As we begin a new year with a new presidency, I would like to remind Mr. Trump of a few things. First, we’re still thirsty around here. The Feds are making a good start with new regulations that improve the priorities in the favor of farming. But the fight’s not over. We gained some ground, but we still will need to fight for every drop.
Federal control of public lands is another hot-button issue, one that’s getting hotter as the West continues to grow. It’s been building a long time and won’t go away soon.
Politically, the Democrats have always supported maintaining federal control of public land, while the Republicans have long spoken for local control. The positions are hardening; the Republicans are pushing for transferring federal lands to the states while the Democrats call for continuing federal control of public lands.
The Democrats also strongly support the environmental movement. They believe federal control will protect natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands, and protect species and wildlife. This, to me, amounts to keeping our forests under the thumb of the King – the king decides who can hunt, who can dig a mine, and where we can travel in these millions of acres of federal land.
So the confrontation is building. The environmentalists have pretty much had their way the last 40 years. They’ve stopped dams from being built, kicked the cattle out of the forests, and prevented new mining. There hasn’t been a balance; the king has allowed one group – the environmentalists – to determine public policy. The rest of us need to have a say.
We must find a balance between the two positions. Some lands need protection and preservation. Some resources need to be managed on the federal level. However, when the King owns the forest and uses a heavy hand to control his peasants… well, we know the outcome of that story.
Previously published on The Western View by AgNet West.