Letter from PCU 7/27/93

People for Compassion and Understanding
POB 27217
Washington, DC 20038

July 27, 1993

Representative Joel Hefley
2442 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: Proposed Forest Service Regulations # 36 CFR Parts 25l-26l

Dear Representative Hefley,

We have had a meeting with your aide Larry Ho Jo to discuss the new amendments proposed to Forest Service Regulation # 36 CFR 25l - 26l.

Passage of these proposed regulations would restrict both our Constitutional Rights, The Freedom of Speech and The Freedom to Peaceable Assembly; in that the Forest Service will regulate the distribution of "printed material" in the National Forest and also require a permit for 25 people (or more) to gather on National Forest land. The land that we thought belonged to all the people!

It is my understanding that Freedom of Speech means the right to freely share ideas. Regulating the distribution of printed material seems clearly an infringement on that right.

Based on what criteria? And at whose authority?

The way the amendments to the regulations read (25l.54 H 1 / 25l.54 F 5), an "authorized officer" shall grant special use authorization to non-commercial groups upon determination that seven criteria are met, and the decision to grant or deny shall be made without "unreasonable" delay.

To us that is stating: any Forest Service officer can grant or deny an application whenever he/she gets around to it.

This empowers the Forest Service with the sole authority to decide who and who does not have the right to gather in the National Forest and/or the leeway to delay the decision beyond the actual date of the event.

In giving the Forest Service this power to disrupt our freedom to circulate literature and peaceable assembly, we lose our right to petition our government for redress of grievances. These basic human rights must be protected!

These regulations are being designed to protect our forest from people and their "possible impacts" when far more destructive special interest industries such as cattle grazing, logging, and strip mining continue to be granted use of the National Forest, often at the cost of entire eco-systems!

Where else can people gather other than National Forest Land??? The first time the Forest Service denies a permit, it will be a direct assault on not only that particular group's First Amendment Right to peaceable assembly; any group (such as large families, church and school outings) will be subject to the scrutiny and whim of individual officials and law enforcement officers.

As we spoke with Mr. Ho Jo and the issues became clearer to him, he was frankly perplexed as to the motives of the Forest Service and curious as to the origins of these regulations. He agreed to call his preferred contacts at the agency and hear their rationale first-hand, and to share his findings with us in a follow-up phone call to your office mid-week.

So--again we ask you to help us STOP these Regulations!

Please familiarize yourself with the proposed regulations, consider their chilling effect on our Constitutional rights, and support our crucial effort to stop them.

We request that your office:
1) Send an aide to attend the Wed July 28th meeting at l:30 pm with Kathryn Way, Assistant Domestic Policy Advisor, Rm 221-A, USDA Administration Building

2) Call Bill Svensen at the Forest Service (202) 205-1407 to oppose the regulations.

3) Call, write, or meet with:
Jim Lyons
Assistant Secretary for the Environment
United States Department of Agriculture, Rm 217
Washington D.C. 20250
(202) 720-3076
(202) 720-4732 (FAX)
and inform him you have concerns about these regulations.

We greatly appreciate the time and energy your office has directed towards this matter thus far and look forward to our continued co-operation in fighting for the Constitutional Rights of all the people.

Very Sincerely,
From our Hearts,

Sandy L. Hanson & People for Compassion and Understanding

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