Kern County Wilderness Meeting


Well-Known Member
Jun 7, 2001
Southern California
> > Well, we did not do as well as we hoped at the Kern County
> > Supervisor's meeting. The vote for the resolution was 3 to1 but because
> > the Kern County Supervisors have a policy of only passing resolutions
> > a unanimous vote, the motion did not carry. The sole vote against the
> > resolution opposing the Boxer wilderness bill was Supervisor Barbara
> > Patrick. Her district is located entirely within the Bakersfield city
> > limits. Supervisor Jon McQuiston did an excellent job of laying out the
> > major problems and concerns with the bill to the other supervisors and
> > offered every possible rationale for the other supervisors to support
> > resolution. Supervisor McQuiston stated, "In my view, there has been no
> > credible public outreach, public meetings, or comprehensive analysis to
> > justify to a reasonable person why this land should be segregated as
> > wilderness." "It's not untrammeled, undeveloped, it's not primeval, and
> > its got a lot of structures, and the Forest Service has not made any
> > determinations," McQuiston concluded. "They have had five years [in
> > developing this legislation] which is ample time to make their case to
> > justify support for wilderness," he noted. The supervisors did,
> > unanimously approve a motion that authorizes the Chairman of the Kern
> > County Board of Supervisors to send a letter to Senator Boxer and other
> > elected officials outlining their concerns. Among the concerns to be
> > addressed in the letter is a request that the wilderness proposal be
> > referred to the Forest Service to study the area to determine wilderness
> > suitability including public involvement in the process and a strong
> > suggestion that adequate funding be appropriated for the study.
> >
> > In beginning the hearing, Board Chairman Perez asked for a show of
> > hands from supporters and opponents and decided to take statements from
> > wilderness supporters first. In total, 15 people spoke in support of
> > additional wilderness designations in Kern County. Their basic
> > were the usual generic emotional reasons for preservation with little
> > discussion of site-specific facts or issues. Among the speakers
> supporting
> > more wilderness were Joe Fontaine; local Sierra Club leader, Mark
> > Christopher; Friends of the River, and Tim Allyn; California Wild
> > Campaign. Tim's statement was quite different from his statement at the
> > July 30th supervisor's meeting. He did not mention having worked with
> > of the OHV representatives and he significantly altered his statements
> that
> > were challenged during the fact-finding meeting with the Kern County
> > Planning Department personnel. He seemed to grope for answers to
> > to questions asked by the supervisor Jon McQuiston regarding the
> > justification for wilderness designations but never did quite make his
> case
> > with any substantive points. The chairman finally cut him off. Other
> > speakers for the bill included hikers, backpackers, canoeists, and a
> > property owner.
> >
> > On the other hand, there were 24 speakers in opposition to the
> > wilderness bill before discussion was cut off due to the lack of time.
> > Speakers included a past Kern County Supervisor, a rancher,
> a
> > farm bureau representative, teachers, a chamber of commerce
> representative,
> > a hot springs enthusiast, mountain bicyclists, motorized and
> > recreation organization representatives, an executive director of a
> > boys camp, miners, and two disabled persons, one in a wheel chair and
> > another having to carry an oxygen bottle. All made excellent points.
> > Taylor, who represented Kern Off Highway Vehicle Association, showed
> > several recent photographs of roads, cabins, and mining structure taken
> > one of the proposed wilderness areas where the proponents insisted that
> > roads exist. Several attendees and a reporter later noted they were
> > surprised by the diversity of the opponents of the wilderness bill.
> >
> > Even though the original resolution was not carried, there were a
> > number of resulting benefits for our perspective. First, because the
> > supervisors directed the Planning Department personnel to meet with
> > proponents and opponents of the bill, the supervisors are much more
> > of the real issues and now know the facts. Second, opponents
> > the bill's supporters by at least fifty percent thus demonstrating that
> > likely majority of people in Kern County opposes the bill. Third,
> > of the print and televised media coverage, the public is now very much
> more
> > aware of the proposal for more wilderness. This will foster more
> > opposition to the bill. Finally, several supervisors noted that some
> > of alternate less restrictive land management designation should be
> > available. Obviously, the backcountry designation could provide a basis
> > for the needed alternative.
> >
> > It was noted that the county received 84 letters regarding Boxer's
> > wilderness bill. There were 68 letters opposing the bill and only 16 in
> > support. This is significant because, historically, we have not usually
> > been able to outnumber the environmentalist's letters to such a degree.
> > Considering the number of letters coupled with the low turnout of
> > wilderness supporters, one could conclude that the environmental
> > organizations are losing their public support as their position on land
> > management issues become more and more discriminatory, exclusionary, and
> > extreme.
> >
> >
> > A related article is available online on the Bakersfield
> > website. The URL is
> >
> >
> >
> > A summary of the proceedings and a list of speakers is located on
> > Kern County website. See page 12.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > This information is provided by Ron Schiller, Chairman, High Desert
> > Multiple Use Coalition. As usual, please feel free to pass this
> > information on to any other interested parties. Anyone wishing to
> > future information regarding issues related to the management of public
> > lands in the California Desert should send an e-mail to
> > and request to be placed on the distribution
> > list. Please print "PLEASE ADD TO LIST" in the subject line.

CORVA Field Rep - So. Cal.