“We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”
I really have been attempting to maintain a positive attitude during the past months. But with the announcement of the reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National monuments, as well as the dismantling of the EPA, Keystone leaking and our withdrawal from the Paris Accord, it is difficult to stay optimistic. So, I decided to focus on the president that began conservation and who was the first to put aside lands for the future, Teddy Roosevelt.
Teddy was a big hunter and outdoorsman. One of the most celebrated camping trips in American history occurred in 1903 when President Roosevelt spent several days exploring Yosemite with renowned naturalist John Muir. Finding common ground on their passion for nature, the two men discussed the importance of preserving unique landscapes and wildlife. Energized by the experience, Roosevelt worked to make Muir’s Yosemite dream a reality by eventually adding Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to Yosemite National Park. That same year, Teddy was able to pressure congress to create Yellowstone National Park, one of the most unique natural areas in the world.
In 1906, Teddy sign the Antiquities Act which allows a president to set aside lands of historic or scientific interest as national monuments. As a president who held a long reaching vision, Roosevelt used his authority to establish 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments on over 230 million acres of public land.
My grandchildren visited Yellowstone last summer. I was so happy they had such an opportunity. This was Teddy’s goal, preserving natural wonders for generations to come. This is the kind of long-term thinking that has made America great. As Ken Burns stated in his documentary, our national parks are America’s best idea. I wonder if our current president has even visited a national park or even has a clue as to why other presidents have seen fit to set aside lands to protect them from exploitation.
The American company that lobbied for access to the uranium in Bears Ears and is already mining near the monument is a subsidiary of a Canadian company- the very same company that is at the center of all of the conservative fake news about Clinton and Uranium One. You know, the one partially purchased by a Russian company. Therefore, in doing the bidding of a US mining company, releasing parts of the Bear’s Ears National Monument for mining, is actually doing the bidding of a small group of Russian oligarchs. This certainly broadens understanding of why the monument was reduced. This kind of short-term thinking does not reflect the kind of outstanding leadership expected of the President of the United States, the kind of leadership and values shown by great presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt. The Keystone pipeline and uranium mining in Bear’s Ears will allow big profits for foreign corporations and degradation of our beautiful lands. Is our nation becoming a resource for foreign profiteers?