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Protecting California's Desert Areas

August 06, 1988

All the controversy surrounding the death of the California desert bill authored by Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) has failed to point out two inescapable facts: 1) The California desert is a rare and valuable resource that should be protected and enjoyed by all Californians. 2) Not all Californians want to enjoy and protect it in the same way.

Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) sought to balance these competing interests and reach a compromise, but Cranston wouldn't listen to any compromise; nor would the Sierra Club. There was a time when the Sierra Club sought to protect the environment for the enjoyment of everyone. Now all it does is engage in partisan politics.

I'm not saying we should throw open our wilderness areas to ATVs and dune buggies, but we should recognize, as does Wilson, that all Californians deserve some access to our natural wonders. The fact of the matter is that Wilson has always fought hard on the side of the environment and conservation, but he's also recognized that you can't treat California's resources in a vacuum.

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Los Angeles

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