Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Image result for forest service signsA year ago I posted a story about current efforts in Congress to open up Federal lands (ie Public lands...your lands)  to sale and development.  In March of this year, Congress actually passed an Amendment, SA838.  By itself it does little except express the attitude of those who voted, but the decision was frighteningly narrow at 51-49.  Frightening that is, if you appreciate public land being held for you to enjoy, regardless of income, political affiliation, or any other excuse for discrimination currently still in use in our society.  On the issue of public land we are all equals, and equal stake holders.  Yet there are still those out there who see land left alone essentially as dollar bills lying on fallow earth, and think the rest of us stupid for not seeing it the same way.  They seem to believe that it is right for some to benefit significantly more from our public lands than others, and their greed overcomes any ability to appreciate God's creation, or any sense of fairness in relation to their fellow citizens.  They are like the old sociology experiment where you leave a child alone in a room with a cookie after telling them not to eat it. The results are generally predictable, and, sadly, our elected officials demonstrate all the comprehension and self-restraint of children.
     I wrote the following editorial for my local paper, and include it now in my much neglected blog.

Image result for forest service signsOn March 26th, the US senate passed SA 838, a budget amendment enabling the sale and transfer of federal public lands in a 51-49 vote. The reasoning behind this effort is that the land is mismanaged by the Feds, that some land is "excess," and that the sale could be used to pay off the national debt. With an outdoor industry that generates 6 billion dollars annually and supports 6.1 million jobs, this is an absurd way to reduce the debt, as any business owner can tell you that you don't sell off the tools of your trade in order to pay your rent. Not if you want to stay in business. As an outdoorsman I'd hope that the unique American legacy of protecting wild places for the enjoyment and education of its citizens would continue in perpetuity, and I am simply horrified at this narrow and short sighted proposal.  In a society where very little is available for free, access to public land remains a birthright and refuge that anyone can enjoy, regardless of income level.  It isn't difficult to imagine who would benefit the most from such sales and transfers (sponsors include folks with close ties to oil and mining interests), but it is clear to me that once enacted we will never get those lands back. The problems that are mentioned in the proposals have a basis in reality, but the principle of land being held for the benefit of all is not the problem, and selling it out from under the public is clearly not the solution. Please let your representative know that you oppose such irreversible measures to alleviate temporary problems.
Image result for forest service signs

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