Letter: Protect public lands | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Protect public lands

In the words of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, in the Billings Gazette (“Republicans must return to their conservation roots,” 12/2/15): “Republican President Teddy Roosevelt was so inspired by the beauty of our nation that he preserved more than 230 million acres of public lands, much of which would become part of our National Forest and National Parks systems.” Unfortunately, today Roosevelt’s legacy is under attack by his own party.

In July, the Republican National Committee approved a national party platform that endorses the disposal of federal public lands. Then, on the first day of the 115th Congress (in January), as promised, House Republicans took aim at the former president’s legacy. As part of the resolution setting the rules for the new session, members voted to make it easier to transfer federal land to states or local governments.

As explained by the Redding Record Searchlight’s editors (in “Don’t transfer the land, fix the failures,” 1/11/17): “The rules change basically says such land transfers can be viewed as costing the federal government nothing. As it stood before, the House rules would have required a cost accounting and then any such proposal would have to include offsetting cuts elsewhere in government. Sportsmen’s groups … oppose transfers. One of those most vocal is the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers — and Donald Trump, Jr. happens to be a member.”

Across the U.S., Americans decisively reject the idea of selling off public lands: Polling from after the 2016 election showed that 78 percent of Americans oppose efforts to privatize or sell public lands, including 64 percent of Trump voters. Clearly, we should not be so fast to dismantle Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. Interior Secretary Zinke seems to agree, and said (in the Billings Gazette): “It’s time for Republicans to return to our conservationist roots.”

David Lien
Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

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