Al Campbell, Field Editor

January 7th, 2002

Where Do We Go From Here
By Al Campbell

Where do we go from here? I think we have all heard the cries of the people who say this Republican administration is working to rape the land and steal the environment for big business profits. Indeed, there are some who frequent FAOL who really believe that's the case. If you believe everything you hear from these guys, the environment will be a total loss by the end of President Bush's term in office.

Some of their concerns are valid. We need to be concerned about water quality, salmon runs, toxic waste and other threats to our environment. Runoff from mines and logging operations should be controlled and monitored. Wildlife and wild fish should be a concern we are willing to work for.

On the other side of this discussion are those who treasure the free access to public lands that the Republican Party seems to support. To the chagrin of those who believe public land should be off limits to private enterprise, this administration supports multiple use as most Republican administrations have in the past. That includes access to natural resources considered valuable to our nation's economy or independence, and access to renewable resources like timber.

This view also supports access for handicapped visitors and others who prefer to drive to wild lands or otherwise can't visit public places that are off limits to anyone who can't hike long distances to enjoy it. It supports stream access via roadways for those who wish to fish public streams with road access. In other words, they tend to keep public lands public for everyone. That's something many of us are concerned about.

So, where do we go from here? What side of this discussion are you on? Remember; this is an election year and you'll be asked to support your views with your votes. Are the Republicans going to destroy the environment and economy as some would have you believe? Are the Democrats going to tax everything from those who are willing to work and give it all to those who won't or can't work? Are the Democrats willing to lock up our public lands to anyone who can't afford a guide or hike long distances to access them? I doubt either view is accurate.

Ultimately, this is your choice and mine. We'll make our choices with our votes. We'll base those choices on the facts as we see them and the issues that are important to us, or we'll base our votes on the slant the candidates or media offer. I think there is a little slanting of the facts on both sides. However, there are a few things that weigh heavily on my mind and will impact the way I vote.

I can't forget the US Fish and Wildlife Service scandal under the Clinton administration. I won't forget that millions of dollars designated for fisheries enhancement and access, and paid for by tax dollars imposed on fishing gear, was diverted by that agency and administration into the coffers of anti-hunting and anti-fishing groups like PETA. I won't forget that anti-sportsmen groups and radical environmentalist groups rallied behind Mr. Clinton and the party he is a member of, donating many thousands (actually millions) of dollars to that party and his campaign. They knew what he and his party supported, and it was what they supported too.

I won't forget that the other side has a poor record when it comes to safeguarding the environment. I also won't forget that they aren't always on the side of clean water or fisheries management (salmon runs). I'm not satisfied that they would protect road-less areas from development, especially if that development was industrial. Neither side is a knight in shining armor.

I won't forget those who have supported the things I view as important. That includes those from the Democratic Party who support my views. In other words, I'll pay attention to the issues and who stands for what in their campaigns. I don't vote a straight party line because I believe the issues a candidate supports are more important than the party he/she is a member of. Although I am rather conservative in my views, I have voted both ways before and I'll do so again in the future.

Right now we don't even know who the candidates will be in most cases, but we do know what's important to each of us. I'll be looking at the voting records of incumbents and those looking for a higher office. I'll be checking out who supports each candidate to see if I support those groups or if their supporters are opposed to what I hold dear. (You know, candidates will support those who supported them). By the time the primaries are finished, I'll know who supports what I think is important. I won't rely on the statements of opponents or the campaign promises of candidates to formulate my opinions. I won't let the press tell me who is the right candidate. I'll actually know what these guys support and know if they are worth my vote. And, I'll vote; it's the only honest way to support those who support what I believe is important.

I know where I'm going; but I still don't know where you'll go from here. Do you? ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns
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