An open letter to Congressman Rob Bishop
Dear Congressman Bishop,
As my representative, I hope you will take the time to read my thoughts on H.R. 3452 and S. 1883, the SkiLink bill.
The U.S. Congress should not be micromanaging the Wasatch-Cache National Forest and I disagree with the legislative tactics you are using to override the 2003 Wasatch-Cache Revised Forest Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (the WC Nat'l Forest Plan) from Washington.
The WC Nat'l Forest Plan prohibits further ski area expansion in the national forest (see page 4-161 of the WC Nat'l Forest Plan as well as Page 8 of the March 2003 Record of Decision). The WC Nat'l Forest Plan indicates special attention will be given to the scenic integrity of views from the backcountry (page 4-161), minimizes building on ridgelines (page 4-161 again) and does not allow new recreation facility development in watersheds (page 4-69 3.1W). The WC Nat'l Forest Plan makes it clear that efforts will be made to acquire and consolidate, not sell and divide, large tracts of land (page 4-24). The SkiLink bill says SkiLink is "minimally invasive" (page 1), but "minimally invasive" does not square with at least five distinct violations of the WC Nat'l Forest Plan. When it comes to the WC Nat'l Forest Plan, SkiLink is a serial offender.
The WC Nat'l Forest Plan is a complex 476-page compendium that is adaptive and in some ways similar to a zoning document. Variances can be granted without Washington getting involved. There have been nine amendments made to the WC Nat'l Forest Plan since the plan was implemented in 2003, indicating there are local mechanisms in place to amend the WC Nat'l Forest Plan when change is appropriate.
I know you believe in Federalism. I've watched your VIMEO web video where you describe Federalism as allowing Congress to do only those things that are core constitutional responsibilities for which Congress is designed and returning power to local governments and communities where decisions are made closer to the people. SkiLink is not a core constitutional responsibility.
Recent Gallup data indicates the current congressional approval rating is tied at the record low of just 10%. Here's an example why: Talisker, a foreign corporation and special interest, lobbies and receives from U.S. congressmen H.R. 3452 and S. 1883, the SkiLink bill, that carves out special exemptions from the WC Nat'l Forest Plan for Talisker to buy and create a private property holding within the national forest, build a ski lift outside current ski area boundaries, build on a ridgeline, build in a watershed and compromise scenic backcountry views. There's no public input taken and the WC Nat'l Forest Plan is ignored. The SkiLink bill is an all-too-common example of how Congress excludes the public for the benefit of lobbyists and special interests.
It appears SkiLink is being propelled by Talisker's and SkiLink's congressional sponsors' collective disregard for public input, the WC Nat'l Forest Plan and Forest Service expertise. Please withdraw the SkiLink bill. There is no reason that congressmen from, for example, Florida or Illinois should be voting on SkiLink. The legitimate document regulating the Wasatch-Cache National Forest is the 2003 Wasatch-Cache Revised Forest Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement and overriding it from Washington for SkiLink's special interests serves only the special interests.
Talisker should be encouraged to submit its SkiLink plan to the Wasatch-Cache National Forest Service. The people of Utah and the Wasatch-Cache National Forest Service are fully capable of dealing with SkiLink without congressional interference.