*** FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT For Aug. 27th.
- FINAL ANNOUNCEMENTAUGUST 27th J.A.I.L. BBQ EVENTBrad, the Head of the Washington State J.A.I.L. Chapter,is sponsoring an informal J.A.I.L. event in the State of Washington on Sunday, August 27th. It will be an opportunity for everyone, especially those in the northwestern area of the United States, to gather together and meet one another. There will be a hosted BBQ for this event, compliments of Brad.As a J.A.I.L. promotion, however, the cost of admission to the BBQ will be $9.95 for a high-quality J.A.I.L. T-shirt (dark blue with gold lettering front and back). The T-shirt will be your "ticket" in. The "official" time for the BBQ is 3 p.m., however everyone is encouraged to come early for a social time of meeting one another. Brad says we will be treated to "food that people will never forget!"Ronald Branson, the author and founder of J.A.I.L will be present along with other J.A.I.L. leaders. Anticipated also is the presence of a friend of Branson, U.S. Congressman Jack Metcalf, whom Branson personally came to know in 1982, staying at his home. Also expected are several other legislators and Attorney Doug Schafer, who is running for the Supreme Court of the State of Washington. A professional sound system will be made available for the speakers.Also, there will be a limited space, on a first come first served basis, jet boat ride up the Hanford Reach on Sunday morning. Brad says this might be one of the last chances any of us will have to see this last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River and White Sands Bluffs because of all the federal land grabs and restrictions to the public into this area. (See the detailed news article below describing the beauty which all of us will soon be closed out from enjoying.)We're looking forward to a wonderful time, enjoying one another and seeing God's wondrous nature. Pass the word around and place this event on your websites. This is your final chance to grab the last train out.You must RSVP Brad at baronboy@... for this event so he can properly plan for the numbers attending. If you just can't possibly make it, then contact Brad for your JAIL T-Shirt. He's standing by to fill your orders. Buy several!YA'LL COME -- YA HEAR! SEE YA THERE!Ron Branson
(A Must Read To See What You'll Enjoy or Miss)Clinton Alters West's Landscape
Aug 5, 2000 2:22 PM
RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - Skimming over the waves in his jet boat, Rich Steele gazed upon his beloved Columbia River and flashed a smile that threatened to stretch from shore to shore.
For 35 years, Steele had fought to protect this free-flowing stretch of the Columbia from development. Now, by presidential decree, it had become the Hanford Reach National Monument, and Steele could barely contain himself.
With the wind combing back his silvery hair, he scanned the river, finding delights at every bend: a deer bounding along the shore, a heron launching itself with a squawk from a cottonwood tree, swallows darting from chalky white bluffs.
``Ta-DAAH!'' Steele sang, throwing his arms out wide. ``I've got myself a monument. Pretty spectacular, don't you think?''
Across the West, environmental activists like Steele have something to celebrate these days. President Clinton, trying to carve out an environmental legacy, has created or added to 10 national monuments covering nearly 4 million acres in the West - and administration officials have signaled more may be on the way.
The monuments protect an unprecedented array of natural wonders, from giant sequoias in California to archeological sites in Colorado to ancient ironwood trees in Arizona. The Hanford monument, one of four created June 9, protects
51 river miles of critical spawning grounds for salmon and 195,000 acres of surrounding grass and brush land.
Clinton is relying on the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives a president unilateral authority to create national monuments on federal land to protect ``objects of historic and scientific interest.''
The monument designation, first used by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect the Grand Canyon, can remove land from mining, logging, grazing and other extractive uses that are allowed on much of the nation's 630 million acres of federal land.
Today, more than 100 monuments in 24 states and the Virgin Islands cover about 70 million acres. Even more areas began as monuments but were converted later to national parks by Congress, including Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Glacier Bay, Olympic and Grand Teton national parks.
President Jimmy Carter holds the record for the most land set aside in monuments, having protected 56 million acres in Alaska - much of which went on to become parks and preserves by order of Congress.
In the lower 48 states, however, Clinton has put more land into national monuments than any other president, even Teddy Roosevelt.
Holding press conferences in scenic spots has given Clinton a chance to trumpet positive accomplishments in a presidency soiled by scandal.
``I believe maybe if there's one thing that unites our fractious, argumentative country across generations and parties and across time, it is the love we have for our land,'' Clinton said in January as he created a national monument nearly doubling the protected zone around the Grand Canyon.
But the monument designations have raised controversy of their own. Critics complain that the designations bypass the normal give-and-take of the political process because they require no congressional approval.
``This process has no integrity,'' said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who has filed a bill in Congress that would prevent a president from creating monuments without congressional approval.
``It's a matter of 'If you don't legislate it, I'm going to decree it.' I don't think that's the way a representative republic does it.'' Even environmentalists, as pleased as they are, have expressed surprise at some of the new monuments, since they have been shut out of the decision-making process.
``There certainly is some logic to them once they get announced,'' said Charles Clusen, a public-lands specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, ``but we don't really know a lot about what they're doing and when they do it.''
Clinton and Department of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt consider many factors, officials say: Does the land have a diversity of wildlife? Is it important historically? Is it threatened by development? How strong is opposition to protecting the area? And perhaps most important, is there at least some local support for creating a monument?
Finding grassroots allies has become an important part of the Clinton administration's approach - nowhere more so than along Hanford Reach, the subject of intense debate for decades.
