Our Public Lands Are At Risk Unless we act now, we may lose them forever.

A bill was introduced by Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz on January 24th, 2017 to dispose of 3.3 MILLION acres of land that he described as having "no purpose to taxpayers".This is far from the truth; the lands at stake are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and generate over $646 billion in revenue and 6.1 million U.S. jobs.

Devaluation of Public Lands

Chaffetz had previously introduced a bill that would make it easier to trasfer federal land to the state. This would get rid of "mixed use requirements, limiting public access, and turning over for energy or property development" (Business Insider, 2017). The bill essentially denies any value of federal property and prevents the federal government from receiving compensation from energy production, recreation, or grazing.The bill would also strip power from the National Parks Service and U.S. Forest Service and leave local law enforcement to protect the land.

This Land Is Our Land!

In response to the new legislation, the Governor of Montana led over 1,000 protesters including: environmentalists, hunters, sportsmen, and fishermen to the state capitol. He stressed that our lands are a part of our heritage, our economy, and an integral part of our quality of life. A poll from 2016 revealed that 78% of Americans oppose to the privatization of public lands and as much as 72% are less likely to vote on a candidate who supports selling public land.

It's time to fight back!

Hundreds of protesters in Montana oppose Bill HR621

Together we can make a difference

The huge opposition from Rep. Jason Chaffetz's constituents led to the termination of the bill! He later posted an image on Instagram claiming to "love our public lands".

Wake up, America!

As an aspiring park ranger, Chicana, member of the LGBTQ community, and as a daughter of immigrant parents, every aspect of my identity is threatened by the Trump administration. It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the political climate but it is imperative that we question every executive order passed by our tyrannical president.

Our National Parks are much more than a place to walk your dog; they are rich in history, have many social and health benefits for its visitors. It is important that we stand up and defend our rights to this land that is rightfully ours.

It is important to know that we are not alone in this fight against injustice. Thanks to technological advancements and social media sites such as Facebook, people were able to come together quickly in opposition to bill HR 621. Together, we can make a lasting impact on our legislation and hold our representatives accountable.I would like to empower more young people to be involved in political affairs and to vote in their local and state elections. It is our responsibility to protect our parks and preserve them for the enjoyment of future generations.

Credits:

Created with images by Unsplash - "stone arch geology formation" • MotionStudios - "united states capitol politics government" • Lenny K Photography - "Yosemite National Park US" • tpsdave - "yosemite national park tourism" • capotian - "glory nuclear o'reilly unit 3"

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