the new. The old vision is top-down, regulatory, punishment-driven. The new vision is bottom-up, technological, market-driven. New Environmentalism ó of the kind practiced by President Bush's Interior nominee Gale Norton ó makes the forces of green punishment and prescription uncomfortable."
-Lynn Scarlett on the "New Environmentalism" (U.S. Newswire, January 24, 2001)

Norton is long gone and disgraced but Norton's Deputy Secretary, Lynn Scarlett, remains. Today Scarlett is perhaps the most powerful person in America when it comes to dictating public-lands policy.

I am no fan of market-driven New Environmentalism though a growing number of my peers within the conservation community are embracing this ideology. I suspect many of them will support Lynn Scarlett's latest proposal, that of Endangered Species Offsets.  It was described last month by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as:

"...an innovative new program designed to help federal agencies conserve imperiled species on non-federal lands. The recovery crediting system gives federal agencies flexibility to offset the impact of their actions on threatened and endangered species found on federal lands by undertaking conservation actions on non-federal lands, as long as the affected species receive a net conservation benefit."

Appended is an Environmental News Service article describing the latest, proposed, addition to the growing stable of "New Environmental" innovations. Public Comments are being taken and additional details can be read in the Federal Register Notice, available at at this link.


Last Updated ( Friday, 16 November 2007 )
Fees in the Crosshairs
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 14 November 2007

"Kids in the Woods" is a phrase upon the tongue of every huckster intent upon boosting the sagging profitability of that segment of the tourism / recreation industry dependent upon people traveling to, and consuming recreation within, "The Great Outdoors"ô. It's an important concept, hijacked by those pushing a particular agenda and now gone bad as a consequence of how it is being abused.

Kids, I might add,  are not the only demographic no longer visiting and enjoying their public lands.

Much has recently been made of the large decrease in the number of hunters and, as a result,  a great deal of energy and resources is being used to lure hunters back to the forest (and to the sporting goods shops, motels, and gas stations they are no longer patronizing).

Pasted below is an article from the Detroit press titled "Hunting fees in the crosshairs. " Here is a quote I thought most revealing:

"If you discourage people of my age and we don't go out, who's going to introduce it to the younger generation?" said Seefelt, who will be hunting in the Lewiston area this week. "And if no one introduces it to them, who's going to introduce it to their children?"

Unlike those who are using  "Kids in the Woods" to  promote the "Corporate Takeover of Nature and the Disneyfication of the Wild",  Mr. Seefelt is stating a simple fact.

Land managers and those in the commercial sector who have long promoted "pay-to-play" paradigm create fictions to explain declining participation in public lands recreation. Those fictions are designed to a paradigm shift in how, and at what cost, outdoor recreation will be provided in the future.

"Kids in the Woods" is one such fiction. The article which follows offers a more simple, and straight forward, truth.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 November 2007 )
My stance is simple
Written by Guest - Brian DeNeal   
Friday, 09 November 2007

Take only photographs, leave only footprints and $5

Iím having a hard time getting past my initial knee-jerk reaction to this proposal to charge me to visit the Garden of the Gods, Bell Smith Springs and Pounds Hollow.

My first reaction was ďIím against that!Ē And Iím still against it. But why? This is money going to maintenance, renovation and improvement of our special places. Isnít that worth a measly $5? I donít care. Iím still against it.

Iím not going to pay $5 to sit and watch people climb on the rocks at Garden of the Gods and Iím not going to pay to take a summer dip in Bell Smith Springs, either. Iím sure not going to pay to take a photo of Pounds Hollow Lake and leave, which is all Iíve ever done there.

I could wax on about how my tax dollars already pay for the forest and about the benefits of a place like Garden of the Gods on the souls of young people and about how this land is my land your land and I have a right to go visit it without paying extra.

I could take the argument that if the forest canít afford to maintain trails or remove the trash, it should just wash its hands of the matter and let everything go back to nature because nature doesnít care if there is a bathroom or not.

I could make the slippery-slope argument that we are going to be charged more money for more natural places and will come to see nature as a commodity like food at a restaurant that we can reject when we should be thinking of nature as our home.

