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Recreations Ask Pombo For Local Hearings on Wilderness

OAKLEY, CA (January 11, 2005) - Representative Mike Thompson (D-Napa) recently introduced the Northern California Wilderness Act (H.R. 234). This legislation, if enacted, would greatly impact dispersed recreational opportunities for off-roaders, mountain bikers, and other outdoorsmen.

Historic and legal access roads and trails used by dispersed recreationists would be closed such as a major segment of the Smith-Etter Road in the King Range Wilderness proposal. Also, mountain-bike use on trails in the Cache Creek Wilderness and in other areas would be banned.

Don Amador, western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, said, "If hearings are going to be held, the Coalition believes that local interests should be heard. Last year, I testified against a similar proposal (S.738) before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on a panel that was stacked with Wilderness advocates. Out of a grand total of six witnesses, I was the only non-government person testifying against this legislation."

"Organizations supporting bills such as the Thompson proposal are often linked to national preservation groups that have multi-million dollar budgets to promote a Wilderness or anti-access agenda. I think Congress should hear from the local small business owner or construction worker who would be affected by Thompson's plan," Amador, a Humboldt County native, said.

"Chairman (Congressman Richard) Pombo (R-Tracy) has a history of holding local hearings in places such as Yosemite on travel issues, Lake Arrowhead on forest fires, Jackson on the Sierra Nevada Framework and Fontana on the Endangered Species Act. These hearings heard from all viewpoints and attracted Congressmen from both political parties," Amador continued.

"A local hearing is the only way that affected interests can be heard," Amador concludes.

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