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Skiing and Snowboarding : Politics

Opening the Wilderness: Does a New Hunting Bill Put Parks in Danger?

Shutterstock_Kalakutskiy MikhailPhoto: Kalakutskiy Mikhail/Shutterstock

This fall, Hal Herring plans to go backcountry hunting with his son near his Montana home. If they both take an elk, they'll be able to provide the family with enough meat for the following year. But should House bill 4089 pass into law, he's worried that such a hunting trip could be jeopardized. Somewhat ironically, H.R. 4089, the Sportsmen's Heritage Act, is described as pro-hunting legislation.

The bill, which has passed through the House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate, uses language that its opponents—which include wilderness advocates, conservationists and some hunting groups—believe could lead to motorized vehicles being allowed into protected wilderness areas. Other parts of the bill would open the door to hunting and shooting in national parks system lands that currently ban those activities. The bill would also require state approval before the president could declare any new national monument, a move that punches a hole in the Antiquities Act—a legislative tool that has been used to protect many important areas in the past, including the Grand Canyon. 

Road to Ruin?
If the roadless areas in which Herring hunts were open to motorized access the game would be more scarce and the regulations and limits around access would likely become more onerous, he says.

"We need to cease and desist this endless attack on roadless areas and wilderness by people who have no idea what they're talking about," says Herring, who, aside from being an avid hunter and angler, is a journalist. "We already have millions of acres on which to cavort on ATVs. Road access into wilderness means more regulated hunting."

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Chris Sharma Reflects on His Early Climbing Days, Future Projects

Sharma_close_crop_may2012_interviewChris Sharma. Photo: Mary Catherine O'Connor

As we've reported before, California's state parks are in the midst of a crisis that could result in many of them closing on July 1. While the initial list contained 70 parks, many of these have received at least temporary reprieves thanks to infusions of cash from concerned third parties. Others, such as China Camp in San Rafael, are still hoping they can keep their gates open.

Castle Rock State Park, near Santa Cruz, is very close to being spared a July 1 closure thanks to an infusion of $250,000 from the Sempervirens Fund, a land trust organization based in Los Altos, California. The reprieve, which would only mean funding the park for one year and is therefore far from a permanent solution, is just a signature away from being official, says the fund's director Reed Holderman.

Castle Rock also happens to hold a special place in the heart of one of the world's most revered sport climbers, Chris Sharma. A Santa Cruz native, Sharma established many bouldering routes throughout Castle Rock. It was his first outdoor climbing spot. To help drum up support for the park, Sharma traveled to the Bay Area to give four slideshow talks over two days at Clif Bar headquarters in Emeryville and at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz.

The night he kicked off the short slideshow tour, Adventure Ethics spoke to Sharma about the influence Castle Rock had on his early career and how it rates on a global scale.

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The 10 Most Endangered U.S. Rivers of 2012

The Potomac River  Photo: MV Jantzen/American Rivers

River conservancy American Rivers just released its 27th annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers report, naming the Potomac the most threatened river. This waterway earned the top spot not so much due to pollution levels (it’s much cleaner today than in decades past) but due to its proximity to Congress, which American Rivers says is failing to safeguard waterways across the country.

“There are a number of bills in play that would weaken the Clean Water Act,” says Amy Kober, American Rivers’ senior communications director, “which is ironic, because the Act turns 40 this year.”

Other rivers on the list highlight concerns over hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas, as well as  hydropower development. “Fracking is still a big problem, and that has been a theme on the list for a couple years running,” says Kober. Fracking produces wastewater that contains toxic chemicals, and fracking activities have polluted waterways in some areas. 

While it might seem like hydropower is becoming less of an environmental concern in the U.S.—with the removal of major, outdated hydro projects across the West—the group is watching and fighting a number of newly proposed dams on American rivers.

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Traffic Through the Eyes of a European Bike Messenger

Sander Vandenbrouke has managed to make a 19-minute biking documentary that has nothing to do with the issues you might expect in a politically-motivated film about cycling. There are no mentions of climate change, or the cost of petrol, or fitness in The Brussels Express. Instead, he concentrates on the issue of traffic in, what he calls, Europe's most congested city. He looks at urban gridlock through the eyes of a bike messenger who slices through slow-moving cars, and ends up making a smart argument for reducing congestion.

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National Bike Month: Coaxing More Commuters Out of Their Cars

National_bike_month_Vanc_CMCritical Mass in Vancouver. Photo: ItzaFineDay

Last week I visited a friend in the hospital, where she'd been since an SUV had hit her days before. The driver, who turned left as my friend was biking—quite legally—straight through the intersection, broke her tibia, fibula and topped it off with a compound break to her ankle. Then the driver had the gall to declare that it wasn't his fault.

Thankfully, many pedestrians witnessed the crash and informed him, in no uncertain terms, that hell, yes, it was his fault. She had the right of way. And when the cops came, they'd gladly share what they'd seen. The driver changed his story.

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