Rich Steele, retired at age 67 from a career making plutonium at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, never guessed he'd be so important to national policy. He just wanted a place to fish. Steele fell in love with the river at age 9, fishing for bass from its banks. As he grew older, he realized how rare the wild stretch of water in his backyard was.
Hydroelectric dams had turned most of the Columbia into a chain of long reservoirs. But here in eastern Washington, in the 51 miles between Richland and the Priest Rapids Dam upstream, the river flowed freely - the only undammed, non-tidal stretch of the Columbia in the United States.
The river and surrounding uplands had been preserved as a security buffer around the Hanford reservation, established in 1943 to make plutonium for America's nuclear arsenal.
Here, salmon and steelhead trout spawned on gravel bars washed clean by the current. Here, a few fishermen and boaters ignored Hanford's nuclear reactors on the shore and focused instead on a riverscape of pure water, sandstone bluffs and a seamless desert sky.
``It was the best of all worlds,'' Steele recalled. ``No one had heard about this place, and no one was doing anything to it. I would have been happy if everybody had just left it alone. But it just wasn't going to work out that way.''
In the 1960s, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it wanted to build a dam on the reach. Steele and others formed a group to defeat the proposal. Later, the same group fought government plans to dredge the river for a barge channel.
In the 1980s, Steele started campaigning to get Hanford Reach protected under the Wild and Scenic River Act, a federal classification that limits commercial development.
Steele gave boat rides to politicians, congressional staffers, journalists - ``just about anyone I thought could help the cause.''
He practiced politics jet-boat style: Lobby guests in the morning while heading upstream in his 21-foot boat, the Can Do II. Then, in the heart of the reach, kill the engine, open the beer cooler and let the river sell itself.
``I always had an unfair advantage,'' Steele said. ``How can you not want to protect this?''
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., fell in love with the place and became one of its biggest champions in Congress. Steele named a beach after her.
As national environmental groups took note of Hanford Reach, momentum built during the 1980s for protecting it.
But local farmers opposed the idea, wanting to preserve options for opening up nearby federal land for irrigated farmland. County officials objected to the prospect of more federal regulations. And Department of Energy officials at Hanford worried that it might affect their operations.
Congress called for a study. Completed in 1994 after six years, it recommended that the reach become a wild and scenic river, with a wildlife refuge along its northern shore.
After five more years of discussion, it appeared that an ad hoc committee representing environmentalists, Indian tribes, farmers and local, state and federal governments was inching toward agreement. Then, in January of this year, the talks fell apart.
Secretary Babbitt, shopping for federal real estate in need of protecting, visited the reach in May. Two weeks later, he recommended to Clinton that the area be made a national monument. A week after that, on June 9, Clinton made the formal designation.
It was more than environmentalists had hoped for - and worse than any compromise plan opponents had seen. A wild and scenic river designation would have protected the river and a quarter-mile strip of shore on each side. The new monument did that and more, adding 97,000 acres to the north of the river
and 75,000 acres already in an ecological reserve on the nuclear reservation.
``All of a sudden, one individual in the United States makes the determination of how that land is going to be protected,'' said Max Benitz, a Benton County commissioner. ``Why do we even have local governments?''
A similar refrain can be heard throughout the West in places where Clinton has designated monuments.
In Utah, county governments are suing the Clinton administration over the 1.7 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, created in 1996. Benitz said county commissioners around Hanford Reach are researching their own legal options. So are county officials in southern Oregon, unhappy with the new Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
Sen. Craig knocks Babbitt's efforts to solicit public input as a pale imitation of the public comment collected before Congress makes land-use decisions. Three public meetings that Babbitt held in Idaho to gather opinions about expanding Craters of the Moon National Monument were the equivalent of ``a drive-by shooting,'' Craig said.
Babbitt remains undeterred in his search for potential new monuments, said Interior spokesman John Wright. Administration officials aren't saying how many more monuments are possible, but Babbitt continues to travel the West, poring over maps and meeting with local residents.
Steele cut the engine, and sounds of the river emerged from the quiet. Whirlpools sloshed and swirled. Two ducks flapped overhead, and Steele started telling about his most celebrated river trip of all.
On June 9, as Clinton signed Hanford Reach National Monument into creation back in the other Washington, Vice President Al Gore toured the reach aboard Steele's Can Do II with Sen. Murray and Washington Gov. Gary Locke. Gore saluted local activists. ``This is a good day,'' he pronounced. Murray was beaming. A few guys from Gore's staff stayed late to party with Steele. He said they hugged him, shook his hand and kept thanking him for what he'd done. ``It was just beautiful,'' Steele said.
Steele recognizes the frustration of his neighbors who think it unfair to trump a local compromise with a presidential proclamation. Then again, ``if I said it isn't nice to win, I'd be lying to you,'' he said. ``I've wanted to beat those folks for a long time. We've been lucky. But I think it's because we just happen to be on the right side.''
With that, Steele reached into his cooler and cracked open a beer, letting his boat drift with the river.
---On the Net: Interior Department site: http://www.doi.gov
Bureau of Land Management: http://www.blm.gov/nhp/index.htm
Natural Resources Defense Council: http://www.nrdc.org
EDITOR'S NOTE - David Foster is the AP's Northwest regional reporter, based in Seattle.* * *J.A.I.L. is an acronym for (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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