Conservation Campout 

Since 2005, the U.S. Park Service, under the universally beloved Bush administration, has reversed federal protections for roadless wilderness areas, exposing untouched ecosystems to mining, logging and energy development. In a healthy spirit of devil’s advocacy, the Sierra Club has been questioning the soundness and wisdom of prevailing land-management policy. Besides mounting public challenges to the development of public lands, the Sierra Club’s Thomas Hart Benton Group has organized outings to Missouri’s seven remaining roadless areas, including today’s car camp and hike at the Swan Creek roadless area in Garrison, Missouri. David Anderson, a member of the group’s executive committee, says, “We want to introduce more people to the area and make them aware of it.” He adds, “A year and a half ago, there was evidence of motorized vehicles pushing into the area. Looked like four-wheel-drive vehicles in an area they’re not supposed to be in. We saw the ruts of tires and small trees knocked over. You had to be a four-wheel-drive truck to get down that road — it’s been closed for 30 years.” Citing that road — reduced by erosion to little more than a footpath — the Park Service removed the federal protections accorded back in 1986. “They were also claiming there were buildings in the area, but we went down to demonstrate that they were old foundations without standing structures. They went ahead and removed protections anyway — it’s up to their discretion until we can get new legislation passed. In the ’80s, these areas were treated as National Forest acreage and protected. But under the new forest plan, all the protections have been removed.” The group meets today and will camp overnight, with a hike on Sunday. For registration and meeting-point details, call Anderson at 816-678-4359.
Sat., Sept. 29, 2007

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