“When you turn the management over to the tree-huggers, the bird and bunny lovers and the rock lickers, you turn your heritage over.”
Ever since President Barack Obama used his powers under the Antiquities Act to create Bears Ears National Monument, the pro-greed, anti-conservation faction of the Utah Republican Party has been agitating for the monument’s evisceration.
Though Donald Trump and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have not proposed doing away with Bears Ears entirely, Zinke has hinted he wants to remove a lot of lot of land from the monument (over a million acres) which many environmental groups contend simply isn’t something that can be done through executive action.
But Zinke has yet to try to set any evisceration of the monument in motion. He has delivered a report to his boss as of today, but has not publicly disclosed what’s in it.
“The people briefed on the plans said that along with Bears Ears, Mr. Zinke had proposed reducing the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, also in southern Utah, and two others,” according to The New York Times.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was created by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and has been around much longer than Bears Ears. Of course, that’s not stopping the Trump regime from trying to mess with it.
Zinke is being egged on by Republicans like Mike Noel (a rancher and legislator), who barely attempted to disguise his gluttony when he spoke to The NYT.
Mike Noel, a Republican state representative in Utah, said that shrinking Bears Ears would be “a victory for our state.” Federal management of land in his state had constrained drilling, mining and grazing, he said, adding that Washington had no business setting aside so much land.
“When you turn the management over to the tree-huggers, the bird and bunny lovers and the rock lickers, you turn your heritage over,” Mr. Noel said.
One derogatory phrase would not do for Mike Noel. No, he had to use a grand total of three: Tree-huggers, bird and bunny lovers, and rock lickers.
“When we turned the forest service over to the bird and bunny-lovers and the treehuggers and the rock-lickers, we turned our history over,” Noel said at a press conference this week.
“And the fire is going to do more damage because we’re going to lose our watershed, we’re going to lose our soils, we’re going to lose our wildlife and we’re going to lose our scenery.”
Earth to Mike Noel: You’ve got it backwards. It’s you and your pro-development buddies who want to turn Utah’s heritage over to the forces of greed for exploitation. When President Obama created Bears Ears, he was acting to protect Utah’s heritage from being scarred and polluted, not scrap it.
Your speech reeks of thinly-veiled greed and contempt for those who want to preserve what’s left of America’s wild places for future generations.
Activities like grazing, drilling, and mining are already permitted on a substantial percentage of public lands in the West. It’s therefore extremely important that we set aside areas like Bears Ears for protection, preservation, and recreation.
Native American tribes in the Southwest are strongly opposed to any attempt to eviscerate Bears Ears. So are companies and nonprofits that are in the business of tourism and recreation. And so are a great many individuals — including conservative outdoorsmen — who still believe in the principle of conservation.
Unfortunately, Mike Noel and his buddies see only dollar signs when they look at majestic places like Bears Ears, or Grand Staircase, or the Arctic Refuge. The lack of roads, machines, and domesticated animals bugs them. Their mindset boils down to why aren’t those lands being used up like there’s no tomorrow?
If they get their way, we as a society will have failed to learn the very basic lesson that Dr. Seuss tried to teach us all in The Lorax back in the 1970s:
“But now,” says the Once-ler,
“Now that you’re here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, and it’s up to us to care a whole awful lot. Because if we don’t, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
(The Lorax, incidentally, was Theodor Seuss Geisel’s favorite book.)