Friday, April 8, 2005

North Fork American Land Acquisition

(an open letter to District Ranger Rich Johnson of Tahoe National Forest)

Hey Rich, you wrote,

"GOOD NEWS!! See attached news release. rich j."

Thank you very much, Rich, for your fine efforts!!!

In that press release, you were quoted as follows:

"This parcel completes our efforts with SPI to protect this truly wild river ... ."

The press release does not make it clear, but I presume the 640 acres in question is Section 21, T16N R13E, near the confluence of Big Granite Canyon and the North Fork, which includes a portion of the Big Granite Trail. Incidentally, the ca. 1875 GLO map of this area has the legend "Rough Barren Mountains" centered over Section 21. And for this we paid $700,000, and that, *after* SPI helicopter-logged the section?

I strongly object to the idea that "This parcel completes our efforts." Our efforts should by no means be "completed" by this acquisition. This "completion" is based upon the pathetic notion of a Wild & Scenic River "corridor," defined by Congress to extend a quarter-mile to either side of the center of a given river.

Here we have the one and only American River Canyon. It is Placer County's Yosemite and might very well become a National Park. Does the great canyon extend only 1/4 mile to either side of the North Fork? No. Do the trails which give access to it extend only 1/4 mile to either side of the North Fork? No. Do the amazingly beautiful views from scenic overlooks up and down the canyon extend only 1/4 mile from the river? No.

For instance, the Big Granite Trail has already been damaged by SPI and another lumber outfit, CHY, on lands to the north of Section 21. The Sugar Pine Point Trail has been well-nigh obliterated by SPI in nearby Section 17, for instance. But they are not through ruining our heritage.

So, Rich, to me, anyway, it is silly to talk about "completing our efforts." There is very much more land, many thousands of acres, which I believe must be acquired by TNF, if the true extent and ambience of our wild heritage, in the American River Canyon, is to be preserved for future generations. To name just a few areas:

1. Snow Mountain.
2. Wildcat Point (Section 31, between Wildcat and Wabena canyons).
3. Sugar Pine Point, Four Horse Flat.
4. The North Fork of the North Fork.
5. Between the Royal Gorge and The Cedars.
6. Green Valley.
7. Rawhide Mine.

So, it's not time for "Job well done; now we can relax," but rather, "Job underway, but we must both increase the pace, and broaden the scope, of land acquisitons in and around the American River Canyon."

Thanks again,

Russell Towle

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