Land of the People- Letters to America
I fell in love with public lands because of the silence. To be in a place that's just rock, sky and water is affecting in a life-changing way.
I will do my part in defending access to these sacred places so my daughter can someday stand in a slot canyon and wonder, as I did, how many people before her felt so small and so at peace in that very spot. Few things in life are permanent. We must protect the right to be in the places that remind us of that.
-Gin A. Ando - Columbus, OH
Its quiet simple we were born and raised in the wild lands and its only through evolution that we have ended up living in house and condos in towns and city. Being at one with our surroundings is in our DNA that is why when we hike or trail run or kayak down a river we feel more centered and at peace, we are re-connecting with our history and with our love for the outdoors. I think we have too easily given in to the corporate existence and so the corporations dictate our lives and ravage our lands. Nestle paying next to nothing for natural water, pulling coal and oil from the ground when renewable s can and do work. The public lands are the last frontier, last vestiges of true wild lands which impact are mind and soul and body, to not protect these lands would be criminal we would be giving up on ourselves, our planet and future generations.
- Mike P.
The concept of free public land is slowly feeling more like a theoretical thought process. With recent activities in the United States it feels as though nothing is truly free and that everything has a cost. You look around and budgets are being cut for wild life preservation.
If you would have asked me this question a couple months ago, my answer may have been a little more jaded. But with the birth of my first child, free public lands means my daughter with enjoy running through fields of flowers, skipping rocks in the crick, truly understanding the nature and how we all fit into this world.
The concept of free public land no longer can be just a concept to me, because I truly want my daughter to experience all the beauty nature has to offer.
I live a conservative life, I do not purchase a lot of things, I live in a modest house, I drive a modest car, I buy local American made goods anytime it is possible. I do this because I want to raise my children to fully appreciate the things they do own and the places they come from. I'd like them to recognize that experiences on this planet are often more profound and more powerful than any new toy or tech. I want them to realize America is one of the most beautiful, accessible, and free places on the planet. Thus it is with my deepest hopes that we as a country will continue to support wild places and public lands. So I, as a father and as an American, can allow them to run under the spacious skies and show them the meaning behind purple mountains majesties.
Let's not forget the second verse of America, the Beautiful
"O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!"
Meaning, only across the wilderness by foot can we realize the perfection of freedom, of liberty, and of even divinity. Self control, thy liberty in law. Please keep these lands free, keep them wild, so I can raise the Americans of tomorrow.
Eamonn Powers - High Ridge, MO
Our public lands are important to me because they are ours. They bring a sense of community to users while providing solitude and adventure to the individual. On the trails life’s circumstances don’t matter; everyone is invited and included. In a divided world we need to protect our public lands to give ourselves and those who follow the chance to come together with others, the chance to explore, and the chance to realize they are a small part of something much larger that connects them to all who enjoy these lands.
When I was a kid, we took summer trips out to the US Chihuahuan desert, such as Big Bend National Park and State Park, as well as Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument in Southern New Mexico. This was during a difficult time for me: my parents had divorced and my (soon-to-be) step-father was an undiagnosed PTSD Vietnam Veteran with a mess of psychological problems. Essentially, he took out all his anger, anxiety, and stress on me.
I tell you this because these trips we made to the desert national parks and national monuments were the only place I found peace. These were grand spaces, beautiful and strong, quiet and open. These were MY churches to talk with God, built directly by Him for this very purpose. Now, these natural churches are threatened by the current administration's rollback policy review.
Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which is first of the natural churches on the list for this “review,” is a textbook example of the priceless historic, cultural and natural wonders that are protected as National Monuments. Protecting 100,000 archaeological and cultural sites as well as stunning mesas, canyons and arches and incredible outdoor recreation spots, these treasures are *irreplaceable*. The designation and boundaries of the monument honor the voices of five sovereign tribal nations who joined together to seek protection of their shared ancestral lands and traditions. Bears Ears National Monument should remain protected permanently.
Additionally, an attempt to attack one monument by rolling back protections would be an attack on them all. Sending a signal that protections for our shared history and culture are not permanent would set a terrible precedent. This would discourage business investment and community growth around all national monuments while also sending the signal that our history and natural wonders are negotiable. National monuments have already been shown to be tremendous drivers of the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy and businesses in gateway communities rely on the permanency of these protections when making decisions about investing in these communities. Whether at Bears Ears or other monuments across the country, our national monuments should remain protected for future generations to enjoy. They are a gift that belongs to all Americans.
I am firmly opposed to any effort to revoke or diminish protections for National Monuments and I urge you to support our public lands and waters and recommend that our current national monuments remain protected.
"How do you measure a thing's value? Some will tell you that value is added only when money is put into your bank account or the jobs that it will create or some vague notion of prosperity for everyone. For these reasons, they may think that the energy locked away beneath the land is more valuable than the land itself. While jobs and money and energy to power homes and cities are certainly important, losing public access to land for a temporary short term gain simply does not make sense to me.
When I was young, I realized just how valuable these public natural places are. Sure, it never grew my bank account but I saw it's value in a much more intangible and real way. I saw nature's ability to help bring my family together in a way we couldn't when we were all at home and juggling different schedules and sitting in front of screens. I saw the lands value when we we were sitting by our camp site on the lake and listening to the loons calling to each other. I knew it's value when my grandfather taught me how to fish and I sat there along with my brother and sister waiting for a fish to take the hook. Those vacations when we'd all go hiking or my dad and I would take out a canoe and paddle along the water were some of my fondest memories.
Without public lands, we wouldn't know our own value. These lands show us the courage within ourselves to keep putting one foot in front of the other or to reach just a little more for that next handhold when we're tired. They show us the value of slowing down and simply appreciating how the trees sound as the wind blows through them. They teach us how to appreciate nature for what it is and to move through the wilderness harmoniously. This is why public lands are important to me.
Bears Ears National Monument is ecologically rich and culturally valuable. Rescinding or changing it only hurts one of our nation’s most incredible landscapes. Protecting our environment shouldn't be categorized as either left or right, political or even personal. It should simply be the common goal of humanity to protect our home. After all, we only get one.
In my opinion, Aldo Leopold encapsulated the importance of public lands better than anyone in the following quote: "Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization." I believe this inference correctly implies that a civilization's past, present, and future are inextricably linked to the wilderness and lands that have sustained it. Our country's culture, heritage, and most importantly our core values are reflected in our treatment of the wild places that surround us. The continuation of proper public land management allows for the inheritance of these values from one generation to the next, and therefore a sense of ethical and cultural awareness is passed on between each generation as well. To me, America's public lands exemplify the fact that we are a nation that stands defiantly indivisible. They are more than simply property in which to recreate. Public lands represent American ideals and serve as a monument to the fact that we as a nation honor freedom, equal opportunity, and liberty above anything else. The invalidation of our public lands is an invalidation of the basic tenets of the American value system as a whole.
OUR NATIONAL MONUMENTS ARE UNDER REVIEW AND YOU CAN HELP PROTECT THEM.
Click here to let your voice be heard by submitting a comment to the Department of Interior regarding your thoughts on preserving many of our National Monuments.