Skip to main content

This weekend a group of protestors embarked on an illegal All-Terrain-Vehicle ride through Utah's Recapture Canyon. The event was billed as the next showdown in a series of challenges to our public lands and government, a sort of continuation of the failed Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and 80s.  

As with the situation with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy (who owes the federal government more than $1 million in grazing fees - fees that all the other ranchers in the area pay), protesters conveniently ignored the fact that access is actually allowed in the canyon, just not with motorized means in part because two men created an illegal recreational vehicle trail through the canyon, destroying Native American artifacts and sacred sites in the canyon.

While the protesters' intent may have been to take a stand against federally managed public lands, the event actually served to underscore the need for protecting our country's cultural and natural treasures on public lands.

Our public lands belong to all of us. We all share a responsibility to protect these lands for their great beauty and rich history. Every American is part owner of our national parks, national monuments, and other public lands - including Recapture Canyon. They are managed so that everyone can share use and access in different ways. Yet this weekend, the irresponsible actions of the anti-public lands protesters prevented a group of veterans and Navajo faith leaders from participating in a healing event sponsored by the Sierra Club and the Bureau of Land Management in Recapture Canyon. These illegal protesters infringed on the rights of other Americans who legally own and use our public lands - in this case on the rights of those who have fought to defend places like this.  

Despite the rhetoric, breaking the law and crushing important archeological and cultural sites is not patriotic. Ask the veterans who were supposed to be a part of the healing ceremony; they know about patriotism.

The true motivation for much of the effort to "take back" public lands is not actually a love of country, but a love of money and the real force behind selling off our public lands is not the Cliven Bundys of the world, but well-funded, big industry like oil, gas and coal. Behind their populist message is the truth that the only access these special interests really care about is their own.

Efforts to seize federal public lands and lease or sell them to the highest bidder, both locally and in Congress, are not at their heart about improving the visitor experience, but about avoiding environmental protections that would prevent damaging mining, drilling, fracking, and logging. And while a handful of private corporations would benefit from exploiting our public resources, Americans would pay the cost in lost recreation opportunities, degraded water and air quality, and the forfeit of a sustainable outdoor economy. Simply put, a few gain a lot and everyone else loses.

We cannot allow special interests to usurp our public lands under the guise of patriotism and states' rights. America's public lands are some of our country's greatest attributes and are a vital part of both our history and our future. We should not allow special interests to run roughshod over the uniquely American idea of holding places in trust for all Americans. We should all be able to explore, enjoy and pass on to our children the public lands that are our shared heritage.

Originally posted to DK GreenRoots on Tue May 13, 2014 at 01:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site