Matt Weiser grossly misrepresents Republican federal lands policy and my leadership of the House subcommittee that oversees it (“McClintock takes gavel, while Yosemite quakes”; Forum, Feb. 21).
Our committee seeks to restore responsible stewardship of our national forests and protect the public’s right to enjoy the public’s lands.
Excess timber is either carried out or burned out. Because of the restrictive environmental laws of the last 40 years, our forests have become dangerously overgrown and are now ravaged by disease, pestilence and fire. Timber harvests on federal lands have declined roughly 80 percent, while acreage destroyed by wildfire has increased concomitantly. The mountain communities of the Sierra that I represent have been economically devastated in the process.
Weiser falsely accuses me of “hand-picking” witnesses to support predetermined conclusions and chortles at the testimony of Dan Gibbs who “didn’t follow McClintock’s script.” In fact, in addition to Obama administration officials, the Democratic minority always selects at least one witness at our hearings, and Gibbs was one of them.
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Indeed, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015 that our committee produced last year passed the House on a strong bipartisan vote that included 19 Democrats. This measure streamlines regulations to prevent wildfire, salvage dead timber and generate additional revenues for the management and protection of our forests.
Weiser is correct that I have strongly opposed banning traditional tourist activities from Yosemite Valley such as ice skating, bicycle and equestrian rentals, river rafting and the shops that serve Yosemite visitors. But I believe he fundamentally misunderstands the reason for our National Parks. It can be found in the original Yosemite Grant Act: “public use, resort and recreation … for all time.”
The pioneers of our public lands understood that preserving them for future generations does not mean closing them to the current generation. John Muir once wrote of Yosemite, “The valley is filled with people … but they do not annoy me.” Weiser and his ideological companions would replace this inclusive philosophy with a highly restrictive policy of “Look but don’t touch.”
Not on my watch.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, represents California’s 4th Congressional District.