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E-M:/ Nugent, Unser and Wilderness


Alex Sagady gave the synopsis, and others have also reacted.  I wanted to make
sure you all knew, although the papers failed to mention it, that Congressman
Dale Kildee was on the panel for the hearing, and did a terrific job tracking
the factual information down so that it could make it into the record.
Unfortunately, the information in the newspaper was a classic example of lazy
reporting -- CLEARLY the reporters made no effort whatsoever to talk to people
who actually knew about these assertions.  Here is what I learned:

WHAT THEY SAID: Poor Bobby Unser, getting picked on by the Forest Service for
inadvertantly taking his snowmobiles no more than 1/4 to 1/2 mile into a
wilderness area in a blinding blizzard.  It was all a mistake, and yet the
mean old Forest Service is hitting him up for expenses and fines!! 

TRUTH COMES KNOCKING: Others tell this story: The way the New Mexico Search
and Rescue people found and saved Unser's life is that they asked his friends
where he was likely to be, and they said he was planning to go into the
wilderness area.  The National Weather Service says no blizzards occured in
this area during the two days Unser was lost.  The Forest Service had to
retrieve Unser's machine from about 5 miles inside the wilderness.

WHAT THEY SAID: I have actually read the testimony given by Ted Nugent before
the House Resources Subcommittee meeting this past Tuesday, which was just
unbelievably incoherent. The papers say he ranted and raved about the Forest
Service being worse than the KGB.

WHAT HE ACTUALLY SAID:  Nugent will never be a great, or even a mediocre
writer, but if you read his testimony it becomes clear he doesn't have a clue
about what is allowed and what is not allowed in a wilderness.  He made no
mention of snowmobiles.  He DID, however, seem to think that Vibram hiking
shoe soles, and aluminum and goretex were somehow prohibited in wilderness.
He seems to think people can't go into wilderness areas and seems to confuse
Forest Service wilderness with parks, assuming that hunting isn't allowed.
Since it is virtually impossible to adequately convey the content of this
document in a few words, I will offer to send it (at my leisure) to those who
would like to peruse the pearls of wisdom here.  My read is that if the guy
had a clue what wilderness actually is, he would be 100% behind it!!

WHAT THEY SAID: News article quoted Kathy Stupak-Thrall as saying she can't
swim in front of her house without a permit because Crooked Lake is mostly in
the Sylvania Wilderness, western UP.  She claims the Forest Service has
ticketed her guests.  Her husband was ticketed for just having an empty pop
can in his boat.  The article claims that no motorboats have been able to be
used on Crooked Lake, since regulations took effect last year.

TRUTH COMES KNOCKING: According to the Forest Service, no permits are required
for any property owner on Crooked Lake to swim in front of their houses.  The
wilderness boundary goes right through the northern lobe of the lake, and the
waters outside the wilderness are open to the same uses allowed on any lake.
Permits are required to enter the wilderness, and the Forest Service
automatically provides the free permits to the property owners every year.  
According to the Forest Service, no guests of the Thralls, or anyone else, has
been ticketed for inadvertantly breaking the wilderness rules for Crooked
Lake.  Ben Thrall, Kathy's husband, reportedly chased down a ranger and threw
cans at him in an effor to get a ticket issued.  Eventually, the ranger
complied, but the full story is hardly a matter of a poor unsuspecting schmo
getting hit with a ticket out of the blue.  
Motorboats, thanks to the second lawsuit filed by Stupak-Thrall in Grand
Rapids after the Marquette judge concluded that the Forest SErvice was in the
right, are still allowed in the wilderness portion of Crooked Lake.  Stupak
Thrall got a restraining order issued by Judge Bell of GR last May,
conveniently just before boating season started in the area, that blocked
Forest Service implementation of the new regulations.  

Most of the others who testified against wilderness were bringing similar,
self-centered tales of woe, objecting to the idea that they should have to
follow the laws and leave this tiny bit of wildness in peace and in nature's
hands. Less than 3% of Mich. National Forest lands are wilderness areas.  This
year also marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Michigan Wilderness
Heritage Act, which designated 10 areas with over 90,000 acres.  Do something
wild in 1997 -- visit a Michigan Wilderness area!!

Anne Woiwode

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