In the course of spending the past year and a half traveling and exploring the American West, the value of one of the most basic resources we have in this country has made a profound impression on me. My intention with this blog is not to make it especially political in nature. This resource, however, is coming under threat in a way that reflects some of the basic issues at hand in American politics, and in my mind, demands the action of the American citizenry to defend it for future generations.
The American West is comprised of great tracts of public land – mountains, canyons, rolling hills, plains and mesas – all of which not only form the vastness and beauty of the great West but likewise provide the diverse backdrop for recreation of so many types. Whether climbing, boating, camping, hiking, fishing, biking, or any number of other ways Americans get out and enjoy their country, much of this is enjoyed on public lands administered by branches of the federal government through agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, which regulate its use and provide services like fire suppression.
While each of us may have varying views on the ideal role for the federal government, it seems imperative that we understand and value our common assets as a nation and work toward their protection. Modern trends in American economics have seen an increasing number of public resources quietly auctioned off to heavily moneyed special interests in spite of their risks.
Prison systems have been privatized leaving conditions for prisoners to worsen in frightening ways and creating financial incentive for powerful interests to keep incarceration numbers high. Privatized American health care and military industry has long benefitted corporate interests at the expense of the American taxpayer and international relations. Opposition between the interests of the corporate ultra-wealthy and the average American is nothing new.
Last year an armed group of ranchers’ standoff in Oregon garnered unprecedented headlines. Their standoff’s heavy presence in the media worked into a greater narrative in conservative politics to challenge the authority of the federal government’s land holdings, an effort supported by entities like ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate interest lobby group) and mineral extraction interests headed by the Koch brothers (through their lobby group, Americans for Prosperity). Those interests have worked strategically to try and see some of the great tracts of land of the American West handed over to mining, oil and gas interests – one of the most unique American resources exploited for corporate profit.
I ask you to help stop that. Please consider signing this petition, writing your representatives in congress and raising awareness about an issue that’s very important to me. Thank you for your time and effort!
Some further reading: