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Federal Lands Belong to All Americans: a Defense of Federal Land Managment

Montana
Photo courtesy of Dan Saxton

The following essay was written and submitted to KGVO by Susan Reneau:

Dear Jon and Peter and the Listeners to “Talk Back” Radio Show (who I love),

Thank you for at least letting me say a few words that certainly generated thought among your listeners.

In a nutshell, federal lands belong to ALL Americans, not just the people who live in particular states. Unlike Europe and most other parts of the world where public lands do not exist and where hunting and fishing is reserved for wealthy landowners or royalty such as in Europe, America is truly the land of the free and home of the brave because we have public lands for ANYONE, whether it be a U.S. citizen or a visitor to our nation. ANYONE in America can enjoy federal public lands because they belong to ALL Americans, not just the wealthy or well-connected ones.

Access to those public lands are open to ANYONE who comes to America, whether they be citizens or visitors at no charge or little charge to each person. No other nation on earth has such freedom of access as the United States of America, Peter and Jon, and it is because we have federal public lands paid by every taxpayer and most especially by hunters, trappers and fishermen. Those outdoorsmen make it possible for anyone wishing to enjoy the great outdoors to do so without paying for it in fees or small fees.

REPUBLICANS, not Democrats, established the federal land systems and the U.S. Congress, elected by all Americans, established the federal land systems and methods of funding.

The main reason why eastern states do not have as many federal public lands is that by the time REPUBLICANS set up the federal land systems in the early 1900s,most of the land in the east was privately owned or state owned.

The federal land systems were generally set up between 1901 and 1916 by Congress to set aside large tracts of land to prevent over-harvesting of wildlife, minerals and timber by private landowners that at that time were destroying American landscapes with strip mining, strip timber cutting and market hunting. The railroads were needing food to feed their workers throughout the country and market hunters like Buffalo Bill were hired to slaughter large herds of deer, elk, bear and other animals to feed those workers, free of charge by the railroads. Furthermore, large tracts of land where timber and minerals existed were stripped without regard for streams, wildlife or humans that lived in the areas or wanted to live in the areas.

The single most important reason, Jon and Peter and KGVO listeners, that current federal agencies like the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service cannot operate correctly is because of lawsuits by environmental whacko groups like the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife that hamper proper management of our natural resources (wildlife and otherwise) on public lands. These environmental wacko organizations sue everyone in the federal government to put a stop to proper land and resource management.

The Forest Service is a prime example because they are prevented from harvesting dead and dying timber for paper and building industry use because of stupid and expensive lawsuits from the environmental crowd.

I am a conservationist, not an environmentalist, which means I believe in logical harvesting of ALL natural resources but I also do not think private business can tromp on lands without regulation that already exists on the federal law books. Environmentalists have succeeded in calling themselves conservationists when they are not. They don’t believe that mining, timber harvest, hunting or fishing is good, but I do because I am a conservationist.

The environmental whachos like to call themselves conservationists when they are not. They, generally speaking, believe in “leaving the earth alone,” which is one of the worst ways to care for land. Timber left to grow and grow and grow and never to be harvested becomes a sick forest. Lawsuits filed by environmental whacko groups have DAMAGED, not helped our forests and other public lands. That is not the fault of the federal government workers in charge of land management. That is the fault of ill-conceived lawsuits by environmental groups.

Mining done within the limits of the law already on the books can be done without destroying the land around the mining activity. Go to Idaho’s Kellogg area and see how mining interests have nicely reclaimed the land after extracting minerals from it. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, begun during Theodore Roosevelt’s REPUBLICAN presidency, was started to help the land recover after mining took place and was set up as an encouragement to mining, not a discouragement.

One of the main reasons our national forests are so unhealthy and prone to fire is because of the lack of timber harvest using the laws that are in place and that’s because of lawsuits, Jon and Peter.

State lands for some reason have not suffered the lawsuits that the federal agencies have suffered but if the Montana Dept. of Natural Resources was “put in charge” of federal lands you can bet your bottom dollar that the same environmental whachos would sue the DNRC that does not have the money or personnel to handle such vast land management that has been paid for by ALL taxpayers.

I do not want private landowners buying public federal lands to develop condominiums and other money-making activities for themselves. I want the lands that were purchased by ALL Americans that pay taxes to be available to anyone within the limits of the federal law.

As a taxpayer you and I and all law abiding Americans have paid for the lands that are federal through our taxes. The cost to staff the public lands, help the public lands and purchase the public lands are paid for by ALL Americans, not just taxpayers in Montana. We don’t have enough people to finance such projects. And, national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation lands are all paid for by ALL Americans since they began in the early 1900s, Jon and Peter.

Additionally, if you are a hunter or fisherman you have paid for additional and current federal lands through special taxes paid when we buy fishing and hunting equipment in federal laws passed by Congress in the 1930s by Republicans as the Pittman-Robertson Act (hunting) and the Dingle-Johnson Act (fishing equipment).

It infuriates me when Republicans today insult the Republicans of the early 1900s that set up the federal public lands and the methods of paying for them.

Private landowners were the reason federal public lands were set up in the first place.

It is this single issue, Jon and Peter, that prevents the Republicans of Montana and around the country from securing majorities in state senate and house offices and federal offices.

Please post my comments on your FACEBOOK, if you like, or at least please listen to me.

We need Republicans to bring sense to our federal government but not on the backs of public lands.

I want the Republicans to regain the U.S. presidency, the U.S. Senate and the Montana governorship but with the attitude expressed by your guest today, the Republicans will continue to be rejected by people that normally are Republicans.

I am a fiscal and social conservative and I am proud of the efforts of such Republicans as Richard Nixon and Theodore Roosevelt for the work they did for conservation, NOT environmentalism.

Sadly, modern Republicans don’t appreciate that heritage of their own party.

Four presidents of the 19th and 20th century that I think are luminaries are Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan – ALL REPUBLICANS except Jefferson. The most luminary of the 18th century presidents by far was George Washington – true blessing to our nation and the world.

Without these luminaries in our nation’s history, we would not have the nation we enjoy today.

There is a serious difference between conservationists and environmentalists so I hope this short discussion is helpful to you and to your listeners who I deeply respect.

Sincerely,

Susan Reneau

Book author of 22 books on hunting

Life Member, NRA, Wild Sheep Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, etc.

Big-game and bird hunter and mother of three human hunters and two Labrador retriever hunters named Daniel Boone and Betty Crockett

 

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