Analysis: Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act Guts the Wilderness Act

Here’s a press release from Wilderness Watch, which includes a detailed analysis of the so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2017” – mk

MISSOULA, MT – A new analysis by Wilderness Watch calls the discussion draft of the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act of 2017” nothing more than a thinly disguised measure to gut the 1964 Wilderness Act and the protections afforded to every unit of America’s 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

The analysis corresponds with a leaked memo McClatchy obtained and reported on last week that found the Trump Administration has so far prevented the National Park Service from voicing its serious concerns over the National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed SHARE Act. When the Park Service shared such concerns in a memo to the Department of Interior (DOI), the DOI responded by crossing out the Park Service’s comments, and the agency was told not to go to Congress.

The SHARE Act would give hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and state fish and wildlife agency goals top priority in Wilderness, rather than protecting the areas’ wilderness character, as has been the case for over 50 years.

The SHARE Act would allow endless, extensive habitat manipulations in Wilderness under the guise of “wildlife conservation” and for providing hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting experiences. The Act would also allow the construction of “temporary” roads in protected Wilderness areas to facilitate such uses and would allow the construction of dams, buildings, or other structures within Wildernesses.

“Taken in combination, the provisions in the SHARE Act would completely undermine the protections that wilderness designation should provide, and dramatically weaken wilderness conservation for the entire 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. These wilderness provisions in the SHARE Act must not be enacted into law,” explained Kevin Proescholdt, Conservation Director for Wilderness Watch.

The discussion draft of the SHARE Act was scheduled for a legislative hearing on June 14, 2017, but was canceled due to a shooting before the Congressional softball game.

The SHARE Act would also exempt road, dam, and building projects within protected Wilderness areas from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) — eliminating critical environmental analysis of potential impacts and alternatives, and public comment and involvement.

“Sadly, the SHARE Act would eviscerate the letter, spirit, and fundamental ideals expressed in the Wilderness Act,” said Wilderness Watch Executive Director George Nickas. “While the Wilderness Act prohibits the use of motorized vehicles or equipment and the building of roads and other structures, the SHARE Act essentially throws Wilderness areas wide open to motorized use by agency managers and a nearly unlimited variety of wilderness-damaging manipulations and developments. Make no mistake— Wilderness as we know it will cease to exist if the SHARE Act becomes law.”

Wilderness Watch is America’s leading organization dedicated to defending and keeping wild the nation’s 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System. Its work is guided by the visionary 1964 Wilderness Act.

51 thoughts on “Analysis: Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act Guts the Wilderness Act”

  1. If the measure really guts the 1964 Wilderness Act in the ways described, then I would not support the bill. However, although I’ve given the draft bill only a cursory look, adherence to the Wilderness Act seems to be built in. For example….

    … the head of each Federal public land management agency
    shall exercise its land management discretion—

    (1) in a manner that supports and facilitates
    recreational fishing, hunting, and shooting opportunities;

    (2) to the extent authorized under applicable State law; and

    (3) in accordance with applicable Federal law.


    …provided that this determination shall not authorize or facilitate commodity development, use, or extraction, motorized recreational access or use that is not otherwise allowed under the Wilderness Act.

    • Hi Steve, perhaps if you get a chance to take more than a cursory look at the discussion draft of the SHARE Act you will have additional thoughts about what the bill really does. Seems to me that Wilderness Watch, which includes various Wilderness Act policy experts and scholars on staff, dug deep into what the discussion draft would do regarding the Wilderness Act and Wilderness areas.

      • Matthew, “shall not authorize or facilitate commodity development, use, or extraction, motorized recreational access or use that is not otherwise allowed under the Wilderness Act” is very clear language.

        What does your non-cursory reading tell you?

        • Hi Steve: Please read the entire bill and read the entire in-depth analysis provided by Wilderness Watch. As I mentioned, that group includes some of the leading Wilderness Act policy experts in the country, so I trust that they know how to analyze a bill dealing with the Wilderness Act.

  2. Matthew, I too skimmed this bill (and saw a lot to like) but saw no reference to harming the Wilderness Act at all.

    You made this post and I assume found passages to support your claim. Where? Which part?

