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Testimony by Chuck Cushman, Coordinator

Keep Private Lands in Private Hands Coalition

Executive Director
American Land Rights Association
(Formerly the National Inholders Association)

House Resources Committee
US House of Representatives
Honorable Don Young, Chairman
Honorable Jim Hansen, Presiding

June 12, 1999
Salt Lake City, Utah

Conservation and Reinvestment Act (HR-701)
Permanent Protection for America's Resources 2000 Act
Clinton/Gore Lands Legacy Initiative

 

Continued from previous page....

Do Most People in Parks Want to Sell?
That's Nonsense!

The American Land Rights Association would not exist if that were true. People would not support us with their membership dues and extra contributions if all they wanted to do is sell. A very small part of the authorized backlog is people who are willing sellers.

But these relatively few cases are hyped by the green groups and some in Congress to justify their land acquisition goals. Let there be no mistake. If a person wants to sell, we support his ability to do so. But having the government involved corrupts the whole system. Once a person makes the mental decision to sell, he'll sell the easiest way possible. The Park Service and other agencies will have little reason not to want to buy with a trust fund behind them. The result will be even more of what has happened in the past the Park Service and other agencies have become a dumping ground for open space.

However, often the only reason a landowner wants to sell is that he has been harassed and driven half-crazy trying to deal with the Park Service who generally fails to negotiate in good faith. After enough pressure and abusive tactics, almost any landowner can become a willing seller.

But the bottom line is that most landowners still do not wish to sell their land and GAO says that it is not necessary to buy them to achieve project objectives.

In the 70's it was clear the Park Service and other agencies didn't bother to prioritize their acquisitions. In their view they were going to buy it all so who cared. The trust fund will simply restart that mindless attack on rural America. In a 1979 interview with the then Carter Administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior David Hales and the author, Hales said, "If Congress puts a circle around it, we're going to buy it all."

Neighbors Follow The Money
THE MORE MONEY THE FEDERAL AGENCIES GET, THE WORSE NEIGHBORS THEY BECOME.

SOME SPECIFIC CASE STUDIES FROM THE 70'S.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in Washington State-----was created at the same time as the North Cascades National Park. Lake Chelan was made a NRA so that the small community of Stehekin could continue its pioneering subsistence way of life. It was necessary for the community to have access to wood, water and power to continue.

Lake Chelan offered a unique opportunity to provide the handicapped, elderly, and children a truly wild experience at the end of a 40 mile boat ride, the only regular method to get into Stehekin. There were only 1,600 acres of private land. According to the GAO, the Park Service purchased most of these, cutting off the ability of the community to provide for many visitors.

In fact, it has been said that by 1980 there were half as many beds available to disadvantaged recreationists as there had been in 1968 when the area was made a National Recreation Area. The Park Service had purchased some of the facilities and closed them down.

Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park----There had been more than fifteen recreation resorts and destinations at Lake Crescent before the Park Service went on its land acquisition rampage. Now there are only two. How many handicapped, elderly and children will not get that fine experience they would have had with those facilities still operating?

The Buffalo National River in Arkansas-----While preparing for a debate on the "Today" show on NBC in 1988 between myself and Denis Galvin of the Park Service, the NBC staffers found that the Park Service had started out with 1,103 landowners. The law clearly encouraged easements and did not intend to destroy the special cultural communities along the river. The culture was so unique it was featured in National Geographic. However, NBC said there were only eight landowners left in 1988, the 20th anniversary.

I served with former Parks Committee Chairman Roy Taylor on the National Park System Advisory Board and Council in 1982. He told me personally that Congress never intended for the people of the Buffalo to be destroyed.

St. Croix River in Minnesota -----According to a 1978 report on rivers by GAO, they found the Park Service had acquired 21,000 acres when they were only supposed to acquire 1,000 acres of access sites according to the legislative intent.

St. Croix River----- Another GAO report issued in 1979 found the Park Service had 2,100 acres under condemnation, which was 900 acres over the legal limit. The Park Service agreed but said that when they concluded the condemnation trials on people enough to reach the limit, the rest would receive scenic easements.

St. Croix River ----- Park Service was found guilty by the Justice Department of using project influence to pay landowners less than fair market value. Justice planned to make the agency go back and re-appraise the land and pay for what it had taken illegally. American Land Rights had to pressure the Justice Department to follow through.

