Don’t take our Public Lands for Granted
Taking anything of value for granted is dangerous…
A couple of years ago I received a phone call asking if I would support protecting Public Lands. At first I thought it was a joke. I mean really, who in their right mind would ever consider selling off our public land access? The idea was so extreme to my belief that I found it hard to recognize what the threat or problem really was. It would be like someone asking if you support driving automobiles, or should we protect the right to eat Mexican food. Enjoying outdoor recreation on public lands is completely interwoven into every aspect of my life. I honestly could not even imagine not having access to the public places I love, but the threat as I have come to learn is real and should not be taken for granted.
The lands we share are under attack from all sides.
- Federal legislation proposes the transfer of public lands to individual states—who could auction them off to the highest bidder.
- State legislation looks to expand drilling, mining, and logging on public lands—closing them off to other users.
- In states where voters have approved taxpayer dollars specifically for conservation, officials are instead using the money for other programs.
- Politicians are threatening to dismantle the nation’s most important source of conservation funding, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
If these efforts succeed, the damage may be irreversible.
Let me just highlight a real local possibility. Rosemont Reservoir and State Wildlife Area is currently owned by the City of Colorado Springs. Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts hike and recreate around the reservoir each year. But let’s say that we have a couple of bad financial years and our local city government comes up short on providing the basic services we all expect. Strapped for funds it could become a possible solution to sell some of the city’s assets to pay police and fire wages. A corporation poised for just such an opportunity who is looking for a possible water supply and recreation opportunities could make an offer that our city council could not refuse… and with a stroke of a pen our public access to that resource is gone forever.
In today’s world, not standing up for things that matter is a vote against what you believe in.
For this reason, I was happy to join Jim and Elaine Smith from Mountain Chalet, Jennifer Peterson from Rocky Mountain Field Institute, and Becky Leinweber from Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance on July 27th as we marched for Public Land at the Utah state capital in Salt Lake City. Over 3,000 participants joined us last week on this march to stand up for public lands and our access to outdoor recreation.
If you want to add your voice to the conversation and stand up for public land, visit one of these sites:
The Trust for Public Lands
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Owner, Angler’s Covey