H.R. 1581 sucks

“Save me!”

“Save me!”

(Come friend Aunt Ruthie on Facebook and let’s hang out.)

Some weeks back, Auntie Ruth spent a couple of days in Yosemite; like any California-born-and-raised lifer, she’s been there more times than she can count. It’s an unusual fall—there wasn’t much color in the trees yet, but the waterfalls were still a roar, and there were a lot of people there, maybe a few too many for Ruthie’s taste. And, while there’s little that doesn’t grow old on repeat viewings (ever watch a Friends rerun?), there up Highway 140, in one compact valley, are more eternal icons packed shoulder-to-shoulder than anywhere else that comes to mind.

Yosemite, in short, never gets boring, passé, oh that. And it never fails to daunt Ruthie a little—everything is so towering and so old and as you bike in circles around the valley beneath El Cap and Half Dome, even we in our tiny short lives must admit (Carl Sagan said something to the effect of homo sapiens being “so small and so special”) that whatever else is wrong, this is right.

Well, not so fast.

Meet House Resolution 1581. Introduced to Congress by California Republican Kevin McCarthy and co-sponsored by Reps. Dan Lungren, Tom McClintock and Wally Herger—local yokels all—H.R. 1581/Senate Bill 1087 would, if passed, end protection for more than 60 million acres of public lands, including more than 4 million acres in California.

While that California acreage is roughly the size of five Yosemites, it is not the big-name-familiar-destinations like Yosemite that are at risk: targeted areas include beatific stretches of the Sierra Nevada (including the Dardanelles Roadless Area in the El Dorado National Forest), the Bodie Mountains overlooking Mono Lake, and alpine regions like the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and more. All are currently protected from industrial development and off-road vehicle use.

According to the California League of Conservation Voters, only half of our national forests and public lands are unprotected from mining, logging and drilling. H.R. 1581 would release the other protected half to that kind of development.

And that sucks.

Republicans—you can’t live with them, you can’t punch them in the nose. You can’t talk to them and their idea of reason is to stand straight and tall and look away. It wasn’t always like this, but that’s how it is now. Call ’em up and shame ’em to Jesus.