St. Croix River-----Park Service is now over its legal limit for using condemnation to buy fee title. They are now threatening landowners with excessively restrictive public access easements that only leave the landowner with the right to pay taxes and liability for personal injury.

St. Croix River-----Ironically, one of the best examples of the use of easements was not by the Park Service. The Kettle River is a tributary under the responsibility of the State of Minnesota. The state purchased land protection in the form of easements for a fraction of the average cost paid by the Park Service in adjacent areas.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota----The Forest Service used LWCF funds to buy up and remove many resorts throughout the whole region of Minnesota. The result was not more recreation but recreation transferred to the young and healthy at the expense of the elderly, handicapped and children. There was a massive loss of access to traditional hunting and fishing areas further reducing broad-based family recreation.

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota-----The Park Service admitted in a 1979 GAO report that they had acquired enough land for the park from the timber companies and did not need to acquire all the private landholdings that dotted this sparsely populated area. The agency went on to acquire the inholders.

Fire Island National Seashore in New York-----The Park Service was found guilty by the GAO in a 1981 report of acquiring an expensive home completely surrounded by other homes and not available for any form of public recreation. The Park Service justified its condemnation simply because the landowner had built his deck a little too large and had received a zoning variance from the local town. The cost to the taxpayer was $100,000 for nothing.

C & O Canal in Maryland ----- The Park Service threatened all landowners with condemnation in the years around 1974. Even though they were required to offer landowners a life tenancy under the 1969 Uniform Relocation Act, the agency failed to provide each landowner notice of his rights because park officials wanted to limit any use and occupancy reservations to 25 years. The result is that now the landowners are fighting to get what was fairly theirs. Their Congressman, Roscoe Bartlett, has worked tirelessly to try to save the former landowners from Park Service eviction.

Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in Southwest Virginia-----A Forest Service area created in 1966. Congress had specified that the agency should acquire 39,500 acres, 40% of them in fee title that would have allowed the communities to stay. When questioned by congressional investigators and the author in 1979 about how many acres they had purchased in fee and how many easements, they responded that they had purchased over 26,000 acres in fee and no easements. The agency thought Congress didn't really mean what they said in the law. They viewed it as just a suggestion. It took a surprising amount of hard work by former Congressman Bill Wampler of Virginia to stop a massive new round of condemnation actions planned by the Forest Service.

Yosemite National Park in California-----76 year old James Downey, a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, was threatened with condemnation in 1971 because he wanted to add a bathroom. He had no tub and had a double size septic tank and there was a covered breezeway under which the bathroom was to be built. There would be no new land coverage. The Park Service said what he was doing was an incompatible act and he would be condemned. They came back to him two weeks later after realizing their political insensitivity and said that if he would sell them his home, they would lease it back to him and then it would be OK to build his bathroom. Was the goal to stop the bathroom or buy the house?

Yosemite National Park----- Harold Tischmacher's home burned down in December 1977. When he tried to rebuild it on the same foundation, the Park Service started condemnation proceedings because they said it was an incompatible act. He was saved by congressional intervention by Congressman Bernie Sisk (D-CA).

Foresta Fire, Yosemite National Park-----In the late 80's a fire got out of control in Yosemite National Park, roared up a canyon and wiped out the entire village of Foresta, about 80 homes. Park Service Superintendent Michael Findley had turned down help from the Forest Service and the state forestry service. After the fire, Findley requested that Congress give him immediate permission to condemn all the home sites because he could buy them cheaply since fire insurance would pay for the lost houses. When he was denied, he then set up as many roadblocks as possible to prevent the landowners from rebuilding, thereby forcing some to sell.

Unfortunately these cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds and perhaps thousands more have not been recorded. Investigators can find these kinds of stories at nearly every park or other special designation Federal area.

NO LAW TO PREVENT THESE ABUSES HAS BEEN PASSED.

In the 1980's condemnations went down because the Reagan Administration opposed the use of this tool wherever possible. Offshore oil and gas money was reassigned to other social priorities by sending it directly to the treasury.

THERE WERE ABUSES IN THE 80'S

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming-----In an important national case a landowner had been trying to sell his 160 acres to the Park Service for 10 years. They've had the money. The problem was the bad faith negotiations extending all the way up the highest levels of Park Service management. The landowner finally had to threaten to subdivide his land in order to get them to make the purchase. The landowner did not want to subdivide and had been a good steward.

