It is astounding that I even had to write the piece below to defend our public lands, but such are the times we find ourselves in today. The current U.S. political administration wants to rescind more than two dozen national monuments. These are places that had already been “saved” for present and future generations.
I encourage all of you who care about public lands to make your opinions known: https://legal-planet.org/2017/05/10/public-lands-watch-comment-period-on-national-monuments/
Otherwise, as Joni Mitchell said in her song lyric: “you won’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
My letter to the Department of Interior:
One of the things I am most proud and patriotic about is our public lands. Public lands are our sacred lands. They are our most important natural, cultural and historical places. Conceived by Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot for the benefit of all, they represent a profoundly forward-thinking approach. It speaks well of us when we seek to protect our public lands; it speaks poorly of us when we seek to destroy them for short-term economic gain.
We were all horrified when we heard about ISIS intentionally destroying historic and religious landmarks in Syria. Now our administration proposes to do the same in the name of quick cash for oil, gas and mining.
I visit on average more than 25 different public lands per year. My livelihood depends upon them. So too do the economies of most western states that have tourism as one of their top industries. Millions of Americans who hunt, fish, hike, ski, bird-watch, bicycle, ride trails on motorized vehicles, botanize, study geology, learn about our history and culture, honor their relatives or just get away to enjoy the peaceful, beautiful places we are blessed to have — all cherish our public lands. I lead tours for groups of Americans as well as people from other countries who come here to see our amazing public lands. They are in awe of them and inspired by our enlightened efforts to safeguard them.
As Montana-based author Rick Bass said: “These lands are our outdoor churches, our cathedrals — and keeping them that way is the real economic foundation of the West. Open spaces attract new, high-paying industries and yield billions of dollars in tourism and recreation. When we are young, we hunt, hike, fish, camp, backpack, paddle, horseback ride, walk, run, raft and bicycle on our shared lands, and when we are old we stare out at their undiminished beauty.”
I am completely opposed to any effort to compromise our public lands. Public lands are American birth rights. They make our country special and are the envy of the world. We need to conserve not destroy them.
“Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.” Teddy Roosevelt