Republican platform will give up public lands to private profits

July 16, 2016 by ebanderson123

The Watson Lakes in the Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness Area, in this photo by Thomas Bancroft, was signed into law by President Reagan.  Republicans have frequently supported national parks and public lands in the past.  The new radical right 2016 Republican platform proposes selling out federal lands and even more logging of national forests.  The idea that private enterprise would serve and protect the public good cannot hold up for a minute when we consider how a few powerful individuals and corporations have repeatedly gobbled up resources for private gain at great cost to our quality of life, economic stability, and a sustainable future for our nation.  The 2016 Republican platform states that public land and water controls in the West could be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry.  Clear-cut mountainsides, strip mines, and loss of habitats and ecosystems are disguised with statements such as “Timber is a renewable natural resource.”   In the Northwest, we have only to step outside to see how important public lands are to all of us.  Profiteering will not protect our state and national heritage or use resources wisely.

Republican platform: Sell off public lands in the West, log national forests

FORESTThe drafters of the national 2016 Republican platform marked the anniversary by calling for a mass sell-off of federal lands in the West, and stepped-up logging in national forests.


The platform is a kind of Theodore Roosevelt-in-reverse document, which renounces even policies of Ronald Reagan.
Using the 1908 Antiquities Act, Roosevelt created national monuments in spots like the Grand Canyon and the Olympics where state and territorial governments were beholden to mining companies and timber barons.

The 2016 GOP platform would require that national monuments be approved by both Congress and state legislatures.

Roosevelt used his pen to create national forests across the West as a means to preserve public lands from corporate plunder.  He expanded the national park system — the idea that America gave the world.

The 2016 platform would turn public lands back to private interest. In its own words:

“Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining or forestry through private ownership.

“Timber is a renewable natural resource, which provides jobs to thousands of Americans.  All efforts should be made to make federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service available for harvesting.  The enduring truth is that people best protect what they own.”

The people are already protecting public lands, witness public support when President Obama designated the San Juan Islands National Monument.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness — recently expanded with support from Republican Rep. Dave Reichert — was created thanks to a public movement that overcame ferocious opposition from the timber industry, its public relations apparatus and its lawyers.

The Republican platform sure won’t help the man atop Republicans’ 2016 statewide ticket — gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant.

The former Seattle Port Commissioner is out with his first TV spot.  It displays shots of public lands — Mts. Rainier and Shuksan, a waterfall past which Bryant is hiking, a stream in which Bryant is fishing — and touts Bryant as “a governor who is a conservationist.”

Republicans have helped give us treasured places:  Ronald Reagan signed the Washington and Oregon Wilderness bills, and legislation creating the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area.

But very different Republicans are now in charge.

Dan Evans used money from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to preserve parks and recreation lands across Washington.  He is cofounder, with ex-Democratic Gov. Mike Lowry, of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition.

Back in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, the GOP-run House took up a bill that slashes the LWCF by 30 percent.

Don’t do this, “This really matters,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., opposing the cuts.

“We’ve seen hundreds of projects in our state as a result of this critical program,” Kilmer added.

Do we want to go down a path flanked by clearcuts, gouged by  mines, and decorated with “Keep Out!” signs by the new private owners of the people’s domain.


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