In Support of Public Lands

I have submitted comments in support of National Monuments through many platforms. I have written comments specific to a single Monument and comments encompassing many Monuments. I have not used the same comment twice. I hope you’ve taken the last 60-day period to do the same.

 

Public lands belong to you. They are a gift to you and your children from administrations that have had the foresight to preserve and protect areas of cultural, historical, ecological, or environmental significance. They provide recreational, educational, and economical benefits to the communities that surround them and, more broadly, are a treasure for all who choose to embrace the gift of public lands.

 

The comment period comes to a close this weekend. If Bears Ears National Monument (which received a much shorter comment window and much attention from parties supporting continued protection as well as those calling Monuments a ‘federal land grab’) is any indication, public support will swing heavily in favor of continued protections. Corporate interests, especially those involved in resource extraction, will argue otherwise. Will the lowly public’s voice be enough? Time will tell. Regardless, be on the right side of this moment in history.

 

If public lands for the sake of public lands aren’t your specific cup of tea, here’s another perspective: Stand up for the Monuments to advocate for continued protections for our natural resources. Money matters. Wealth and the fluctuating economy are huge motivators in this argument for/against these lands.

 

Like the National Forests, public lands are a federal reserve of valuable natural resources. At some point in time, we may need the bounty these lands contain. Now is not that time. Federal resources would be better allocated developing long-term management plans for these renewable (and non-) resources than jumping immediately to the conclusion in 2017, the year that America Became Great Again, that we are in need of harvesting these fruits of preservation. That mindset is short-sighted and frankly irresponsible.

 

 

For more information about which Monuments are being reviewed, what it means for you as well as for America, and what you can do, Modern Hiker has a helpful write-up: https://modernhiker.com/how-to-comment-on-trumps-national-monument-review

 

To submit comments, REI has an interface available: http://blog.rei.com/stewardship/protect-public-lands/ (as does nearly every other organization with outdoor interests, my workplace www.MDLT.org/desert-defenders/ included)

 

 

Here is an example of one of mine, adjusted because I know how turnitin.com works and I assume the government has the foresight to make sure they aren’t receiving copied comments.

 

 Dear Secretary Zinke,

I stand in firm support of the California National Monuments. Though I have advocated for those across the nation, the locations here in ‘the Golden State’–Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, and the San Gabriel Mountains–are of the most immediate geographic significance to me and my community. … These Monuments provide the obvious benefits of open space, fresh air, wild ecosystems, recreational opportunities, and wildlife viewing but they also serve a larger purpose. … Reducing the size of our Monuments at this time is presumptuous and over-zealous. These resources should continue being protected in perpetuity until America is truly in need of the wealth contained therein. In the meantime, federal resources can be better allocated to protecting these places, developing long term management plans that allow for sustainable harvest, and continuing to allow the American people to enjoy their birthright–our public lands. … For these reasons, I stand in support of America’s National Monuments.

Why these? Let me explain the impression the casual first time visitor might leave with. Berryessa Snow Mountain has breath-taking views of sparkling blue lakes, wildflower covered hillsides, and elusive tule elk. Carrizo Plain boasts California Poppy populations that will dazzle your eyes and delight your senses. Giant Sequoia protects a band of rare and ancient namesake trees who grow in very few coastal locations.  Mojave Trails encompases unique Joshua trees and desert tortoise habitat amidst fiery desert sunsets and vast mountain vistas. Sand to Snow contains part of the legendary PCT and allows visitors the chance to travel from arid desert elevations into the snowy heights of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, only minutes from the heat of Palm Springs. San Gabriel Mountains provides authentic forest wilderness to the myriad residents of the concrete Los Angeles basin. These Monuments are each unique spaces that provide entirely different experiences for the fortunate visitor. The visitor spends money in the surrounding communities on fuel, food, lodging, or sundries, and returns home where friends and neighbors are told of what was seen, heard, and felt. They make time to visit as well, also supporting the local economies. In a ripple effect, these Monuments have impacts so much larger than their initial footprint implies. Preserve this opportunity for continued human experience and continued economic growth; at the same time the resources protected within can be perpetuated and sustained until such as time as America deems responsibly necessary. … 

As individuals, we are small and our voices are soft. As a movement, this is large and loud. People care. Don’t assume that you aren’t significant enough as one person to make a difference. Like sticks in a bundle or droplets in a river, we are powerful together. Make a comment. Raise your voice. Stand up for your public lands. Support National Monuments.

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