During my presentations, many are surprised by the loose protections of our public lands. They should not be surprised – they should be alarmed!
President Roosevelt was a visionary who looked far ahead in the future and decided that he had a moral obligation to do his best to protect our wilderness areas so that future generations could enjoy them. The first step was meeting with Congress to persuade them to expand our National Parks. During his time, the number of Parks would double, but not all of those parks still exist. In fact, 2 out of the 5 he signed into law no longer function as “National Parks” but rather have been reassigned to different categorization. In fact, our 2nd National Park, Mackinaw Island, no longer exists as a National Park at all. What Congress creates, they can take away. They can, and given the chance, they will. They will because they will look at the value not for it’s beauty but rather the resources under the grandeur. The only people who can potentially stop it are the owners of the land – you and I. The only way we can do so is by being vocal to our representatives. They do listen. It’s your vote that employs them.
Roosevelt understood that Congress wasn’t saving the land faster than those looking to grab the resources. Because of this, the Antiquities Act of 1906 allowed the President to declare certain land already owned by the government special status as a National Monument. The idea was to protect them for all future generations. This past week I was in Washington D.C. to listen to a group of lawyers, a Senator and Congressman who are fighting to undue the Antiquities Act. It is a shame that these people cloak their actions on behalf of a privileged class into a fight to undue “Big Government”.
What we sometimes fail to understand about “Big Government” is that many times it became big because there are people who chose to either bend, test or break the rules. Each time that happened, new laws or nuance in the law needed to be created to curb the abuse. There will never be a lack of those who see their duty on earth to test the rules for their personal interests. It is happening now, and your voice is needed if you cherish your public lands.
Do not be swayed by headlines. Be swayed by your conscious to protect our public lands for the next generations. “For of all the questions that can come before our great nation, there is none that compares in importance to the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us” Theodore Roosevelt.