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Even though this headline statement is bold and can be said to be all too common and nothing new, does that make it the right? The correct answer is and should be NO! The truth, especially the truth with physical evidence to back it up, should prevail in any argument.  The case can be made with photographic proof that the U.S. Congress has been given false information regarding the true status of Public Lands designated by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management as “Roadless”, Wilderness Study Areas, and even Wilderness. Following passage of the Wilderness Act of ’64, congress set the public land management agencies to work identifying every parcel of land 5000 acres or larger with “Wilderness Qualities”.  That would seem a noble goal on the surface. The Problem Where the Congress went wrong is that they did not set the proper parameters and definitions for the land managers to follow… a practice still too often used even today. This search for “Wilderness Quality” lands became primarily a quest to identify “Roadless” areas.  The major problem with this process is that there was never any definition of what a “road” might be.  For 47 years, land managers have had no idea what a “road” is.

What Is A Road? You might think everyone would know what a road is. That it would be common knowledge.  You would be wrong. Without firm definitions, interpretations and prejudices come into play. When you turn people lose to do a job without proper direction, the end product will often not be what you had in mind.  This is clearly what the Congress accomplished with these studies.  They left the doors wide open to “interpretation and prejudices”. The proponents of Wilderness were quite clear in the Wilderness Act.  What they were looking to create and preserve were lands with the qualities spelled out in the act.  The original Wilderness Areas had and still have those qualities.  Sadly, many of the more recent additions to the Wilderness inventory do not come even close to those ideals.  Public Lands of lesser qualities are being added by Congress nearly every year, thereby degrading the concept of designated Wilderness. Proof Positive of Deception Concrete proof of these accusations can be garnered by a physical inspection of the lands in question. One solid piece of evidence relates to the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area in western Colorado.  The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 designated this area as Wilderness. This area had gone through all the processes of being inventoried as “Roadless” and of Wilderness Character.  Like any such area, that designation was given with the understanding that all those factors existed.  The definition of “assume” applies. When Does A Road Cease To Exist? The most blatant proof that at least some of this area was undeserving of the designation is the road that goes into the northern end of the area in question.

UFWDA Voice Sept 14  
UFWDA Voice Sept 14  

The quarterly magazine of United Four Wheel Drive Associations Inc., an international organization advocating for 4WD recreation.