Don't sell public lands on Jewell's watch

Sell public lands?
 
Not on Sally Jewell’s watch as Secretary of the Interior.
 
Jewell addressed the National Geographic Society today, with an emphatic message that public lands need to remain in public hands. Jewell is concerned Americans  continue to lose their connection to the outdoors and it comes with a high price. 
 
“Those trends coincide with the emergence of an extreme movement to seize public lands — from Oregon to Puerto Rico — putting lands that belong to all Americans at risk of being sold off for a short-term gain to the highest bidder,” she said. “This movement has propped up dangerous voices that reject the rule of law, put communities and hard-working public servants at risk, and fail to appreciate how deeply democratic and American our national parks and public lands are.”
 
Across the country, sportsmen and women have stood up to support their public lands, showing up at rallies, writing members of Congress and fighting ill-conceived legislation. Last year, Trout Unlimited’s ranks of volunteers helped defeat more than 30 state-level public lands transfer bills and continued to do so this year.
 
These individual acts of faith in our system of American lands - a system which has benefitted not just sportsmen but anyone who prefers clean air, water, or just some space to get away from it all - are part of what Jewell calls the “dawning of a new era of conservation.”
 
Part of the importance of those lands are their benefit to local economies. For every dollar invested in National Parks, taxpayers saw $10 come back. The parks generated $32 billion in 2015 on a seriously underfunded budget of about $3 billion.
 
But understanding the larger impact of those economics - and not just economies based on National Parks - has yet to be realized. 
 
Until now. 
 
Jewell also announced a groundbreaking study that would quantify the impact of the recreation based economy across the country.
 
The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis feasibility study will present detailed and defensible data on the importance of outdoor recreation as a distinct component of the economy that can help inform decision making and management of public lands and waters.
 
“By producing credible data on the tangible economic benefits of public lands, we can help the public and Members of Congress better understand the benefits of investing in them,” Jewell said. “Industry estimates show that consumer spending for outdoor recreation is greater than household utilities and pharmaceuticals combined – and yet the federal government has never fully recognized or quantified these benefits. This project is the start of a multi-year effort to count these contributions in a comprehensive and impartial way.”
 
On this anniversary of our National Parks, and perhaps the lesser known anniversary of the rule that created the foundation of our modern day public lands system, it’s time we put an end to the notion that these lands should only benefit the few. Instead, we must stand together in support of the value these public lands provide, economic, natural and otherwise.
 
“There are some things you can’t put a price tag on.”
 

Comments

 
said on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Well done, Secretary Jewell!

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