  3. I only got as far as the bottom of page 2 beginning of page 3. It was the first item they actually brought up.
    The Wilderness Whatever’s claim “Moreover, managers could build hunting blinds, cabins, target ranges, airplane landing strips or helicopter landing pads, build fishing ponds, construct dams on rivers or streams, build temporary roads or any structure or installation that could be rationalized as facilitating opport” and so on, and it says no such thing.

    I think they are full of baloney. Why bother reading if they are so obviously making stuff up out of whole cloth, or more to the point why post that kind of claptrap.

    Here’s the pertinent part of the bill.
    “shall constitute measures necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the administration of the wilderness area, provided that this determination shall not authorize or facilitate commodity development, use, or extraction, motorized recreational access or use that is not otherwise allowed
    under the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131 ”

    In other words they have to meet the minimum requirements of the Wilderness Act and they can’t make any use that isn’t allowed under the Wilderness Act.

    You might think these folks are great shakes, I think they just don’t like hunting and so they twist things around so some supposed science writer can lead with the headline. “Roads and Shooting Ranges to be Built in Wilderness”

    I’ll write my senator and suggest modifications to that Access to Justice Part changing the net worth requirements of 501cs to match that of private persons so we don’t have to deal with people like Wilderness Whatever. Thanks for bringing this group to my attention.

    • Howdy Som Sai. You clearly lack an understanding of the Wilderness Act and Wilderness policy and management as it’s been practiced in America during the past 53 years. Wilderness Watch includes some of the leading Wilderness Act and policy experts in the country and they also count the last living architect of the Wilderness Act of 1964 as their senior advisor. But, hey, what would he know? Also, it’s really weird when you say that you think Wilderness Watch just doesn’t like hunting, because I know for a fact that their staff and board include numerous (and very successful) backcountry deer and elk hunters. But whatever.

  4. In reading the Bill and reading the “analysis” it would seem that this is another great example of an environmental group substituting opinions for facts in order to mislead it devote followers……
    It would be interesting to see how the public would respond to actual facts………. I think they are beginning to see the light thru the smoke.

    • Spoken just like an anonymous commenter “Forester 353.” So, please, write your own “analysis” and tell us where the Wilderness Act policy experts at Wilderness Watch are wrong. They work on Wilderness policy issues 24/7. They put together an in-depth analysis of what the bill would do, based on the actual text of the discussion draft and based on what the Wilderness Act says and how Wilderness policy is implemented on-the-ground and how some state wildlife agencies, especially in places like Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Alaska, are constantly looking to undermine the Wilderness Act for various wildlife management schemes.

      I put lots more faith in that than some anonymous dudes just saying they are wrong, but not giving any actual, in-depth analysis as to why.

      • Wilderness Watch wrote in its analysis that the bill “would allow the construction of ‘temporary’ roads to facilitate such uses and would allow the construction of dams, buildings, or other structures within Wildernesses.” And “Under the SHARE Act, managers would be freed of any requirements imposed by the Wilderness Act for any management activity they choose to carry out that is designed in whole or in part to provide recreational opportunities for these visitors.”

        But as I and others have pointed out, the bill states that managers “shall not authorize or facilitate commodity development, use, or extraction, motorized recreational access or use that is not otherwise allowed under the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.), or permanent road construction or maintenance within designated wilderness areas. ”

        The bill does not mention temporary roads, but any road, temporary or permanent, is not allowed under the Wilderness Act.

        In short, Wilderness Watch seems to assume that activities prohibited by the Wilderness Act would take place, but the bill says they can’t. Please tell me why or how I may be wrong about this.

      • Matthew

        So, because Forester 353 is anonymous “it’s” comments are unacceptable while the comments made in other posts by the anonymous dudes and or dames known as 2ndOutLaw are acceptable. Seems like anonymity isn’t the problem.

        • Howdy Gil. Anyone with some time on their hands can look at the many thoughtful and fully cited and documented comments provided on this blog over the years by 2ndLaw…and compare those types of insightful, substantive and in-depth comments to “Forester 353” basically just belching “wrong!” but providing little else.

          • Seems like it depends on whether or not you agree with what they are saying.
            Watching our current forest management can be extremely frustrating.
            I happen to think Forester 353 has contributed viewpoints that show experience in the forests, while 2nd laws contributions seem to be just enviro-babble from the 80’s.
            I think the issue was about Wilderness usage?

          • Matthew

            In this comment I shall attempt to “hit with intimidating acerbic words and run from hard questions” like you do.

