Ever the controversial subject in the Eastern Sierra, a recently proposed Wilderness bill has stirred the pot yet again.
Republican Congressman Buck McKeon and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer have joined forces to push a Wilderness bill through Washington DC that could end up designating 472,000 acres new Wilderness areas in Inyo and Mono Counties. In Independence Tuesday, the Inyo Supervisors weighed in with their disapproval of the proposed bill and how the bill came about.
In the proposed bill 223,000 acres of the White Mountains would be designated wilderness, the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra would expand by 19,000 acres, areas off of highway 120 East, in the Granite Mountains would be designated, and the Amargosa River would be declared a Wild and Scenic river.
The goal of the discussion Tuesday was to clarify Inyo Countys position on this bill. They did that, the board was unanimous in their opposition.
Supervisor Linda Arcularius, who drafted a letter to Congressman McKeon, said that private property rights needed to be more absolute in the bill. She was concerned with horse and commercial stock access, and a ban on new mining and geothermal claims in areas designated as wilderness.
Supervisor Susan Cash spoke against the process by which the bill came about, saying that public meetings and public input did not happen. Supervisor Jim Bilyeu said that there was little compromise in the bill and called the process underhanded.
All supervisors expressed concern that this wilderness bill would not be the last and that in the future, other bills would put more land under the wilderness designation.
In order to get local public input on this Wilderness Bill the supervisors tentatively scheduled public meetings in July. The hope was to get representatives from the offices of Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Congressman McKeon to attend the meetings as well. The meetings are tentatively scheduled for the first week of July in Bishop and Independence. Well keep you posted on the exact dates and times.