Public Land Giveaway Would be Disastrous for Rivers

These lands are the drinking water source for many rivers and aquifers that provide drinking water for 180 million Americans in 68,000 communities.

Colorado's Cache la Poudre River narrows area. | Tim Palmer, USFWS

On the first day of the new Congress the new Republican led U.S. House voted to ease the transfer of public lands signaling that the threat of our public lands being given or sold to state and private interests is real and imminent. This is a part of an outrageous broader scheme by some in Congress and state legislatures to transfer or sell our public lands and rivers and must be vehemently opposed by all Americans regardless of political party.

By adopting new rules to avoid costs to the federal treasury they came up with an accounting trick—decreeing that public lands have no value. Of course in so many ways this couldn’t be further from the truth. The real dollar of value public lands provide us is in fact immense. Our public lands and wild rivers provide billions of dollars annually in clean drinking water, outstanding recreation, and important fish and wildlife habitat.

Bureau of Land Management public lands. | BLM
Bureau of Land Management public lands. | BLM

The value of clean drinking water flowing off of our National Forest lands alone is estimated to be $7.2 billion annually according the U.S. Forest Service. These lands are the drinking water source for many rivers and aquifers that provide drinking water for 180 million Americans in 68,000 communities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Portland, and Denver.

According to the Outdoor Alliance recreation contributes $646 billion to the economy annually supporting 6.1 million jobs. Close to 75 percent of the nation’s outdoor recreation takes place within one-half mile of streams or other water bodies and river-related recreation alone contributes over $97 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Once our public lands are transferred or sold we will likely lose access to many of these lands and rivers.

Aside from the economic arguments and perhaps more importantly: our public lands are simply a birthright and help define what it means to be an American. Our forefathers made sure these lands would not be owned or sold by a lucky few but held in trust for all Americans for all time. Let’s keep it that way.

Rivers on public lands across the country are at risk — including the Chattooga in Georgia, the Rogue in Oregon, the Au Sable in Michigan and the Gallatin in Montana. In the coming weeks and months we will be featuring some of the public lands, watersheds and Wild and Scenic Rivers across the country that are threatened by this extreme action by Congress.

Tell your Member of Congress to oppose the public lands giveaway and protect our wild rivers and clean water.

9 responses to “Public Land Giveaway Would be Disastrous for Rivers

  1. Protecting public lands from fracking interests like the Murray Oil and Gad Co. in the Wayne National Forest is one issue I’ve adopted to stand for what natural resources that provide life for animals, plants and people. There I’ll stand for what cannot there speak.

  2. The Trump regime will rubber stamp every bill of the rapacious GOP Congress, to give away public lands. We’ll see more actions by right wing radicals like the Bundy gang,, who seized the Malheur wildlife refuge in Oregon a year ago. It looks pretty bleak.

  3. The public lands are more valuable than drinking water and fish as you suggestef. If they were made private all the mineral, oil, timber, development values would also be realized. This is Trillions of dollars in value. Environmental religionists are stifling progress for their own myopic primative wishes for public lands. Privatize them to get the most value.

    1. Great plan, a small number of Americans get low paying jobs, the land gets ruined, and some mining or timber company funnels the vast majority of the profits into the hands of the wealthy. They get the money, we get to keep the exploited land. No thanks.

  4. Public lands are meant to be preserved and protected not sold for profit. This will negative impact on the lands. Water and animals. We want to go green. And keep these beautiful lands pristine. And clean not ruined for money public doesn’t mean sell to the highest bidder. It means for us to enjoy our natural national treasures. As is pure and pollution free.

  5. It is critical to keep public lands in the best conditions so that both the natural ecosystems thrive enabling mankind to enjoy those immense benefits. Public lands are crucial for the well-being of all species.

  6. “In a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;
    I dream’d that was the new City of Friends;
    Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love—it led the rest;
    It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
    And in all their looks and words.”
    🌾Walt Whitman

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