The agency condemned him. During the next five years this case took, the landowner offered to settle with the Park Service and it was agreed to right up to the Directors level. William Mott overturned the agreement for $1.8 million. The case then went to trial and ultimately cost the government over $3.2 million, far more than the agreed upon settlement. The judge was not complimentary to the bad faith negotiating by the Park Service. To make the case more bizarre, this piece of land was the highest priority acquisition for the Park Service in the country and they still could not manage to negotiate in good faith.

Santa Monica Mountains NRA in California-----In the Murphy Duane case the landowner spent years going through all the vast permitting process and Coastal Commission approval to get to the point were he could build his dream home. The Park Service strategy was to let him go. Only when he had spent thousands of dollars and man-hours to get local approval, did they say they were going to condemn his land. Intervention by Members of Congress stopped this abusive example.

Chesboro Canyon, Santa Monica Mountains NRA in California-----The Park Service had enough money to purchase this Trust For Public Land Property for $8 million leaving hundreds of small landowners in another area of the NRA laying helpless and strangling. This is the exact kind of case that gives the impression that lots of landowners want to sell and that there is the need for HR-701 because there isn't enough money.

The plain fact is that if the Park Service had used its money wisely to buy hardships and willing sellers they knew existed, there would be no cry for more money. It was lobbying by the Trust For Public Land that allowed the $8 million to go for property the Park Service did not need to purchase thereby preventing the truly needy landowners from being paid.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Sweeney Ridge in California-----The Trust For Public Land acquired an option on this property for $8.5 million. They then negotiated a sale to the Park Service for $9.6 million. The Park Service really did not want to buy the property at all. Both the Carter and Reagan Administrations agreed that the land was not of park quality and should not be purchased.

However, as is often the case with large land trusts, TPL orchestrated a political campaign and forced a political confrontation. They obtained appraisals to show that the land was valued at anywhere from $21 million to $24 million. The landowner, part of a large oil company, hoped to obtain a large tax deduction. Our investigation showed the land worth from $7 to $10 million.

Interior Secretary Bill Clark ultimately negotiated a sale near the $8.5 figure, due in part to our campaign against this unfortunate use of land acquisition funds. The figure was 8% of the entire land acquisition budget for the Park Service. Many other deserving landowners were left out because of this misuse of money. The problem is not that there wasn't enough money, but that the money was spent unwisely.

Appalachian Trail, Hanover, New Hampshire-----The Park Service, working closely with the Dartmouth Outing Club, attempted to use LWCF funds to buy a greenway around Dartmouth College. They did this by moving the Appalachian Trail over to make it go through the middle of farmlands rather than along the fence lines as they were supposed to do and using a 1000 foot corridor to build their impact. They were found to be lying to Washington officials about their activities when called in to explain and ultimately had to move the trail back to the fence line and share the impact among adjacent owners. They were forced to use easements even though they tried to avoid using them. Only American Land Rights intervention saved their lands.

Appalachian Trail, Sheffield, Massachusetts----- Park Service ignored the Land Protection Planning Process and ran the trail through town without consulting local officials, holding hearings or meetings or producing a land protection plan for the area that had been shown to either local landowners or officials. In fact, the Park Service had deliberately rerouted the trail at the request of the green groups to run it through the land that was planned to be used for a high tech, low impact recycling plant the greens wanted to stop. The Appalachian Trail has often been used as a weapon. Park Service officials repeated this kind of abuse over and over along the Appalachian Trail.

As in the earlier examples, this is the tip of the iceberg. When there is little oversight there is no reason for the agency to even attempt to obey the law. And they end up spending billions of dollars that do not have to be spent.

HOW ABOUT THE 90'S? THE ABUSES CONTINUED.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore in Michigan-----Riverside Canoes owned by Kathy and Tom Stocklen has been serving the public well for many years. Even the Park Service admitted they ran a good clean recreation business. But they would not sign over an easement type contract to the Park Service without compensation. The Park Service had already purchased two other canoe liveries and a campground either in condemnation or under threat of condemnation.

