One of the first things I heard upon entering Yosemite National Park were two words: “Welcome home.”
Public lands, like our national parks, have been a large part of my life from the time I was very young. The vast open spaces of purple mountain majesties, from sea to shining sea, have always been places where I have sought and found tranquility and clarity. These national treasures belong to all of us as American citizens – but the ability to enjoy these lands cannot and should not be taken for granted. We currently face grave threats that would forever alter the preservation and protection of our national parks, monuments, and historic sites. In the wake of our Independence Day, I think it’s extremely important to speak on this subject.
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt made a visit to Yosemite National Park, where he met and camped with preservationist John Muir, an event which is now called “the most important camping trip in U.S. history”. Muir showed Teddy the grandeur of Yosemite Valley and spoke to him about the immense importance of protecting this national treasure. Three years later, in 1906, Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Antiquities Act, which served as the foundation for conservation law in the United States and the platform from which the National Park Service began ten years later in 1916. (If you would like to read more about the Antiquities Act, including how it was written and why it was so important, please click on this link: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/legal/american-antiquities-act-of-1906.htm)
Now, in 2018, bill H.R. 3990 has been introduced to Congress and currently poses one of the greatest threats to our public lands. Although titled “National Monument Creation and Protection Act”, its contents focus on how to prevent, limit, and reduce our national monuments. The most jarring aspect of this bill is that its authors wish to grant the president authority to reduce the size of any national monument by up to 85,000 acres. This means national public lands that have been protected for decades could be affected by this bill. Lands that have stood stoic against the changing world around them. Lands you may have visited with your families and friends. Lands you have always hoped to visit. They could be forever changed with the stroke of a pen. (For more information about bill H.R. 3990 and how it stands to dramatically impact the public lands legacy, please click on this link: https://www.nwf.org/en/Latest-News/Press-Releases/2017/10-11-17-Attack-on-Antiquities-Act-Threatens-Public-Lands)
This land is your land. This land is my land. This land was made for you and me.
No one should be allowed to take this land from us. And because that is exactly what some are trying to do, we all need to put up a monumental fight.
Call your representatives now.
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders. Do not let selfish men and greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches, or its romance.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt