Public Lands for All

It is easy to take our public lands and rivers for granted, after all they’ve been a beloved centerpiece of the American experience for over 100 years. From Forest Service Wilderness Areas, to BLM backyard forests, to iconic National Parks and on through spectacular wild and scenic rivers, our public lands heritage are a source of both cultural pride and economic activity that sustainably generate billions of dollars. Our public lands are also the backbone of ecological sustainability. Our forests sequester carbon, our mountain streams and rivers provide clean water and our wild places are some of the last and best refugia for wildlife.

By any measure National Forests, BLM lands and National Parks are a resounding success story. Want to take the family camping? Odds are you’ll be heading to the public lands that you know and love. Going fishing? You will likely rely on public lands to access that fishing hole. There’s a good chance the clean drinking water that comes out of your tap originated in the public lands that belong to you. If you are a birder, an outfitter, a hunter, a hiker, a photographer, or a botanist, you already know how much our heritage of public lands means to the American experience. Simply put, public lands are our physical connection with the landscape, waters and wildlife of our country.

While most Americans cherish the idea that public lands belong to and benefit all of us, corporate timber, mining and grazing interests have long sought to privatize public lands in order to maximize profits to their respective industries. While subsidized logging, mining and grazing occur on the vast majority of public lands, these extremists bristle at the idea of there being any rules regarding their exploitation of our forests and rivers.

 Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered. I’ve seen lots of funny men; Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen. - Woody Guthrie

Recent over-the-top armed seizures of public lands by armed thugs in Oregon and Nevada have attracted a great deal of media coverage while traumatizing local communities. While the reckless use of fear and intimidation to advance an anti-public lands ideology is troubling, the actions of a few anti-government radicals will not result in the privatization of America’s beloved public lands.

The real threat to our public lands heritage comes from congress and from politicians who are beholding to extractive industries who hope for a public lands giveaway to fatten their quarterly earnings.

Oregon Congressman Greg Walden is at the forefront of the well-funded effort to hand over public lands and waters to corporate interests. His BLM forest bill for western Oregon would put over a million acres of public lands into a so-called “forest trust” that would be run by and for timber companies. Clearcutting would be encouraged, public participation would be eliminated, and streamside logging would skyrocket. Mr. Walden has also proposed a forestry bill that would apply to the entire National Forest system and would severely limit public involvement while stacking committees with industry representatives who stand to gain from the exploitation of public lands. Perhaps even more appalling is Congressman Walden’s proposal to hand over a quarter million acres of the Klamath and Fremont-Winema National Forests to his political allies in Siskiyou and Klamath Counties. We must defend our public lands from these radical proposals.

Love Where You Live, Defend What You Love

Let’s stand with local communities, with wild places, and with each other to show the world what it looks like to love where we live. Our public lands need you.