Finally, in 1990, the Park Service condemned the Stocklens. After several meetings with Park Service officials in Washington, no one at the agency could justify the condemnation, yet it went forward none the less. Finally, in 1992 just before the election, American Land Rights planned a huge demonstration in front of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The Interior Department forced a settlement that gave the Stocklens back their land and compensated them for their attorney's fees prior to the demonstration.

Sleeping Bear was originally set up as a National Recreation Area. That is what a National Lakeshore is. It is tough to have full access to recreation when the managing agency buys out all the services providing certain types of recreation.

Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge in Maine-----The FWS wanted to expand the refuge. They promised the local people they would only buy from willing sellers. The others relaxed. After the willing sellers had been purchased, the agency came back, denied they had ever said they would only buy from willing sellers, and began threatening condemnation. This is a pattern that repeats itself over and over again.

Saddleback Mountain Ski Area in Maine-----Time after time, for over 20 years, the family that owns Saddleback has tried to work out a settlement of the route for the Appalachian Trail so that they could modernize and complete their ski area. Bad faith followed by bad faith by the Park Service in negotiations continues to this day. In fact, Saddleback recently offered the Park Service twice the land they could condemn under law just to settle the matter. Yet Saddleback sits twisting in the wind. The losers are the family, the community that loses jobs and $40 million of much needed economic activity per year for the region. The recreation ski community loses access to what would become one of the finest ski areas in America. The greens want new National Parks in Maine. It is hard to imagine why Maine or Congress would allow the Park Service to take over 5 to 10 million more acres in Maine when they cannot seem to solve problems and get along on a simple trail.

Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama-----Here is an example of pure politics at work. The former Congressman from the area essentially told the Park Service to find him a park in his district. He apparently needed another monument. Fortunately, the agency found the Little River Canyon, which we consider of national significance. The State of Alabama and the Alabama Power Company owned it. As usual, the Park Service wanted much more. They tried to include the homes and farms of over 500 nearby landowners. American Land Rights helped fight the proposal, which ultimately was settled by Congress using just the state and power company land. The cost to the Park Service was minimal. It was totally unnecessary to include the 500 landowners. This kind of expansionist process that is imbedded in the Park Service culture raises the cost of parks and hurts the taxpayer.

Can It Happen Again?
HR-701 Makes It Appear Impossible To Avoid!

Congress has passed no law that would prevent a return to the terrible days of the 70's. The only difference is money. A simple change in policy by the Interior Department or less enforcement of the present policy that already falls short is all it would take. HR-701 will bring on a nightmare to rural communities across America.

A Summary

The Problem

While HR-701 starts out more modestly, it will ultimately and inevitably increase to over $1 billion per year and probably more with modest additions each election cycle. That is not counting the likely possibility of a compromise with the more aggressive bills proposed by others. Once the Trust Fund is set up, the gradual expansion process is inevitable. There will be no going back. The cow will be out of the barn and down the road. Just like the Endangered Species Act, Congress will be cowed into allowing a law that hurts people to continue to hurt people.

Why should the Park Service, Forest Service or Fish and Wildlife Service be given a new entitlement by this Congress which gives those agencies a higher priority for funding than the Defense Department, education, aids research, and many other important issues. Every program should have to compete for appropriations. No more entitlements.

No private property will be safe with the funds from HR-701 available. Gradually, over time, all inholder families will be wiped out. Special Interest Groups will seek to create new congressionally designated lands to apply their newfound largess. As was said about former Congressman Phil Burton, "if the only tool he had was a hammer, everything he saw would look like a nail." With HR-701, everything will begin to look endangered to certain special interest groups and in need of Federal purchase.

How much is enough? Is it the policy of this Congress to buy up all America? There should be a no net loss of private land policy in America so that any new acquisitions are accompanied by a corresponding sale of government lands.

What is the end game? Many members of Congress keep asking how America is gong to extract itself from Kosovo and the Balkans. We would ask how Congress would be able to shut off this new unappropriated, dedicated and off-budget trust fund entitlement once it is started. The experience of the past says you will be unable to do so. The end result for anyone who cares to look beyond the years of his own term is obvious. The solution is so much bigger than the problem that the solution becomes the problem. Land acquisition will overwhelm rural America.

There is little oversight of land acquisition now. There will be virtually none if this bill passes.

