Friday, November 4, 2016

For the sake of our public lands, please vote!

I cannot stress how important public lands are for me, and not just for the obvious reason of recreation. If I were never to visit a park again I would still take comfort and joy in the knowledge that the wild places I love are still wild and pristine. Public land is owned by us all; it is the common ground we all can share, and America would not be the same country without its parks and forests. However, all that could change this year.

There has never been an election season in which the fate of public land has so clearly been at stake. In congress over the past 4 years we have seen frequent and terrible attacks on the integrity of public lands by Republicans. Furthermore, they have obstructed attempts to address funding issues for public lands and conservation efforts. They have obstinately fought regulations on climate change - a threat to public lands that has already been responsible for catastrophic wildfires, the loss of our magnificent glaciers, and the disruption of wildlife and ecosystems. If you care about public lands, you need to know that a vote for the right wing is a vote against public land.

A postcard depicting crater lake from around the time
Theodore Roosevelt helped to create the park.              
The sad thing is that the GOP was once a champion of public lands and the environment. Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, among the first and greatest protectors of public land, were both Republicans. What is more, Democrats who held office soon after them also supported the conservation and preservation of public land. Public land was as it should be - a cause free of partisanism. That is not the case today, and in order to secure the sanctity of our public lands for ourselves and future generations we must vote for Democrats - the party that now champions our public lands.

Republicans have long sought to sell our few remaining Old Growth Forests
for a quick buck - could this depressing image from Canada reflect the future
of America's last Virgin Forests?                                                                          
If you’re thinking a third party vote might be for you, think again. Not only are some (such as the Libertarians) worse than Republicans when it comes to public land, but even the ones with good public land policies share a problem common among all third parties - that, due to the way the American political system works, they stand little to no chance of being elected. There is a time and a place to make a stand against the flaws of our system, but that time and place is not at the polls this election day. A vote for a third party in the presidential election is a vote for Trump, and if he were elected the consequences for public lands would be severe.

Fossil fuel projects would be greenlit without question, and all the progress we’ve made towards reducing greenhouse gasses and transitioning away from the dirty energy sources of the past would be instantly reversed. Parks would lose what little funding they have, public land would be sold off to the highest bidder, and you can be sure that no new parks would be made during his term in office!

Clinton, on the other hand, has promised further action to address climate change, and would likely protect many more areas as monuments. If the democrats take the house and the senate, she would sign into law the pro - public land legislation that they would likely pass. With Clinton in the white house and more Democrats in Congress, the Senate, and in state governments, we might finally see our parks and public lands get the attention and care they deserve.

Your vote matters - never let anyone tell you otherwise. Let your love of public land be heard by casting your vote in this election, and by sending letters supporting protecting land preserving it for future generations to whoever wins.

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