November 10, 2006

Stumbling into Brown[']s Canyon

Two Colorado political veterans, Sen. Wayne Allard and Rep. Joel Hefley, have backed a bill creating a designated wilderness area on BLM land bordering the Arkansas River to the NW of here.

The whole Colorado House delegation signed as co-sponsors, and the bill had strong local support.

Into the comment process stepped the National Rifle Association, on the anti-wilderness side.

Big oops.

When it comes to individual liberties expressed through the Second Amendment, the NRA is a powerhouse.

When it comes to public lands management, however, the organization often stumbles, and this is one of those times.

I can't do better than quote Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen, who happens to live in the same county as the proposed Browns Canyon Wilderness:

So why is the NRA opposing this? According to Ashley Varner in the NRA's Washington office, "We feel the bill would drastically reduce access to the area for hunters and sportsmen, especially those who are elderly," and, "Without roads in the area, it would make it nearly impossible to pack out big game." Apparently, the NRA has never heard of pack animals like mules and horses.

This isn't a Second Amendment issue, and it doesn't prevent anyone from hunting in the affected area. So why on earth is the NRA supporting more habitat fragmentation with loud and obnoxious vehicles?

I put the ['] in the title because the Department of the Interior seems to have a problem with possessive apostrophes. "Devils Tower," and so forth.

This reluctance to use proper punctuation is not an affectation of Early Modern English (17th century), but apparently an early-20th-century federal policy.

There was a simplified spelling craze around 1920. In an exhibit of historic college documents at Reed College, I once noticed that for a short time, phrases such as "an office in Eliot Hall" came out as "an ofis in Eliot Hal." But then the college went back to normal spelling.

Bureaucratic inertia is greater in the National Park Service and other such agencies.

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