Why are inholder families targeted for acquisition and removal? Senator Orrin Hatch once referred to this process as "cultural genocide." Why cannot Federal areas be managed with families and communities still there? Why this hysterical rush to wipe out this cultural resource? Hundreds of small communities in existing Federal areas will be wiped off the map.

Land acquisition has always been used as a weapon to regulate and control private landowners. With billions of dollars to spend in a dependable and continuing stream, Federal agencies will be able to threaten landowners and control their activities. The reach of HR-701 into the very underpinnings of our Republic is remarkable.

Land acquisition destroys the culture and history of the US, often driving out old families. The Park Service is essentially the curator of our nations history and culture. Yet, Park Service practice in the past has been to buy out and destroy much or our cultural heritage.

Special Interest Groups will seek to designate hundreds of areas of private land as new government reservations. It will never stop. Just look at their current attempt to convert the 26 million-acre Northern Forests of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York into new Federal parks, refuges and other reservations of various kinds. Even the bill language of HR-701 appears to encourage this massive government sponsored population relocation plan.

Billions of dollars of private land will be taken off the tax rolls, forcing local taxes up. The taxes for those people who are not acquired will go up forcing some to sell, others not to invest and generally place a negative push against community development.

The basic tax base of many jurisdictions will be damaged or destroyed. It is true that HR-701 will provide money to the states, which they can choose to build swimming pools and other recreation alternatives. But HR-701 also funds the purchase of land by the state and Federal government which ultimately and permanently weakens that community or jurisdictions ability to provide basic services or even maintain those same swimming pools.

Reports over the past twenty years by the General Accounting Office document an ever increasing trend of poorly maintained National Parks. From an estimate of $2 billion in maintenance backlog in 1981, the estimate by some seems to indicate that the backlog may approach $10 billion or more. Does it make sense for this country to buy more land when it cannot take care of what it already owns?

The Payments In-Lieu of Tax Program, PILT, has never been fully funding by Congress. Local communities don't get near enough money to replace the tax revenue they lost to Federal land acquisition. What is worse, PILT is essentially a "snapshot" concept where future payments are based on the value of land as of the date of acquisition. Thus a county that must meet the needs of 1999 gets payments based on 1976 values for example.

HR-701 will fund the buying out of new mining ventures, a vast array of the timber supply and ranching operations all over America. Thousands of jobs will be lost and with them a tremendous loss in economic opportunity and vitality. Rural communities don't take much economic upheaval to permanently damage the economic ecosystem.

Park Service Is Being Damaged

Unfortunately, Cuyahoga Valley is not an isolated example of how our Park Service areas are being managed. It is rather common place. Yet Congress has largely failed to examine the abuses discussed in this important film or how they could be corrected. The loss is to the Park Service. Because Congress failed to provide proper oversight, the Park Service feels it is immune from criticism. People who don't have to compete generally fail to be the best they can be. Congress, the Administration and yes, even the environmental groups, are cheating themselves and the American public out of a better Park Service.

Conservation and Reinvestment Act Will Buy Land and Destroy People

Inholders are the targets of HR-701. They are the families in communities that will be removed at will by the National Park Service and other Federal agencies who will no longer be constrained to attempt to be good neighbors because they don't have enough money. If they cannot condemn people, they will simply threaten them, harass them, cut off their access, cut off Federal loans and grants and disaster relief and eventually drive them out. It's easy. It just takes a little more time.

The Conservation and Reinvestment Act (HR-701) will make victims out of people who are discriminated against because of where they live. These people will be rewarded for taking care or their land by having it taken from them.

Condemnation is a terrible tool often abused in its use in the past by the Park Service and Forest Service. Only limited funds have kept it under control. It is vital that any legislation adding financial strength to the Land and Water Conservation Fund also carry with it the restraints necessary to monitor and control that strength. We would be glad if HR-701 ultimately applies funds only to willing sellers but find the likelihood of that happening not very high. Even if willing seller passes this Congress, it will be easy to add condemnation back in next Congress. It's the Trust Fund, the money that does the damage.

In the near term, the Fish and Wildlife Service may be the most dangerous Federal agency. They are the only agency that can set up a Federal area without authorization by Congress. HR-701 says that money will only go to areas designated by Congress. It will be a simple matter for the Fish and Wildlife Service to set up a new refuge, then go for congressional designation. The FWS has such a huge constituency behind it that Members of Congress are afraid to put any real oversight into this agency or its abuses. HR-701 will only make matters worse.