            Re your intimidating acerbic words: “the many thoughtful and fully cited and documented comments provided on this blog over the years by 2ndLaw” … “compare those types of insightful, substantive and in-depth comments to “Forester 353” basically just belching “wrong!” but providing little else.”
            –> You either miss or dodge the point. You never chastised 2ndOutLaw for the preponderance of his comments that were erroneous, not cited and undocumented nor the ones which lacked insight, were in-substantive and shallow? You don’t mind belching “wrong!” yourself but heaven forbid if anyone does the same thing in opposition to you. Do your homework, review all of 2ndOutLaws posts and give us a % breakdown of those which were “fully cited and documented”. Don’t forget to include links so that we can validate your analysis. Isn’t this fun when we just run other people down without bothering to provide a basis for our opinions?

            Re your run from the hard question posed by Steve: “In short, Wilderness Watch seems to assume that activities prohibited by the Wilderness Act would take place, but the bill says they can’t. Please tell me why or how I may be wrong about this.”
            –> Seems that you don’t want to convince us by validating “Wilderness Watch” by pointing to the items in the bill that support their opinion. In your response to Steve showing him where the bill can override the wilderness act, please be more specific than George (see below) and provide your link to the bill as well as line and page numbers in the bill documenting each of your points where the bill overrides the wilderness act. Convince all of us and we’ll have made some real progress towards finding common ground.

            P.S. In case you didn’t notice, I have also followed your example of assigning homework for other people to do instead of providing my own proof of my claims. You make a very good teacher but I must admit to being a slow learner. Think of all of the time and words that I have wasted trying to document the science behind forestry to you.

      • Matt First of all my apology for the late response, I’ve had my hands full dealing with a Wilderness issue and it appears we will be dealing with it for several more weeks.
        The reason that there is no in depth analysis of the posted opinion is simple, it’s an opinion. An opinion which you cited as some sort of fact. The proposed Bill/Act is a fact and no where in the bill did it validate the opinion you posted. The problem with analyzing your posted opinion is that as we go down this rabbit hole, somehow this analyzed opinion begins to be treated as a fact and in future discussions it will probably be cited to substantiate some other opinion that you find. There were and have been numerous comments that specifically point out the fallacies that wilderness watch is trying to decree as fact, when in truth there isn’t any proof of their claims. How could there be since this bill hasn’t been passed yet?
        As for the anonymity, I deal with many people and groups from both sides of most these discussions and like you many don’t really have a clue as to the true effects of these policies on the ground. They are quick to throw a character attack rather than deal with facts, interestingly enough in most cases if they don’t know what my “opinion” is before hand we can have a reasonable discussion of facts and make head way, in both directions since I have no problem pointing out faults and solutions for both sides. Unfortunately, over the last decade you and other “educated professional environmentalist” seem to have shown your true calling and it isn’t forest health, which is my goal. So not plastering my name on here or anywhere else has a purpose and if that offends you, I’ll try to feel your pain. ………That pretty much sums up my opinion of things!

  5. As a retired federal wilderness policy expert, let me try to explain.

    First, it depends on which version of the bill you are reading. The problematic language is in the House version (HR 2406, Sec. 603(f)); the Senate version contains no similar language. This has been the case for the past one or two Congresses, each time this bill (or one with a different name but similar text) was introduced in both chambers.

    The language in 603(f) is watered down from previous versions, but still seems to be saying that any action a state game & fish agency wants to undertake, as long as it does not involve the construction of a PERMANENT road or allows the use of motor vehicles by the recreating public, automatically meets the “minimum requirements” demand of the Wilderness Act (Sec. 4(c)). This means any additional installations, use of motor vehicles, construction of TEMPORARY roads, habitat manipulations, population introductions or exterminations — all that would be OK, even though the Wilderness Act declares these areas are to be “untrammeled,” “undeveloped,” and “natural” for “the preservation of their wilderness character,” not to enhance hunting and fishing opportunities. This would encourage state agencies’ tendencies (in the west, anyway) to want to turn wilderness areas into fence-less game farms, and seemingly direct the federal agencies to allow them to do so.

    The idea that adhering to the Wilderness Act is somehow anti-hunting is false. As the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation used to advertise: “Wilderness — a great place to hunt and fish!” And so these places — many of them, anyway — are. The hunter or fisherman (or -woman) just needs to work a little harder than areas outside wilderness that are maximized for wildlife production. I know several elk hunters who prefer to hunt in wilderness because they want to “work” for their elk, rather than having it handed to them.

