Thoughts on Preserving Federal Lands

yellowstone-4On March 1, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the U.S., signed the bill creating Yellowstone National Park, America’s first and the world’s first such place, “set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” This move was intended to protect Yellowstone with its natural geysers, river canyons and waterfalls, from becoming commercialized by private profiteers as Niagara Falls had been turned into a “circus of amusements”.  In addition to providing benefit and enjoyment for the people, public lands shelter wildlife and provide watersheds that provide clean water to millions of people.

As the world becomes ever more over-populated, and large corporations seek even higher profits, there comes a call to remove large portions of land from federal protection.  There are a number of federal agencies that are tasked with protecting the approximately 640 million acres of federal, or public land in the United States, including:

  • National Park Service.
  • Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Bureau of Land Management.
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
  • Bureau of Reclamation.
  • Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement.
  • Geological Survey.

Amid calls for selling public lands, or turning them over to the states to decide their fate, environmentalists are horrified at the thought of these lands being opened for mining, timbering, ranching and commercialization.  In January, in one of his more lucid moments, Donald Trump told Field & Stream magazine that he opposed divesting such holdings because “I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do.” If he were to stand by that, it would be one of his better positions.

yellowstone-2.jpegHowever, this week the news from Trump Tower is that he plans to nominate Cathy McMorris Rodgers as Secretary of the Interior, a move at odds with his earlier assertion. Rodgers is strongly in favor of developing the United States’ fossil fuel resources. She has also opposed federal ownership of public lands and voted to make it more difficult for the president to create national monuments. Rodgers, a U.S. Representative of the state of Washington, is the author of a bill that would have directed the Department of the Interior to sell off federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Rodgers has repeatedly voted to limit or repeal key Obama administration climate and environmental regulations. She has also voted to expand offshore drilling and to stop the Interior Department from regulating hydraulic fracturing in states that already have their own fracking rules. On climate change, Ms. Rodgers is on record as saying, “scientific reports are inconclusive at best on human culpability for global warming.”

yellowstoneWhat exactly are federal, or public lands?  They are lands owned by you, me, and the other 319 million people in the U.S. They are there to be enjoyed by all, certainly, but also the protection they are afforded is crucial to the preservation of wildlife and the environment.  I don’t know about you, but I rather like knowing there are places left in this nation where we can go to “get away from it all” and enjoy nature.  We do not need more corporate structures, office buildings, factories, amusement parks and the like.  And we certainly do not need more mining and drilling operations decimating the landscape, destroying water resources and adding to the pollutants in the air.

The nomination of Cathy McMorris Rodgers is yet another of the “worst possible choices” Trump has made for his expanding list of advisors and cabinet members.  Once again, we must hope that Congress as a legislative body will make at least a few wise choices and deny Trump the right to destroy our nation by surrounding himself with those who intend more harm than good.

mined land.jpg

Once a beautiful mountain where trees grew tall and wildlife roamed free, this is how it looks after strip mining

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Preserving Federal Lands

  1. Pingback: Nomad Advocate

  2. What makes you think National Parks will ever be touched? Sounds like a little over-reacting to me. I’m sure the appointment of Cathy Rogers goes deeper than that.

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  3. It really looks like America needs a megaphone so it can shout NO loudly enough when he rapists approach. It’s rare that rape is arranged by someone else which it certainly seems to be since Trump was voted in. I do hope plenty of people are recording the taunts ready for payback some day. I think you may find an awful lot of Politicians (or a lot of awful politicians) moving abroad at some stage.
    It will be criminal to see the Country as one huge strip mine.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs xxx

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