*** This is an edit, the original was typed on my iPhone and contained spelling and grammatical issues that are beyond embarrassing***
Senator Tillis, Senator Burr, Congressman Meadows,
Gentlemen, I have only had the pleasure to meeting one of you, but I have been at places to hear all of you speak. I know I do not have to talk about your charge for the jobs you ran for. I am hoping that you listen to the constituents that elected you to our representative republic. And even the ones who may not have voted for you. Right or wrong, you got the gig. You are our voices in Washington. And today, I have something that I must say and hope is heard.
Congressman Meadows can tell you that I am one who will not shy away about my opinion. His office and inbox probably has my number and addresses marked. But I think the congressman would tell you that I am not acting from a place of biased emotion or opinion. When Congressman Meadows was elected into office it was at the beginning of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest Plan Revision. That’s how I met him. I set an appointment and met with him to discuss lack of management, wildlife habitat and fuel load on our NF system in WNC.
Since the plan revision process started I have been blessed with 2 sons, and had 2 job changes. A 3 year process has turned into a 5 year cluster. The frustration stems from conservation versus preservation. It’s a tricky situation and emotions run high. Many of us disagree on how to manage the land. Some think wildlife habitat is a back door land grab for timber. Some think the pursuit of wildlife is barbaric. It is frustrating to say the least, but it is a disagreement I consider myself lucky to have. I differ in views of many of the forest users but I am beyond united with them on one front; our access to public land. They may not like a clearcut, may think fire is evil and they probably don’t like me. And I am cool with that. I want to have these discussions, I want to have these disagreements. It’s truly American.
Im sure you are all students of Teddy Roosevelt. A man of your own party who started the public lands. He envisioned lands for multiple use, a place for anyone to utilize and enjoy Gods creation. The strides he made for conservation of our natural resources and wildlife are second to none. I am beyond indebted to him and others from his time. I will not launch into a history lesson as you have undoubtedly already received from various individuals. Public land ownership is, in my opinion, one of the most truly unique and amazing things about our nation. The ultimate disdain for tyranny is that there is no ruler, and there is no warden who watches the “Kings deer”. My sons are a part of a conglemorate of fellow citizens who own 640 million acres that are held to be managed by different agencies. As a young man who grew up with no family who owned land or the means to access private land, this resonates to the depths of my being.
The issues of public land management are complex, there is no denying that. It requires utilization of science while also being restricted by legislation and then public input/comments. It’s tough, frustrating and makes those of us who live in the vicinity of federally managed land feel left out of the process. I know what that feels like. The feeling of being labeled as some “Hillbilly” who just wants to shoot the woods down, by an individual who vacations here is one we have been dealing with for a while. The lack of regard for sound science based management due to public misconception and legislation has driven many of us to wish for a drastic change.
But that change is not reflected in H.R. 621. H.R. 621 is, in my opinion, a result of disdain for responsibility and duty. Instead of looking at what is needed and how we accomplish this, someone listened to a snake-oil salesman and jumped to the “Let’s sale it” conclusion. When the going got tough the answer was “Let’s not find a solution, let’s just get rid of the problem.” Or, at least what has been deemed a problem. The ownership of the land is not a problem. Sure, its cumbersome and just another thing the budget needs to address. But, its my land. It’s my neighbors land. It’s your land. But most importantly, it’s my children’s and their childrens’ land. And I cannot go with something that limits their pursuit of happiness.
I ask that you gentlemen utilize the expertise of countless women and men across our nation to address the concerns we have on public land. I’m just a blue collar that works in the public sector. I don’t have a lobbyist up there. Those like me don’t have lobbyist up there. We know there is a lot of money pushing this. I don’t believe the price they are offering is worth failing our obligations to future generations.
Gentlemen, I’m just another constituent that your represent in our representative republic. This is my opinion and my thought. Please think before you act and I urge you to not cast any vote for H.R. 621.