Opinion: An Uncertain Future: America’s Public Lands

         From a guided ranger hike, to the crackle of a roaring campfire, to the sun just beginning to kiss the peaks of mountains with a radiant orange glow, America contains outdoor adventure from coast to coast. Millions of people across the country and world have experienced treasured moments in our nation’s public lands, national parks, monuments, and forests. While many generations have enjoyed and explored the wild places of our nation, the future of these lands is in grave danger. Drowned out by the endless controversies and drama from the White House, the current presidential administration is quietly waging war on one of our country’s greatest treasures, our public lands. This is not simply a threat from President Trump and his Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the future of our lands is already endangered. As recently as July 24th, the Trump administration went forward with their attempts to cancel the Obama- era Bureau of Land Management’s safeguards for fracking —- a process for extracting oil —-  on publicly owned and tribal lands. Clayton Daughenbaugh, Chair of the Sierra Club Wildlands and Wilderness Team, states, “President Trump’s review of national monuments is part of his larger intent to make oil and gas extraction the top priority for America’s public lands.” This ravaging of our lands cannot be tolerated. Each and every American is an owner of our public parks, monuments, and forests. The devastation that could be brought to them by oil and other industries is not just a death sentence to our country’s natural beauty, “bad news for conservation of natural and cultural resources and bad news for the climate,” as Daughenbaugh puts it. This is an active and ongoing fight that will significantly impact our nation because it threatens what we cannot get back once it is gone. Our country’s beauty, culture, and climate are in danger. We need to realize this before it’s too late. Calling your senator or congressmen and voicing your opposition towards Secretary Zinke’s proposal of the reduction of four national monuments and the opening up of six others to mining, drilling and logging could make a difference for the wild places we love.

By: Jack Duffy

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