Opponents of releasing the Bodie Hills from Wilderness Study Area status got their way on Tuesday, but so did supporters in a way, when the Mono County Board of Supervisors took no action on a resolution drafted by the Bridgeport Valley Regional Advisory Planning Committee that expressed support for a sweeping piece of legislation making its way through nation’s capitol.
Sponsored by District 4 Supervisor Tim Hansen, who took over the gavel as acting Chair for the agenda item, the RPAC’s resolution supported the release of the Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area as well as HR 1581, a bill that would release all Wilderness Study Areas and Inventoried Roadless Areas across the country that have been recommended or evaluated as not suitable for wilderness by the Bureau of Land Management.
Introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), HR 1581 would only release land deemed not suitable for maintaining WSA status, but that translates to the release of more than 6 million acres of wilderness study areas (WSA) that the BLM claimed in the 1980s, had wilderness characteristics but were not recommended as suitable for wilderness designations. The determination was made after considering local input, mineral potential and mining claims, among other issues.
The legislation would also require the Forest Service to lift protections on some 36 million acres of inventoried roadless lands that it has not recommended Congress designate as wilderness, according to the Bill’s sponsors.
Opposition was plentiful at Tuesday’s meeting in the Bridgeport Courthouse, though several interesting supportive comments did catch some supervisors’ attention. In the end, however, the Board did not back the RPAC’s resolution, largely on grounds that it was a national piece of legislation into which Mono County had no business sticking its nose. The RPAC, however, was left to forward a letter of support on its own initiative, should it so choose.
For more on this story, pick up a copy of the print version of The Sheet, on newsstands Friday.