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The Closing of National Forests is a Battle We Must Fight

Mar 13, 2014 — by: Dennis Linthicum
Categories: Culture, Regulations, Natural Resources

When so-called public servants suggest the increase of Federal land management, it’s usually sold to us as a great resource for our communities. We’re told that we’ll get wide open spaces to hunt, fish, hike, access with OHVs and use for countless other pursuits.

Unfortunately, all too often, once the government gets control of our land, it becomes closed to one or more of these activities. They close forest roads under the guise of “environmental protection”, ignoring the fact that keeping these roads clear aids firefighters in the summer fire season. The bureaucrats insist that they know better than we do how to enjoy our wild places, and so they padlock the woods and force us out of land that should rightfully belong to the local community.

More and more forests in Oregon are being closed to OHV traffic, and our current Congressman seems content with making empty statements and meaningless votes. For those of us who love our open places, this is a serious issue, one that is worth fighting for. We will not be content with empty rhetoric – if we aren’t willing to stand up, our kids will never know the freedom of Oregon’s mountains and forests.

As John George of Forest Access for All recently stated in a petition letter: “Further restrictions to open access of our public lands is not acceptable to the general population of Eastern Oregon and is not an acceptable form of land management for our public lands. OHV access has been a primary means of accessing our public lands for the last 100 plus years and is tied directly to the traditions and cultures of our communities…

…Further restrictions in OHV access through a closed forest ‘no cross country travel’ policy severally limits handicapped and elderly citizens’ ability to access currently accessible lands and disallows them from attaining goods and services they have historically utilized for generations. Open OHV access is key to our mining, livestock, timber and sustenance use of these mountains, any further restriction of this access mode puts our already tenuous existence on a continued downward trend. Simple loop trails are acceptable for some user groups and we support the recognition and development of those opportunities for groups, but those systems do not fully meet out the needs of all OHV users on public lands, and should not be looked at as a mitigation opportunity or strategy to address other OHV user concerns.”

The arrogance and shocking lack of concern toward the lifestyles of rural Oregonians is unjust and immoral. Our local economies suffer from these restrictions and our local governments lose tax revenue when our forests are given over the Federal government and padlocked. Our culture is in jeopardy and our freedoms are being constricted every day. I’m proud to stand with the hunters, OHV users, trappers, fishermen and outdoorsmen who are saying that enough is enough. Let’s take back our lands and manage them with integrity, consistency and the Constitution in mind.