Snowmobilers and enviros craft compromise plan for wilderness in California

A deal to set aside thousands of acres of wilderness near Yosemite National Park has been crafted by an odd alliance of snowmobilers, greens, and local officials. By agreeing to stay off 40,000 acres of public land, snowmobilers would receive unfettered winter access to 11,000 acres nearby. “I told people, ‘If you’re not unhappy with something here, then you didn’t give up enough. … But you should also feel like you got something that you couldn’t get through any other means,'” said Mono County Supervisor Duane “Hap” Hazard (clever!), who led the negotiations. A bill that would put the plan into law, sponsored by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), is backed by California’s two Democratic senators and the Bush administration, and would provide a happy ending to a 20-year stalemate between conservationists and outdoor recreationists. The bill is expected to get a hearing in the House this month, but its progress will depend on Resources Committee Chair Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), who’s being coy about his intentions — his friendship with McKeon may yet cancel out his instinct for villainy.