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The phrase “public lands” keeps cropping up on my TV screen, even when I have the sound turned off.

In the U.S., public lands are held by central or local governments, for the purpose of public use, now or in the future. Personally, I am grateful that Theodore Roosevelt, as a leader of the Republican Party and his conservation group, Boone and Crockett Club, took matters into their own hands by creating laws and regulations that protected these national treasures.

Why do I want them held in trust and not exploited for monetary gain? For my grandkids, and their grandkids, to discover and experience.

There is no substitute for wild lands, wild creatures and the Presence of the Great Maker that lives there. There is no reclaiming the lands that are exploited for monetary gain. And frankly, humans make mistakes. If you’ve had a chance to see The Berkeley Pit in Butte (the country’s biggest superfund site), you’ve seen that human error destroyed not only a huge tract of the land (and the geese and ducks that land there), but also the drinking water for Butte, probably forever. Is that a fair trade for the millions of tons of copper that was extracted? Well, it supplied jobs. It made multi-millionaires. It left the workers from that era high, dry and full of toxins, and it leaves taxpayers paying for the cleanup.

Why are public lands targeted? It’s a simple argument that some folks fall for. Get “government” out of managing vast tracts of land, and let private enterprise make them profitable. But in this case “government” is people like you and me who manage those lands because they love them, not because they want to make money off of them. It’s literally thousands of working folks making modest wages to manage plants, animals, fish, bird life, vast reserves of trees and a million other wonderful residents who thrive only in the wild. It’s sort of like wanting to sell pieces of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. because it’s empty a lot of the time. No. Not acceptable.

In the end, I think about seven generations hence. Those kids in 2192 deserve to experience the planet as the beneficent power of life, breathe pristine air, and drink pure water. We all do.

– Star Jameson, Hamilton