    I hope this helps the discussion.

    • Thank you very much for your detailed and knowledgable comments here George. The Wilderness Watch analysis was based on the discussion draft of the SHARE Act, and was mentioned and linked to above. There is a S.733 in the Senate, which doesn’t contain most of the anti-Wilderness provisions that are in the discussion draft, and as you point out, were in previous versions of the SHARE Act.

      Here’s that link again:–_share_act.pdf

      The discussion draft of the SHARE Act was scheduled for a (one-sided) hearing in the U.S House back in June, but was cancelled because of the Congressional softball game shooting.

    • The way you explain it, I’m convinced that States should have no ‘vote’ in how Federal Wilderness Areas are ‘managed’. There seems to be multiple loopholes, hidden away, for the States to interpret. I’m also not a fan of Wilderness grazing. If a Wilderness is flammable, consider a prescribed fire, outside of fire season.

      • The issue for States comes up most when the management of resources crosses boundaries, such as introduction of wolves which wonder off federal land or fires which are not managed in wilderness suddenly blow out onto State protected land. These issues have a direct impact on the local State where they’re located, to the tune of millions of dollars.
        I can’t speak to all wilderness grazing but many of the wilderness that do have “impacts” from grazing actually had been grazed since prior to the wilderness designation. The condition they were in at the time of designation were in part a result of mans use, often from before the USFS system existed. At what cost do we strive to be natural and what is natural?
        I use to time a lot of in Sky Lakes, Kalmiopsis and Rogue Umpqua Divide, but as time went on and they have burned, the “natural state” has become less than appealing and I’ve noticed much less activity at trail heads.

  6. The bill’s proposed language — “the conservation of fish and wildlife to provide sustainable use recreational opportunities on designated Federal wilderness areas shall constitute measures necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the administration of the wilderness area” — is designed, among other things, to permit Idaho to land helicopters in wilderness to radio collar wolves and elk. In January, the Forest Service and Idaho were rebuked sharply in federal court for violating the Wilderness Act. The proposed bill would amend the Wilderness Act to allow such currently prohibited activities, e.g., over 1,000 helicopter landings in the Frank Church Wilderness.

    • Andy, this sounds like it makes some sense… what isn’t clear from the WW s screed
      “completely undermine the protections that wilderness designation should provide, and dramatically weaken wilderness conservation for the entire 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.”
      is “who is proposing this, and why?”. I’ve never seen state agencies chomping at the bit to do stuff in wilderness areas and don’t know how often it happens..

      • Sharon, state agencies throughout the west are constantly undertaking manipulations in wilderness, and are tired of even the few, weak objections from federal managers. Radio collars on elk (and killing wolf packs) in the Frank Church is just the highest profile action. AFWA (the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies) has long endorsed the House version of this bill. They used to openly proclaim this on their website, but I haven’t checked it recently. The NRA has started opposing wilderness bills, and they are certainly pushing for other sections of this bill.

      • Wildlife management on federal lands has been a states’ rights rallying cry since the birth of our nation. Insofar as wilderness imposes tighter land use restrictions than found on vanilla-flavored federal land, wilderness has been a lightning rod for state vs. federal wildlife dispute. Idaho wolves & elk are just the latest example. Fish stocking, including commercial fish hatcheries, has been another flash point.

        • Matthew, I tried reading WW’s website but I got a bit stuck. First they said they were about keeping wilderness wild. (fine I agree) but then their very first entry was about National Monuments. They said..

          “These 27 National Monuments are home to 30 federally designated Wilderness areas, which would be harmed if the public lands around them lose protection. National Monuments benefit these 29 Wilderness areas because the public lands surrounding the Wildernesses also have some form of protection, which improves conditions for wildlife and traditional recreation experiences.” Based on this logic, nothing should be done in any area near a wilderness… .because it might impact a wilderness. So that really means they would be for extending wilderness protections to non-wilderness, which kind of means something different than “keeping wilderness wild.”

