Wilderness Or My Back Yard?
With all the news about economic "stimulus", bailouts and such, numbers in the millions seem insignificant when billions and trillions are thrown around so commonly. But a couple of million can be a pretty significant amount too, especially when you put it together with acreage.
President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 which created or expanded 2 million acres of wilderness area. Since I have a hard time with such large numbers, here is what I came up with about the size of 2 million acres that makes sense to me...
Dundy County - 921 square miles
Hitchcock County - 719 square miles
Red Willow County - 718 square miles
Furnas County - 721 square miles
Total 3079 square miles
Using the conversion calculator located at http://www.metric-conversions.org/area/square-miles-to-acres.htm , there are 1,970,560 acres in 3079 square miles which is close enough to 2 million to me for a reference as to how big that number is.
Now in the last few weeks, I've driven around a significant amount of Red Willow and Furnas counties, and I can tell you there sure seems to be a lot of land in our southwest Nebraska counties.
So is adding all that acreage to wilderness a good idea? Guaranteed there are a lot of folks that would say yes, but count me out of that group. I've spend hundreds of hours marking wilderness areas for the BLM in California as a volunteer. The original wilderness act stated that wilderness would be created from areas "untrammeled by man", but at least some some designated wilderness doesn't meet that criteria in my book. I've put "Wilderness Boundry" signs in the middle of established roads. In Colorado, one of the newest wilderness areas had to deal with a privately owned irrigation canal... doesn't sound "untrammeled" to me.
Wilderness designation takes away use of mechanized transportation to include bicycles and wheelchairs. If you can't walk or ride a horse, you are not welcome. No resource exploration is allowed. The USDA Forest Service likes to say on their boundry signs "Land Of Many Uses", but I've seen bumper stickers that say "Wilderness, Land Of No Uses" too.
I have a problem with more wilderness designation... the government now seems fit to declare anything they choose to be wilderness without regard to previous use. Having "wilderness qualities" now seems to be the criteria for designation. It was my belief that the original Wilderness Act found the truly wild places in the USA, guess we can just make things up as we go along now.