And somebody could probably make the argument that this is nature for sale to whomever wants to do whatever and ó if they are willing to pay the fee ó hang gliding may one day be permitted at Garden of the Gods, regardless of risk of injury and manpower spent on retrieving gliders from the tree tops.

But I donít feel like arguing.

My stance is simple: I shouldnít have to pay because Iíve never had to pay before. Besides, my being at Garden of the Gods doesnít cost the Forest Service a penny. I donít litter, donít tear up the trail, usually donít even use of the water tank or set foot in the vault toilet. Iíve never camped at the campground, never used the trashcan and only sat at a picnic table one time. My $5 fee is to help out with upkeep of amenities that I donít need.

Granted, if I fall or get lost the Forest Service may feel obliged to devote a little manpower to help me, but, if so, I hereby release them from that obligation.

I wonít fall because I donít get that close to the edge.

I have been lost ó numerous times ó and in two of those times a search party assembled to come rescue me, couldnít find me, went home and I made it out on my own.

But from now on if I donít get back when I said I would, donít anybody sweat it, just know that Iím lost and Iíll get back when I find the way.

Thanks, anyway, but I donít need your help.

So Forest Service, I donít use your amenities, am not messing anything up and you donít even have to come rescue me if I get in trouble, so may I please go to Garden of the Gods and keep my 5 bucks?

If there is one benefit of the fee it must be that it will keep out those people only looking to make out, drink whiskey, smoke dope and yell. To each his or her own, but these loud, wobbly types ruin any Garden of the Gods trip I take, not because Iím a prude, but because I pay more attention to them than I do the scenery. I expect they will fall, get hurt and Iíll have to go do something about it. Itís distracting.

The fee should keep some of the summer beer-can litter out of Bell Smith Springs, but it could actually bring more with the I-paid-my-five-bucks-so-you-pick-up-my-trash nature-as-commodity mentality.

Maybe Iím out of touch, but a few law enforcement patrols of these areas or a few tickets and court fines left on vehicles after the parks close would probably nip the problem in the bud.

I would imagine one patrol of the Garden of the Gods parking lot on a summer night, an hour after dusk, especially if there is a full moon, would generate enough court fines to cover all the $5 day use fees for that day. Maybe the Forest Service does this, but Iíve been up there after dark and I never got in trouble.

The aspiring law enforcement agent could probably net a few more arrests if he goes out on the bluffs with a flashlight. Did you know it is now illegal to be nude in the forest? The order was signed Nov. 10, 2004.

Unfortunately, the effect of a decision to charge user fees will be that poor folks like wonít go there, anymore.

Five dollars is a lunch, a few miles worth of gasoline, a bottle of wine.

If I want to go hiking there are plenty of other places to go.

I used to go to Crab Orchard National Wildlife refuge several times a year to drive around, look at birds and other wildlife.

I havenít been back since that park started charging a fee ó and donít see any reason to go again. There are plenty of places to see those things for free.

The horse riders have their own complaints about the fees and have their organizations to voice them. I have my own user group to represent here; the poí white trash user group too broke or too cheap to pay $5 a trip or a $50 annual fee to go see these places. Unfortunately, these are some of the places that make our area unique enough to call home.

If the Forest Service decides to implement the fees, it could begin as early as April 2008. The agency is accepting comments until April 15, 2008.

Brian DeNeal is a staff writer for The Daily Register and The Daily Journal. 
Shocking Doctines
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 09 November 2007
There have been countless reviews published of Naomi Klein's new book "The Shock Doctrine". Pasted below is one that is both unusual and, in my opinion, worth reading.
Those who know me and my work might expect that a short passage, such as the one quoted immediately below, would inspire me to share the appended book review:
The endgame of disaster capitalism is the total privatization of what have throughout American history been state services. Not surprisingly, the ultimate outcome of unbridled disaster capitalism will be the supplanting of government by corporations.
Those who thought that, would be wrong.  That statement has now become am irrefutable statement of fact. It is the gameplan which I, in 1997, dubbed "The Corporate Takeover of Nature."
There are other points made in this book review and it is for them that I am sharing it now. Quoted here is one of those passages that particularly attracted my attention...
But what it seems that Klein hasn't quite grasped is that disaster capitalism is the mechanism for achieving the consummate agenda of organizations such as the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission, namely the dissolution of nation states which will ultimately be replaced by global corporatocracy. For most progressive intellectuals, the mere mention of these organizations suggests "conspiracy theory" since progressives tend to minimize their role in international and domestic affairs. Moreover, a number of left-liberal poster children are members of one or more of the ruling elite groups mentioned above-an inconvenient truth, so to speak, for true believers tethered to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in search of salvation from all that they perceive as evil.
Much more within this review captured my attention. I am by no means in agreement with everything this author suggests and I'll leave it to you to decide the value of the review which follows.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to
entertain a thought without accepting it.
I will just add that with respect to today's public lands recreation management doctrine, the Shock Doctrine applies fully and absolutely.


