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The Battle Over Public Lands

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

I am writing a blog instead of a video this week because a lot of what I am about to talk about is happening now and needs to be acted upon in the coming weeks.

The point of Public Land is to preserve land and save natural places while allowing everyone to enjoy it. It stops the destruction of natural environments by banning businesses from using the land. There are many cases of businesses and even people in government have been trying to open these sites for the resources (in most cases oil). Perhaps the worst case of this was in 1913 when the Hetch Hetchy valley, a valley in Yosemite National Park that was as beautiful as the Yosemite Valley, was dammed to create a reservoir for the people of San Francisco. This flooded the valley and destroyed its natural beauty. Another horrible decision was when Glen Canyon was dammed to create Lake Powell. There are many current battles over NPS Sites and we need to join the fight to protect them.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, also known as America’s Serengeti, is a 30,136 square mile protected area in Northeastern Alaska, containing tundra, mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, beaches, and so much more. Not only does this park refuge protect some of the last unspoiled lands on the planet, but it is home to over 197,000 Porcupine Caribou. These caribou use the refuge’s coastal plains for their annual calving grounds. Big oil companies and politicians have been trying to open these plains for drilling for more than 40 years, but the Trump administration will officially open them very soon. If drilled, the oil development will decimate the caribou population and destroy the natural ecosystem of this environment. It will also hurt the polar bear population as one of the most important polar bears denning areas in the world will be destroyed. It will also shatter the traditions of the Gwich’in people, the local tribe. Only bad could come from this drilling.

Recently, a federal oil well was approved at Carrizo Plains National Monument. This monument is known for its beautiful flower fields and its bone-white lake. It is a window to the past before the plains of Central California were overtaken by agriculture. This oil well would ruin this sprawling Central Valley land. If an oil spill were to occur, it would kill the flowers and wildlife that the new development and infrastructure missed, destroying our last window to the past in the Central Valley. If we spread the word and fight hard enough, we can stop this well.

There are many other Public Lands that people have attempted to reopen. Luckily, the parks usually stay closed, with the help of activism. We have to keep fighting to save these great places before it is too late. Environmental activism has saved parks before, and it will do it again. Believe it or not, the Grand Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument were both going to be dammed, and activism saved the day. We just have to spread the word about these amazing places and what is happening to them while we still can.

This is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Imagine this picture with oil wells, roads, and pipelines. We must stop that from happening.

Photo credit: Environment Maine

This is Carrizo Plains National Monument in full bloom. This is what big oil companies are destroying.

Photo Credit: LA Times

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