Trump’s budget jeopardizes America’s public lands heritage
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President Trump’s proposed FY18 budget would cause enormous damage to the nation’s public lands, environment and more.

This proposal is deeply troubling to all Americans who enjoy fishing, hunting and recreation on their public lands and who favor a balanced approach to managing them.

These lands drive a $646 billion—with a “b”—outdoor recreation economy nationwide, spurring $13.2 billion in spending and supporting 124,600 workers in Colorado including hundreds of jobs in Durango—just like in many other Western communities.

The Administration’s budget does not put “America First.” 

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Instead, it slashes $11.6 billion from the Department of the Interior’s already shoestring budget, threatening the very public lands on which so much of this economic activity depends. Amongst its far-reaching obligations, the Department of Interior is charged with managing our National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Conservation Lands and for fulfilling the federal government’s enormous (and legally established) responsibility to our Native American neighbors.

 

Make no mistake, Trump’s budget is an unprecedented attack on public lands and our natural heritage. Instead of balancing the sustainable, long-term economic benefits of protected lands with responsible energy development, the president’s budget undermines America’s ability to steward these lands responsibly.

More than 130 science, conservation, and sportsmen’s organizations have signed a letter opposing the president’s proposed cuts because they too share this concern.

The budget request also fails to explain how the Administration plans to tackle the national parks’ $12-billion maintenance shortfall—an issue Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claimed was at the top of his agenda during his confirmation hearings. This move is an affront to the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican champion of our nation’s land heritage to whom both President Trump and Secretary Zinke have so keenly likened themselves.

One could only imagine what Teddy would think of such an attack on America’s public lands.

Trump’s budget is a shot across the bow to all our national parks and monuments, from Yellowstone to Bears Ears, and should be opposed—like any efforts to undo or undermine our national public lands that have been set aside for all people to enjoy.

Thankfully, while the President may propose a budget, it are our elected representatives in Congress that have the power to deliberate and pass the budget.

America’s most treasured lands, our outdoor and tourism economies, and future generations deserve better. 

Please join me in encouraging Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) to oppose Trump’s proposal, and to pass a budget that sustains and improves our outdoor heritage, not dismantles it.

Ryan Bidwell is the senior director at Conservation Lands Foundation, which aims to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.