Millions of Acres Inside National Forests Will Now Be New Targets Of Land Acquisition

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of HR-701 is that it will make tens of thousands of landowners with millions of acres of private land inside National Forests almost entirely new targets of land acquisition. They don't even know it is coming. They have no experience with land acquisition because the Forest Service has never focused on land acquisition other than specially designated areas like National Recreation Areas and Wild and Scenic Rivers. And there hasn't been the money. Now there will be a massive attempt to consolidate all the checkerboarded private lands and inholdings in the National Forests. Hundreds of small, unincorporated communities will find that if HR-701 passes, life in the National Forests will be changed forever.

Members of Congress with National Forests in their districts ought to hold a few hearings where they explain clearly to their constituents that they are supporting a bill that would target these people. You would see a huge uprising. As of now, the potential victims have no idea of the impending danger. Who do you think they'll blame when they figure it out? It will certainly be their Congressman who failed to tell them. Then he'll spend the rest of his career being a management consultant trying to mitigate the damage and hold off the Forest Service.

Hunters and other Sportsmen Are In For A Surprise

Hunters and other sportsmen who count on private lands intermingled with Federal land as their access to those lands that are often closed because they're designated as Wilderness will find their favorite hunting and fishing spots closed as the government targets these areas for acquisition to eliminate the access.

Some sportsmen's organizations have recommended buying out the ranchers and farmers around the forests and the parks to protect the winter range for their hunting targets. We support hunting. But some sportsmen seem to think that those farms and ranches will supply the same level and quality of forage when the farmer or rancher is no longer their. It is the working farm or ranch that provides the quality winter range. Sometimes the farmer or rancher is not happy about it because he is actually subsidizing the government and the hunters with his private property. But the fact is that these farms and ranches provide far more in winter range than they would if land acquisition cleared out the occupants.

Trails Will Become the New Battlegrounds

Congress is creating a number of new trails across the nation. They are trying to make sure there will not be massive land acquisition. But like night follows day, the Appalachian Trail will be the model.

First, each new trail is a model of cooperation with landowners. There are no threats. Deals are struck to run the trail across the land of willing participants. Eventually this arrangement gets too cumbersome so the trail society (like the Appalachian Trail Conference and all its local groups) lobby Congress to add land acquisition. Gradually the power of the managing agency is ratcheted up as the lobbying intensifies. Because a trail is a long string of land, the trail clubs have the power of many Congressional delegations supporting them while the poor landowner only has one Congressman and two Senators and virtually no chance to fight back. The result is generations of anger and frustration as landowner after landowner loses his land. Examples along the Appalachian Trail are numerous.

Another problem with trail management is that the support groups or clubs like the Appalachian Trail Conference largely run the agency in charge of the trail. In the case of most people who manage parks, they are routinely rotated from park to park. But in a few cases they develop fiefdoms and spend most of their careers in one place. The current management of the Appalachian Trail is one example. The current project manager has been at that one location for over 20 years. The Appalachian Trail Conference wants consistent power. They constantly lobby to keep "their" person in charge. The result is bad management and political nest building that damages the Park Service and strains relations with local governments and others who must deal with trail management.

HR-701 Will Help Create a Slush Fund Subsidy or Entitlement

Certain powerful special interest groups have lobbied to set up their own single-use entitlement program, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act. It is curious that under the cover of the "word-tool" called "recreation" these groups actually support legislation such as HR-701 which is anti-recreation. At least for the broad spectrum of the American public families; children, handicapped and the elderly are largely locked out of areas created with the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Instead these areas are set aside for the privileged few that are young and healthy enough to gain access and enjoy them.

Why an entitlement or subsidy? Should we be setting up special interest entitlements for every segment of society? Shouldn't resource preservation and limited-use recreation have to stand in line with everyone else during the budget process? Shouldn't wilderness and parks have to compete with other important social priorities like the Defense Department, education, AIDS research, childcare, and children's programs.

Why should the environmental groups get a special deal? They have become the privileged class. The Sierra Club advertises that the median income of its members is well in excess of $60,000 yet it joins other environmental groups equally as wealthy standing in front of the line to the door to the Federal treasury. And they do it with tax-exempt dollars too. How many subsidies would they like?

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