Last Updated ( Friday, 09 November 2007 )
Harry Reid - Gutless Weasel
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 07 November 2007

It was Wild Wilderness that drew the media's attention to the efforts of the American Recreation Coalition to influence Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and to lobby him to expedite the confirmation of their long-time friend and reliable proponent of industrial wreckreation, Lyle Laverty, to the number three spot within the Department of Interior.

The blogosphere is abuzz with this story and the Daily Kos has gone so far as to publish a piece which has now drawn 180 comments. The piece is titled "Should Harry Reid be deposed as Majority Leader?" More than 90% of readers have voting against Reid. To get a sense of the anger being expressed, read the comments.

Or, more easily, read the appended Editorial which appeared in today's Willamette Weekly. It is titled "Harry Reid - Gutless Weasel".

I'd just add that Reid is suffering a well deserved fate. Stabbing fellow Democrat Wyden in the back and sucking up to the wise-use American Recreation Coalition was definitely the wrong move. Allowing Laverty's confirmation to occur was a complete disaster and for this, and the damage Laverty will do within the DOI,  Harry Reid will forever be accountable.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 November 2007 )
USFS as Anorexic
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 06 November 2007

Last week a reporter contacted me for an article he was writing. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimball had just announced she planned to cut recreation and other programs by $300 million and to transfer that money into fire suppression. The reporter asked for a comment and in addition to what is quoted in the appended article, I explained how this budget transfer was a "twofer."  That line of reasoning didn't get into the article and so I share it here.

Not only is Kimball moving money into a bottomless pit from which private contractors will eventually receive the lion's share: in further staving the recreation programs, Kimball could ensure that local land managers would have no option other that to rely even more heavily upon increased and more wide-spread recreation user-fees, volunteerism, partnership and, of course, more commercialization.

With respect to the Forest Service, Congress is not primarily, or uniquely, responsible for using the Reaganesque "Stave the Beast" mechanism to destroy that agency's recreation program. It is the Forest Service itself, thought a variety of mechanisms, that is gutting its own recreation program.

Top brass within the Forest Service are minimizing the amount of allocated dollars that get to the ground. The more conspicuously the Forest Service does this, the more "inefficient" they are seen to be and the more impetus there becomes for cutting the agency's budget.

Sadly, the current administration values those employees who exhibit special competence in destroying their own agencies and showing to all the world, that government does not work and should, therefor, be privatized.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 November 2007 )
ARC gets its man - Laverty
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The underhanded nature of Lyle Laverty's confirmation has me fuming. Laverty was installed as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks even though Senator Wyden's "HOLD" remained in place. This confirmation should never have happened.

The wise-use lobby know as the American Recreation Coalition collaborated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get their man confirmed. They deserve to share the blame for all of the harm Laverty will do in his new position.

As I've warned for many months, Laverty is ARC's dream appointee. His forte is commercialization, privatization and the over-development of parks.

Some may find it of interest that although the media has yet to pick up the story, ARC's President, Derrick Crandall was quick to post his congratulations on ARC's website. His statement is appended.

In recent months I've identified as the two biggest potential threats to the National Park Service 1) Lyle Laverty's confirmation and 2) President Bush's National Park Centennial Initiative.