          It was hard for me to believe anything they said after that…

          • Sorry, Sharon, but your attempted take-down of Wilderness Watch is some pretty weak sauce. It also appears as if you may have difficulty navigating a basic website. Anyone interested can visit Wilderness Watch’s website and spend some time learning more about them:

            Regarding your comment about “their very first entry….” Honestly not sure what that means in reference to a website, but you quoted from a post about Trump’s National Monument ‘review’ that also has potential Wilderness implications. Here’s the post:

            • Sorry, Matthew I went to the link you had in your comment

              The first entry was about national monuments and how if something goes on outside wilderness, it can impact wilderness. Which is true but you could argue that for almost anything anywhere impacting wilderness.

              I wasn’t trying to “take them down” I don’t have a problem with their advocacy. I just don’t want to use them as a source of info for my question “what are states actually doing?” because they are not an objective source of info. They’re an advocacy group and so attempt to paint those that they disagree with with the most inflammatory rhetoric. Why would I trust them to answer my question?

              • Why would we trust you as an objective source of information Sharon?

                For the record, after you claimed “It was hard for me to believe anything [Wilderness Watch] said after that…”

                You now are claiming that what Wilderness Watch said in a blog post about National Monuments and Wilderness “is true but you could argue that for almost anything anywhere impacting wilderness.”

                You also claimed above that you support Wilderness Watch’s goal/mission of keeping Wilderness wild.

                I also think that the world is full of plenty of examples of “the most inflammatory rhetoric”…and that it’s not coming from folks like Wilderness Watch talking about the SHARE Act.

                But whatever really.

                • Mathew this entire post is an example of what I outlined after you followed the typical argument/discussion road map employed by environmentalist/obstructionist. The same one used more and more, not just here but in public meetings and especially in situations where there is a series of meetings. You have introduced an opinion from a group that has members with letters following their name, who also have a shared agenda. This opinion has been countered by facts and other opinions, but you are now referring to your posted opinion as a fact to counter these alternate opinions and also the facts.
                  You and others that use this tactic are putting the environment and specifically the forests at greater risk. Here is my opinion on why, not based on a sighted article, but what is showing in statements, actions such as voting, guest “opinions”, and actual comments at public meetings. Any of us really concerned about forest health should be concerned by the trend that is happening.
                  The general public, you know the ones that vote, are getting tired of numerous things. 1) paying more taxes, even $1, 2) having more restrictions imposed on supposed “public land” 3) being directly effected by the current management or what many consider mismanagement of these public lands, and 4) the loss of private land, including resources and homes, as a result of the management of these lands. Here’s what the public is seeing; The NSO hasn’t made a recovery as promised in the early 90’s. We have burned far more habitat, from RMA’s to old growth forests, in the last quarter century than was logged in the previous 20 years. The USFS has become a liability as a neighbor, instead being a good neighbor as they use to promote. Major population areas are being inundated by heavy smoke for weeks or months at a time each summer. Recreation, that was touted as a replacement to timber income, is not happening as a result of trail closures, road closures, river closures, lack of visibility, etc. as a result of fires. Cycle Oregon which is a huge income generator to local economies in rural Oregon was even cancelled this year, further bringing awareness of the mismanagement. This event pulls in people from across the nation many of whom have little interest in forest management and often have a fairly liberal viewpoint, but I can guarantee their interest has now stepped up a notch or three and they are not happy. At the center of the Oregon fires is 140,000 acres that started in a Wilderness and is the result of a failed policy/procedure.
                  It would seem that an intelligent person would take a look at the big picture and see that the current course isn’t to set aside more land, isn’t in support of current policies and is to reduce government control and reduce the impacts of government management on private lands. An intelligent person would see that its time to consider how we can make things work, instead of refusing to accept that things aren’t working.
                  Since I’m going to assume that you are an intelligent person, ask yourself “what is the real impact of the proposal?”. What about the proposed Bill would you support? Since we are debating opinions, What in your opinion in this Bill is acceptable? In my opinion, if you have no opinion other than status quo “it’s bad because so & so said so”, you are part of the problem and we need solutions to get back forest health.

    • Andy

      You are correct in terms of the past legal issue. But if the wilderness act is amended then the prior ruling by a federal court no longer applies.

      If wilderness areas are to be “untrammeled,” “undeveloped,” and “natural” as George says above then why are pack horse trains allowed to trammel those areas? If people aren’t part of nature (as some enviros claim) and therefore, people don’t deserve accommodation why are some people accommodated and others shouldn’t be? Why are radios and other unnatural items allowed in and waste is allowed to remain after visitors leave?

