To be handed over to private business: America's National Forests (credit: Kaibab National Forest)
If you are a normal, sensitive American in love with your country's natural wonders and determined to preserve them for generations to come, then you will be devastated by the subject matter of this blog.
The awesome news to which I refer is a budgetary amendment adopted last month by the U.S. Senate, by a close vote of 51 to 49, that would transfer ownership of the U.S. National Forests, Wildernesses and Wildlife Refuges to the States, thus permitting their transfer by those States to private persons. The amendment was heavily supported by organizations funded by Exxon Mobil and the Koch Brothers. It was opposed by the entire Democratic membership in the Senate and by three Republican Senators: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Corey Gardner of Colorado, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Otherwise, every Republican Senator voted for it.
Lest I be accused of inaccuracy, let me point out that this vote did not apply to U.S. National Parks, U.S. National Monuments, or U.S. Wildlife Preserves. Those cherished entities are irreversibly protected by law from being sold off by the most rabidly ideological U.S. senator. And secondly, the vote was not to enact a decisive law, but was primarily a symbolic shaping of the new Federal budget, and thus isn't yet a law. But even as a symbolic gesture, this action by the Senate is enough to chill your blood, and could well be an advance indication of more decisive actions to come.
The reason for the vote? You've heard the arguments dozens of times: States rights. Smaller federal government. Removing government from business, and transferring their functions to all-wise, all-knowing private corporations.
But if you're like me, and have enjoyed outings in National Forests, in Wildernesses, in Wildlife Refuges, all of them great national treasures, you will be astonished at the actions of these 51 Senators. Every U.S. President, Republican as well as Democrat, has spoken of the need to protect our undeveloped wilderness for all the people, to prevent them from being mined or drilled for oil, to preserve them for future generations. These sentiments have been expressed by Theodore Roosevelt, by Richard Nixon, by Ronald Reagan, by Franklin D. Roosevelt, by John F. Kennedy, and more, and their views are shared by the vast and overwhelming percentage of the U.S. public.
Head off this unconscionable action. Write your representatives in Congress, demanding that they stand against the transfer of our great natural treasures to private corporations.