Buzz words like public lands, multiple-use, collaboration and climate change have taken over our dialogue. Many times these words and others are used out of context and, in some cases, as weapons. What exactly are public lands? When people want to protect public lands for instance, what do they really want and what public lands are they talking about?
During the last election cycle we had people lining up to demand if others believed in protecting public lands. On-line you find most public lands referenced as those lands owned by the federal government. You also see items like Keep Public Lands Public-US Lands Under Siege, Public Lands Make This Country-Great-Let’s Protect Them, Why is the federal government trading away public land to the 1 percent and Tester asks Zinke about his commitment to public lands. There are literally thousands of other articles, comments and opinions out there.
Some of the questions I keep asking include: What about other public lands? Why are federal, state and local entities acquiring more public land? How much total public land is prudent, reasonable or tolerable? If agencies have land they can’t properly manage or want, why can’t they sell or do land swaps with private or other public entities? What do we do about agencies that have management problems or are inundated with lawsuits which affect their ability to manage?
Many federal land agencies have been working on management plans, travel plans and various projects. Over the years we have seen plans go from reasonably sized documents to massive piles of paper. Lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits have contributed greatly to this document proliferation. Special interests around the country and in Montana have pushed various positions which have contributed greatly to costs to the agencies and the paper blizzard. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies out of Helena uses the endangered species card with regularity. Not long ago I read where they had filed more lawsuits against the US Forest Service than any other entity across the country.
Over the years we have attended many meetings, seminars and other gatherings where multiple-use and collaborative efforts have been discussed. Multiple-use is a great goal, especially for OHV concerns. Unfortunately, there are people who espouse multiple-use using their own definitions. The same could be said for the claims of collaborative efforts. It’s easy to conveniently leave out certain entities but still call it a collaborative effort. Somehow our investigative press is unable to notice and comment on holes in multiple-use and collaborative claims.
Climate change is another one of the buzz words which is used by entities to justify or condemn many different things. Hard core climate change believers think it is proven science and to question anything about it is blasphemy. Public land plans and projects include a great amount of climate change verbiage. We seem to be moving farther and farther away from common sense solutions while trying to incorporate buzz words into documents and the public discussion.
At this point I’m sure you are wondering where I am going with this President’s Corner message. I encourage people to get involved, educate themselves and don’t hesitate to question things. One of the most powerful words in the dictionary is why. Who, what, when and where are close behind.
Our main riding season is close at hand. Ride safely and, hopefully, we will see you on the trail.