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Wilderness movement adapts to political landscape

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Felice Pace’s assertion that there is no grassroots wilderness movement in the West is simply ridiculous (HCN, 6/21/04: What grassroots wilderness movement?). We have a thriving grassroots movement here in Colorado, one that long precedes the assistance of the Pew Charitable Trusts. The support of the foundation did not change our strategy one bit — a strategy that has resulted in the designation of four new wilderness areas in the last four years. (The fact that we are not currently receiving Pew funding has also not changed our approach.)

As far as I can tell, "Pew’s strategy" consists of providing support to regional coalitions that have crafted promising political strategies for moving wilderness legislation through Congress. And by the way, this has resulted in over 1.5 million acres of new wilderness in three of the most conservative Congresses in recent memory.

So, please: How about if we spend less of our time sniping at our friends, and more time defending wildlands against the Bush administration onslaught — and maybe even designating more wilderness.

Jeff Widen
Durango, Colorado

The writer is associate director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition.

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