“Access” – the new dirty word

Yesterday, I took part in one of the Sierra Cascade Dialogs outside of Sacramento. It was a very well run meeting, trying to get input from all types of forest users in order to help FS leadership make decisions.  We were not overwhelmed with questions and each table had a trained facilitator to assist the table with coming to conclusions. The FS was trying very hard to get our input and we (OHV users) need to participate but I wonder how much our voices were or will be heard.

I came away with two things standing out in my mind. The first was that the anti-OHV groups don’t like the word “access” because it delivers a negative connotation that there are “restrictions” on the general public from the forest. They wanted to twist or turn the conversation as to why there were closures. As if educating the users as to why they can’t drive down a road they’ve used for decades would make it okay.

From this point on, I will use the word “access” as much as possible.

The second thing that struck me was right at the end. The lady who opened the meeting, and facilitated one of the tables, gave some closing statements. She brought up two lists of words, one that the ‘tables’ had used in answering questions put to them asking what they wanted. The second list was words used by the “Line Officers” of the three forests representatives during their statements and while answering questions.

She then circled the words common to both lists. Although every table used the word “access” at some point during the day during their presentations and answers, at no time did the “Line Officers” use the word “access”.

That says so much to me.


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