The Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce's Aug. 28 economic development luncheon served as a forum for the discussion of Mountain Area and nation-wide issues including the proposed Merced River Plan with guest speaker Congressman Tom McClintock.
The focal point of the luncheon was government restrictions on the National Parks and their impact on communities like those in the Mountain Area that rely heavily on tourism and logging.
McClintock is an advocate of environmentally safe logging that will not only bolster the economy but will help make the forest a safer place for people and animals by cutting over-growth and creating usable fire lanes that logging operations would create.
"All the excess growth will come out one way or another it will be carried out or will be burned out," McClintock said. "A generation ago it was carried out (by loggers) and the result was a thriving economy, but now we designate this land to policy."
At the beginning of the meeting McClintock discussed the negative effects that will incur by granting federal protection to 1.8 million acres throughout rural California for the Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog and Yosemite Toad. McClintock discussed previous federal species designations, such as the spotted owl, that have restricted the use of land for resources and business. He believes that jobs must come from utilizing resources of the land and allowing business to flourish without restricting land use that will likely not help the frog and toad.
According to a statement released by McClintock on Aug. 6, an economic analysis regarding the federal species designation is expected to be released by the federal government in the fall, and a decision on the designation in 2014.
McClintock hopes by spreading the word and getting more people to voice their opinion the state and federal government will consider the importance and reliance that communities, like those in Eastern Madera County, have on tourism and recreation in the parks.
"I think the first and most important things we can do is sign the catastrophic wild fire prevention act....that restores to the states many of the prerogatives that have been asserted to the federal government over the years."
McClintock reiterated his stance on the importance of keeping Yosemite Valley for "public use, resort and recreation" as was originally intended. McClintock spoke about the original bill passed by both houses of the 38th United States Congress, and signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864, creating the Yosemite Grant.
McClintock made similar statements on the House floor July 1, 2013 in hopes of creating a more economical solution to the ongoing controversy between environmental preservation and public access to Yosemite and other national parks.
"The Merced River Plan would define how the Park Service will manage the Merced River in Yosemite under its Wild and Scenic designation," McClintock said.
McClintock also addressed nation and world-wide issues including:
Voting polls ran by non-citizens
Utilizing the nations natural resource
Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency
The luncheon ended with talks on the importing and exporting of natural resources and how the US economy relies heavily on utilizing those resources to the benefit of the people.
To get more involved, McClintock encouraged citizens to write their local and federal representatives for more information.
The luncheon was held at Sierra Meadows Country Club.