The Republican party continues to work tirelessly on their ultra-conservative party platform that will be approved at the National Convention (RNC) next week. The platform supports scientifically baseless conversion therapy for LGBT teens, calls coal a “clean” source of energy, and now proposes getting rid of the National Park system. The 2012 Republican platform also called for the disposal of public federal lands, but since the Bundy militia takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in January, 2016.
The platform text reads:
“Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states,” reads the adopted language. “We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands identified.”
With the Malheur incident in mind, and the rhetoric within the GOP surrounding the ‘issue’ of federally owned land, it is pretty clear that the delegates intend to turn over control of national parks and refuges to states. This in itself is complicated as several national parks span multiple states, including Yellowstone which extends across northwestern Wyoming and into Montana and Idaho.
The biggest problem with the proposed turnover is that there are no provisions stipulating that the parks and refuges will be maintained as they are. National parks and wildlife refuges protect the vast array of American geology, animal populations, plant diversity, and intact habitats from the scourges of development and pollution that are decimating the environment. The Bundy militia incident intensified a right wing call for turning protected federal lands into ranches or developing them for residency or industry.
National parks give all American citizens access to nature and its beauty. All national parks are free to enter, and provide a number of free recreational activities, including hiking, sightseeing, and swimming. The parks are an egalitarian force, allowing the poor to experience the same wonder of seeing technicolor hot springs in Yellowstone, the monumental redwood pines in California, and endangered manatees in the Everglades.
But Republicans would rather see our pristine wilderness in the hands of corporate developers like the Koch Brothers, to be pillaged and plundered until all value has been extracted, to be left barren as they move on in search of more profits. The Koch Brothers, with their extensive political network created the treasonous anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement and the ridiculous ideology that motivated the Malheur siege, and they won’t stop until those lands are under their control.
“I have long believed that public lands are an equalizer in America, where access to public lands ensures that you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the great outdoors or to introduce your children to hunting, fishing and hiking. This land grab idea is just as ludicrous as denying climate change, just as detached from reality, and similarly comes at the expense of our public health and protection of our public lands and resources.”Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) eloquently explained:
Giving states free reign over protected lands, especially when some states are known to not value land protections, threatens American biodiversity, further jeopardizes what environmental integrity we have left, and ends the era of public access to nature. Changing ownership of protected lands is an insidious attempt to override concerns about the environment and the public good for the benefit of a few Americans. Federal lands should benefit everyone, and should preserve the marvels of American wildlife and landscapes for generations to come.