Fade Away, Bill

Here is Keep Sespe Wild’s testimony for a House Subcommittee hearing, scheduled for Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Washington D.C. on Rep. Elton Gallegly’s H.R. 4109, his controversial bill to preserve more wilderness and rivers, with give-aways to off-roaders, and changes to fire and wilderness management language.

There is live streaming audio of the hearing, starting at 7 a.m., our time. Don’t expect any conservationists on the panel of witnesses for this Republican-chaired subcommittee.

Coincidentally, this is 20 years to the week from The Condor Range and Rivers Act being signed into law that created the current Sespe, Matilija, and Chumash Wilderness areas, and the Wild and Scenic Sespe and Sisquoc.

Gallegly’s bill is opposed by all local organizations that work on wilderness – the Sierra Club, Los Padres ForestWatch, and Keep Sespe Wild.

With no Senate sponsor, the bill will fade away with Rep. Gallegly’s retirement.

By the way, I read your paper weekly and thoroughly, from Farmer & Cook in Ojai.

Testimony to the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands on House Resolution 4109, the Los Padres Conservation and Recreation Act of 2012:

Chairman Rob Bishop and members of the Subcommittee, Keep Sespe Wild is a non-profit, volunteer conservation organization based on the watershed of Sespe Creek, Ventura County, California. Two decades ago we sent a representative to Washington D.C. to testify in support of the Condor Range and Rivers Act, which designated the first Wilderness and Wild River segments in Ventura County’s Los Padres National Forest. Congressman Gallegly was a co-sponsor of that legislation, which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush 20 years ago last week.

Congressman Gallegly is to be congratulated for his interest in extending the current Wilderness areas in his District by 63,576 acres, much of which is adjacent to the existing Sespe Wilderness, and for his interest in designating 88.9 miles of new Wild and Scenic River segments, including 11.5 miles of the headwaters of Sespe Creek.

However, other provisions of H.R. 4109 prevent our support of the bill. These include the bill’s fire-suppression language, and the revision of wilderness-management laws that have been in effect for decades, including their application to the existing Dick Smith, Sespe, and Matilija Wilderness areas.

We also oppose the opening of six backcountry roads to public use, and the construction of four new off-highway routes. The Piru Landswap has been a piece of stand-alone legislation for over a decade now, and has serious ramifications for the protection and restoration of the endangered steelhead trout along Piru Creek. We have spoken out against this provision of H.R. 4109 for over ten years now.

We appreciate this opportunity to provide comments.

Alasdair Coyne is conservation director of the Keep Sespe Wild Committee. He also testified 20 years ago on behalf of the Condor Range and Rivers Act.

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