Editorial: National Parks a national heritage that needs protection

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Editorial: National Parks a national heritage that needs protection

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According to the National Park System’s website, President Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, “We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone …”

The United States is a vast landscape of diverse natural resources. Many of these resources are in our National Parks, but it has long been held that this is a more than acceptable sacrifice to make for the valuable sense of heritage the parks provide to all Americans.

Roosevelt’s descriptions and feelings for the National Parks system is the cornerstone upon which these treasures have been built. Today, however, these public lands are facing one of the biggest threats to their existence in years. In direct opposition with what Roosevelt tried to express about the limitless benefits of our National Parks, the U.S. government is attempting to pull yet more resources from their beauty. And this must be stopped.

According to Outside’s website, “Last week, the House Committee on Natural Resources voted to adopt HR 3650.”

In essence, the bill would allow portions of the National Forest system to be transferred from control of the federal government to the control of individual state governments. According to HR 3650, “Portions of the [Forest Service] conveyed to a state shall be administered and managed primarily for timber production.”

HR 3650 does no overtly say that “National Parks shall be sold for private interest.” However, the bill does set in motion a chain of events that makes this step seem all but inevitable. According to Outside, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel argues that the firefighting costs alone to protect these forests would be unachievable for individual states, which would all but guarantee their sale to private entities.

There has been widespread bipartisan opposition to this bill, and the only support has come from Republicans. And while modern Democrats have been quick to dismiss the modern GOP, calling it a far cry from the party of Lincoln, few have addressed that the current GOP is a far cry from the party of Teddy Roosevelt, too.

It is the duty of the American people to urge Republican officials to not only vote against this bill but to do what they can to prevent such a bill from ever reaching legitimacy again. The National Parks System represents a comparatively miniscule portion of the federal budget but has somehow become a point of contention because it is not driving industry as some Republicans may hope.

The issue, though, is that Republicans are flatout wrong.

According to OutdoorIndustry.org, the latest numbers indicate that the outdoor recreation industry employs slightly more than 6 million people and contributes $650 billion to the economy annually. The outdoor industry may survive without the National Parks, but it would be a sad, significantly smaller, existence.

“This land is your land, this land is my land” does not refer to the equal sharing of public lands between corporations and people but among the diverse people of the United States.

Roosevelt also said, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

His legacy and the interests of the masses ought not be destroyed by the greed of a few.