      As I said in the prior post on the Frank Church Wilderness, what harm are light impact helicopters? If I’m not mistaken those 1,000 helo flights were over a five or ten year period and only in a specific season. If it is alright to manage NSO’s in wilderness why isn’t it acceptable to balance and reduce the peaks and valleys of the feast or famine cycles in interdependent wolf and elk populations?

      One thing that I do agree with you on. I see no reason on earth to have shooting ranges or any other development in a wilderness area. Shooting ranges make a lot more sense in other areas closer to population centers and even then they don’t have to be developed, just placed against a hill/mountain side and marked off with an entrance point away from the hill/mountain side.

      • Hi Gil —

        You’ve made a common error in thinking “untrammeled” is the same as “untrampled.” Rather, it means, “unmanipulated, uncontrolled” To insert this into the wording of the Act, a wilderness is a place where “the earth and its community of life is uncontrolled by man.” Obviously, a pack train does not trammel; it tramples.

        As for why “light impact” helicopters should be prohibited, the simplest answer is that the Wilderness Act makes them illegal unless they are necessary to meet the “MINIMUM requirements” for administration of the area to preserve its wilderness character. Idaho’s desire is to ensure enough elk for a good outfitter harvest, not to preserve an area as untrammeled and natural (where population fluctuations are normal — even if to level those out was the desire of Idaho game & fish — which it wasn’t).

        • Hi George,

          Once again thanks for sharing your thoughts and providing some important lessons about the Wilderness Act and wilderness management on this blog.

        • Funny, Webster doesn’t acknowledge “untrampled” as a word.

          and “untrammeled”? Well here is an example from Webster that shows that you are mistaken:
          “Nearby national parks, although not exactly untrammeled wildernesses, showcase Slovakia’s significant natural assets. Swarming with local hikers,” So, according to Webster ( ), if hikers trammel then pack trains definitely trample and trammel.

  7. And thank you, Matthew, for the link to the discussion draft. The problematic language in this version is Section 503(e). Note that adequate NEPA analysis in FWS wilderness areas is prohibited in 503(c)(2).

  8. Much of what is being proposed already happens and is approved by the USFS. During fires clearance is often given, almost always during preparedness level 5, for use of chainsaws by smoke jumpers going into wilderness areas. Helicopters are often used to drop & retrieve firefighters in wilderness areas. Many wilderness areas contain existing roads built before the designation. The Rogue Umpqua Divide Wilderness is a prime example. The Strawberry Mountains are another. There is even a D8 size dozer sitting in the Kalmiopsis at an old mine site. There are old wagon roads in the Sky Lakes that use to lead into Crater Lake. We used to dig out sumps/seaps to use Mark III pumps (with permission), then rehab it before we packed out, I’d challenge anybody to find evidence of it today. The Bob Marshall is pock marked with hunting camps and criss crossed with pack trails. Should we ban all human impact and let it go in flames? And what of the unintended consequences of taking that approach.
    These are often unique areas, but as often not “untouched or untrammeled”. Sometimes they weren’t even unique, but just a way to set aside more land at the request of special interests. It would seem at some point we understand that these areas have value but aren’t untouchable or untouched. To give a dire opinion that this bill is gutting existing policy would seem to not understand what is the existing policy or practices currently in use, many for at least 30 years, in wilderness areas.

    • Forester,

      You are quite right that many of the activities that state game & fish agencies would be allowed to undertake without approval by the feds under the SHARE Act are the kinds of things that happen already. But they happen in response to an emergency, and manipulating game populations cannot be considered to fall under that category. To broaden those kinds of activities to day-to-day operations — and operations not undertaken by the land management agency — would indeed destroy the fabric of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

      And, you correct in saying that many of these areas had roads and other developments in them. Nowhere in the Wilderness Act does it say that areas had to be pristine. The law simply says that from now on “we” will manage them for the values enumerated in Section 2(c) of the Act. There are wildernesses that have been logged in the past, mined in the past. That is largely immaterial for stewardship post-designation. It is not their condition before designation that makes them unique, it is the way we manage them NOW (if you can call 110 million acres “unique”! Maybe, since we’re talking about less than 3% of the Lower 49, they are “almost unique”?)

