On the Threats to Public Lands

Eagle Cap Morning-8x11XIf the pen is mightier than the sword, it’s time to write in defense public lands.

The Trump Administration draws fixated attention for its prejudicial policies and pronouncements on human rights, immigration, and the economy.

But its most disastrous actions are its irreversible damage to our national treasures — public resources and public lands– in pursuit of private profit. Offshore drilling. Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to mineral and energy exploitation. Denial of climate change and the consequent increased greenhouse gas emissions. Withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Shrinking protection for life-sustaining ecosystems and waters, and the invaluable cultural heritage of public lands.

Given the success of the Bundy’s assault on federal management of rapacious grazing, and the ultra-conservative Right’s intention of privatizing public lands, restricted public access to USFS, BLM, and other federal lands is probably somewhere on a back-room table. And placing Federal lands in private hands is probably right next to it. Look for those to emerge in the second Trump administration.

We are an increasingly urban society. Few who live in New York City or Los Angeles, or for that matter, Beaverton or Gresham, ever venture far from pavement. Open “vacant” spaces, can seem mildly threatening. Useless. Superfluous. In fact, a drain on public coffers.

We have no visible, vocal public lands champion in public office, either. No Stewart Udall. No Teddy Roosevelt. No-one who comes to mind. Environmental organizations seem to have lost their clout. Environmental advocacy lies tepidly on the national back burner.

While we dither over immigration policy, real disasters to ecosystems, and to the future of public lands, are ongoing, a creeping plague that eviscerates the American future.

So: Each week, this column will examine issues and search for ways to engage American’s once more with their Public lands. Stay tuned.

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