The first has just happened. The second can, perhaps, still be prevented.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 October 2007 )
Laverty Confirmed in Shameful Senate Move
Written by Scott Silver   
Tuesday, 30 October 2007

For many months Wild Wilderness has stood virtually alone in opposing the confirmation as President Bush's nominee for the exceedingly powerful position of Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

The only thing that stood in Laverty's way was a legislative "hold" placed upon Laverty's confirmation by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. Wyden, to his credit, was hanging tough in spite of the intense pressure to confirm being appplied by the motorized recreation community, the tourism industry and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
Senator Wyden hung tough but two days ago his wife gave birth to twins and while attending to his wife and new-born children, the Senate pushed through Laverty's confirmation. Without Wyden being physically on hand to maintain his "hold", Harry Reid rammed through Lavery's confirmation --- or so my sources have said.
I will just add that I now expect Lyle Laverty to, with the help of his friends in the wreckreation industry, do everything within his power to promote further commercialization, privatization and motorization of America's National Parks, Wildlife Refuges and other DOI-managed public lands.
Pasted below is the Department of Interior News Release announcing Laverty's confirmation.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 October 2007 )
A Fee For Everything but breathing
Written by Scott Silver   
Friday, 26 October 2007

In 1896, Illinois State Attorney General, Robert G. Ingersoll (a Republican) said:

"Don't you know that if people could bottle the air, they would? ... there would be an American Air-Bottling Association. ... they would let millions die for want of breath, if they could not pay for the air."

A century and a bit later, the American Air-Bottling Association has not, yet, become a reality but today there truly are fees for everything and today fees have become the Republican party's preferred method of taxation. Today, bottled water is common and water privatization has become a global issue. Today air can be bottled, but the potential air-bottlers have not yet figured out how to deny the public access to free atmospheric air. Today a walk in a National Forest is no longer free because people have figured out how to deny access to formerly-free public lands.

Pasted below is a "Special Report" from New York Daily news titled "City, state hike fees for everything but breathing." In just a few words it drives home the point that today there are, indeed, fees for everything but breathing. I'd just add that when it becomes possible to deny the public access to clean, fresh air, those who have the ability to charge for air will, without hesitation, let those without the money to pay for air die. That is the way of the market.


Fee Finale
Written by Guest: Dick Artley   
Wednesday, 24 October 2007

One wonders when the day will come when the American public grows tired of playing dog and cat with their grandchildren's birthright.   

 Important info from the following article: 

1) The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) of 2004 (passed by congress) authorizes fees to be charged by the Forest Service and other agencies.
 2) Specifically, FLREA says that fees can no longer be charged "solely for parking, undesignated parking, or picnicking along roads or trailsides."
 3) But to get around that little hurdle, the Forest Service simply created its own fee policy for what it calls "special high-impact areas" ... a designation with no basis in law.
 4) "The issue is not a $5 fee.  The issue is whether agencies are obligated to follow the law." 

 These truths brought to you by Dick Artley (US Forest Service, Retired)

User Fees and Corporate Toadies
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 18 October 2007

Over the past several decades a growing number of formerly kick-ass activists have transformed themselves into corporate toadies. Some do it for the money, others for love. The really successful ones do it for both.

The appended Op-Ed by Randal O'Toole recently appears in the Christian Science Monitor and is titled "Government plans don't work". It is a wide-ranging screed against government, government planning and governmental regulation. It is a call for running government as if it was a market-oriented business.

Randal has moved up in the world and left his grassroots background behind. Today he is a successful mouthpiece of the extreme right. And yet one thing about the man never changes. That is his love for user-fees and, especially for recreation user-fees charged by the US Forest Service.

Have a look at the basket of ideology Randal presents. Would you accept the basket as presented? Would you accept any part of it? So why do such a significant number of conservation groups still accept the part of the agenda nearest and dearest to Randal's heart????


Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 October 2007 )
Private Philanthropy Privatization
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 17 October 2007

With so much talk of the obvious benefits of private philanthropy, it is rare to see anyone thinking beyond the obvious. Appended is an editorial titled "Privatization of University raises worries." It concludes with these words:

 University President Dave Frohnmayer called Lokey's contribution "an extraordinary act of philanthropy that will transform the University." This is a true statement. But so is this: A transformed University won't do much good if students can't afford to enroll here. ]

I read this article and thought of the privatization of the National Park System and how the President's private philanthropy "solution" and his Centennial Initiative are creating much the same privatization threat as described below.

It is so very hard to look gift horses in the mouth ... and yet it is so very important to do so.



Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 October 2007 )
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