      If you think there are designated wilderness areas that shouldn’t be managed as wilderness (and I happen to think there are some), the remedy is simple: support legislation to undesignate that area. Absent that, by favoring chipping away stewardship framework for the System, what one advocates is what has been called a system of WINOs — Wilderness In Name Only.

      • George you’re right that the circumstances are different, but if there is a negative effect, then why is it acceptable? We’ve seen numerous declarations and legislation declare an “emergency” to circumvent the system. I think that common sense decisions based on what the long term goals are would be best, but that apparently leaves too much to chance and is too subjective to ones personal bias.
        As for legislation to undo a Wilderness, it won’t happen. They like Monuments are created with a stroke of the pen, and look at the backlash from attempting to undo the abuse of the antiquities act. A good act that has been severely abused.
        I enjoy recreating and hunting in various wilderness areas, but am very disenchanted with beautiful areas being set aside and watching hundreds of thousands of acres of them be reduced to brush fields overloaded with snags and no longer safe to use. On a professional level dealing with the loss of thousands of acres of private resources because of the lack of management in wilderness and the lack of say in the designation of wilderness, is a lose/lose. I’m at a loss to see all the benefits used to justify wilderness designation, and even at more of a loss to see the detriment of the potential effects of the bill in comparison to the “natural” impacts.

        • Thanks for your feedback, Forester. I’ll respond to three of the points you made.

          1) Why is a negative effect acceptable in one circumstance but not the other? Acceptability is entirely dependent on circumstances in most actions in life, isn’t it? A fire department cuts down all the trees around your house to prevent the approaching fire from burning your house. OK. Your neighbor cuts down all the trees around your house so the view from his house is better. Not OK.

          2) No wilderness area was created by the stroke of a pen, like many (though not all) Monuments have been. Every wilderness was created by an Act of Congress. Portions of wilderness areas have been deleted (admittedly, small areas, and in all but one instance were accompanied by additions or other designations in the same bill). I agree it is unlikely that an entire wilderness would be undesignated, but that doesn’t mean we should weaken the law for all wilderness areas to accommodate the desired effect in a few.

          3) I can see that from a professional forester’s point of view, not managing a forest for what you see as its health would be aggravating. But the idea behind the Wilderness Act is that there should be some areas that we specifically DON’T manage like the rest of our land. Space and time for species that we humans don’t necessarily value, but are of intrinsic worth as part of Creation. Wildernesses comprise about 20% of FS land, and less than 5% of BLM (with Wilderness Study Areas included, it comes to near 10%) — so, still, the vast majority of the public “multiple use” lands are managed primarily for direct human resource needs. Is that an appropriate mix?

          • A Wilderness designation does not stop impacts from people. With that fact in mind, how can we pretend that Wilderness designation will protect it forever and ever, in the most ‘natural’ way possible? At some point, humans will probably have to intervene, in some Wilderness Areas, for public safety and cost savings. For example, dead spruce forests inside Wilderness Areas should be torched, when it is safe(r), during the fall. It is better for us to initiate those burns, rather than letting them burn in the middle of fire season. It’s cheaper, with fewer impacts, to burn up dead trees in the fall than in the middle of summer.

            • Well, certainly all wilderness areas are impacted by humans — the whole earth is. In wilderness, we simply try to keep those impacts to the minimum while manipulating the ecosystem as little as possible. It is a sometimes difficult and always controversial balance.

              I fear I got us off track by using a fire analogy — fire is one of the most difficult topics in wilderness stewardship. The SHARE Act has nothing to do with that, but rather the various states’ desires to use federal wilderness areas as fence-less game farms, in clear and blatant opposition to the Wilderness Act.

          • George I don’t think we are that different on our thinking, but here’s my take.
            When I wrote that they were created with a stroke of the pen, I was referring to the fact that often times there was little science behind how they got to the current condition or how the desired value being protected would respond to the change in human influence or lack of, but we must now do a scientific review on an activity that would have little to no permanent effect. Yes, the designation was done thru legislation but often times it has been a rider on some other bill, such as emergency funding or an appropriations bill, as a way to garner a few more votes, not necessarily because the uniqueness or value of the area.
            As to your scenario about our neighbors. If your neighbor gets a dog, doesn’t build a fence and the dog comes onto your property and kills your chickens, who’s responsible? Does the County have the right to check your dog for a license? If you neighbor decides to let their yard become overgrown with brush, then has a burn pile get away and it burns your house down, who’s responsible?
            We sit here with the idea that it’s all a one way street. That idea is quickly loses steam among the general public as a result of the way it is being managed. Being a good neighbor has always gone along way to making a workable partnership.

            • I’m not sure your “neighbor” scenarios translate, since your talking about domestic animals and neighbors’ actions, and I was trying to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable rationales for the same effect.

              By the way, if I live next to a WILD place, and a WILD animal comes into my yard and kills my chickens, it’s MY responsibility for not protecting them adequately. And if the wild place is managed by the federal government, neither the County nor State has the right to “manage” the wild animal without federal acquiescence. If my neighbor lights a fire and it burns down my house, he may well be liable. But if Nature lights the fire, I am liable, since I did not adequately fire-proof my house.

              As for your one-way street — It is interesting to note (from the Sonoran Institute research, if I remember correctly) that property values are higher in counties with wilderness than in similar counties without, and (in general) more valuable the closer to the wilderness. So apparently, “the market” thinks wilderness is a pretty good neighbor.

              • George
                It might be time to revisit SI’s study. The house values around the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, site of the current 180,000 acre Chetco Bar Fire (that are still standing) are lower than than houses in the same counties further away from the wilderness. As for many other areas at least in the PNW, I can think of several other examples that I confirmed with a quick Zillow search. Douglas County – Boulder Creek Wilderness, Rogue Umpqua Divide Wilderness. Deschutes County – Three Sisters Wilderness.
                As for wild animals coming out of the wilderness, I think we’re are seeing the results of that being resolved at the state level quite well. While still on federally managed land, its looks like it will be resolved also.
                The point I find interesting is the fire protection. Scenario; person owns a 40 acre parcel, which borders USFS, and has removed or thinned out trees for 2 tree lengths from the house and hand piled the underbrush on the rest of the property. Due to site geography the house is located 400′ from the property line. A lightning fire, from 40 days previous and 8 miles inside the boundary, that was not suppressed comes off of the USFS at a rate of 1500′ in roughly 5 minutes with 250-300′ flames lengths and spot fires 2 miles ahead of its self, the house is destroyed and thousands of acres of private land an 25 additional houses are destroyed.
                You’re saying this is the home owners responsibilty to better fire proof their home and not the USFS responsibilty to keep fire that they chose to let burn from leaving the land they manage?If I understood you correctly.
                This would be a great example of the thinking that will push the pendulum way back past center.
                Honestly, I don’t see the benefit long term to continuing the “it’s natural, live with it” attitude. Not addressing the problems with a workable solution is turning sentiment back to demanding heavy handed stop every fire at all costs…… but maybe short term success is more important to those who believe if “it’s natural live with it.”

                • I think we’ve reached an impasse, Forester — it’s all contained in your sentence, “Honestly, I don’t see the benefit long term to continuing the “it’s natural, live with it” attitude.” It’s clear that you don’t. Neither do many others — you are far from alone. Perhaps that is why we have so little wilderness in this country.

                  To borrow a phrase from Aldo, “Neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

                  I wish you well.

                  • George again we agree, we are at an impass as are many from both of our view points. My concern is forest health, as I assume is yours too, and if we (all parties) continue to have an impass that ignores the human factor as a relevant value, then the push back will be detrimental to both your and my concern.
                    Until another day, best of luck in your endeavors.

  9. For whatever it’s worth….

    I saw that former U.S. Forest Service regional forester Zane Smith Jr posted this note about Wilderness Watch’s Sportsmen’s (SHARE) Act analysis and call to take action to colleagues on a list serve.

    Zane Smith Jr was raised in a Forest Service family, being the 3rd generation career employee in his family. He served on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. I also believe he was the U.S. Forest Service’s national director of recreation and management. In short, Zane Smith Jr might have an opinion about the SHARE Act and threats to Wilderness worth listening to…or not.

    Fw: Take Action: Sportsmen’s Act Guts the Wilderness Act
    Date: August 31, 2017 at 12:13:58 PM MDT


    I don’t always endorse everything Wilderness Watch promotes, but this is a critical issue. It is in the same category of bicycles, helicopter landings and other intrusions on Wilderness. Such actions chip away at Wilderness and if left alone reduces it to the lowest common denominator.


    Zane G. Smith, Jr.
    U.S. Forest Service, Retired


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