Candidates use that word, “public lands” because they can’t say they “have no use for national forests, national parks, or national wildlife refuges’

Most westerners love the public lands of the United States and most of the outdoor recreation that does not use special facilities like stadiums takes place on them.  Romney and Santorum, who know little about the West, have recently weighed in on them. They don’t know why these lands exist. They think they should probably be given back to the states, though the states never owned them; or perhaps they should be sold.

Neither man has much of a history enjoying the outdoors. Romney is rich enough to use plush private ranches should he ever have the urge. Santorum is not a rich guy. He might suspect that illicit sexual liaisons take place in the forests, meadows and under the sagebrush. He is right.

Ever since Ronald Reagan, Republican politicians have had a tendency to want to rid America of these places where the average person has the freedom to roam. That party flat out does not like anything with the word “public” in it, although they always call them “public lands” or “federal lands.”  That leaves many voters unaware they are speaking trash about the national parks, the national forests, the national wildlife refuges and the BLM lands.  Romney would not say I’m trying to figure out if there is any reason we need national parks.” No. He says “public lands” or “federal government.” For example, I don’t know the reason that the federal government owns such a large share of Nevada” (interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal Feb. 2).

Timothy Egan, writer of many books about the Western lands and waters has a lot more to say about these two candidates in the New York Times.The Trees are All Right.”

 

 

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

36 Responses to Romney, Santorum don’t like public lands

  1. I like parks! Don’t take my parks away…

    Also, I was told by the kind folks at the primitive state to direct you to a blog post I recently wrote on the eradication of unicorns:

    http://drevets.com/2012/03/08/7-uses-of-unicorn/

  2. avatar Salle says:

    How westerners view the region’s role in nation’s energy future

    (and a whole lot more…)

    http://www.headwatersnews.org/p.Westernsurvey013112.html

    “For the second consecutive year, voters’ opinions on the economy and the environment continue to defy the stereotypical conclusion that one must be forsaken for the other.”

    • The big exploiter interests want to insist there is a tradeoff, and sometimes there is; but I am pleased the public is generally not buying their argument, according to these data.

      Thanks for posting it, Salle.

  3. avatar Daniel Berg says:

    What a shameful disgrace the republican party has become (the shameful disgrace that the demcrat party has become is another topic)

    Instead of creating a platform that has the potential for center-right appeal, it’s a party that’s been hijacked and mutated by crazies, loud-mouths, and the delusional. I think most people realize that Santorum is a one trick pony: he cashed his big chip in the game by appealing to social conservatives. He’s completely unelectable and every republican analyst knows it. Unfortunately for Romney, he’s felt it necessary to pander a bit too much to the whacky crowd that are anti-environment to the core/prone to interesting interpretations of the intentions of our founding fathers/religious zealots/all of the above. I do not believe even with more delegates going into the convention, that Santorum would be allowed to walk out of there with the nomination.

    I think Romney is fighting an uphill battle. He’s mormon, which makes a lot of social conservatives uncomfortable, and he’s compromised himself by playing, and in my opinion failing so far, the dangerous game of appealing to whatever he thinks his base is, and still trying to maintain moderate appeal.

    This comment about public lands he made in Nevada is a perfect example. There were ways that he could have whipped up the slack-jawed crowd without expressing such an extreme view. And even if he didn’t whip them up, it’s not like they are going to vote for Obama. He shouldn’t fear their ambivalance, they hate Obama too much to stay home on election day.

    • avatar cirque guy says:

      And just what the heck does the average “Joe the Plumber” think it would mean to him if Santorum, Romney or any other wingnut should sell off public (BLM, USFS, USFWS etc) lands? Does he think he could buy his own national park? Those purchases would be made by the 0.000001% corporations that either have tons of oily cash or are friends with Nascar owners. Does Joe think he would still have some place to go shoot off his guns at his beer cans and life would be better? I’ve got to stop following politics it just tears my stomach up. But I can’t, I care too much. Cogito tute.

  4. avatar SEAK Mossback says:

    “Santorum is not a rich guy”.

    Ralph, our definitions may differ, but I consider $923,411 in annual income to be pretty comfortable — certainly enough to treat the family to an occasional outing at a dude ranch instead of pitching a tent on public land. What I’ve found most telling about Santorum — what I would actually call evidence of character fraud, is how little Saint Rick gives to charity (1.76% in 2010).

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/16/news/economy/santorum_charity/index.htm

    Especially for a candidate who believes the government should be starved and who cloaks himself as a model church member who takes his orders straight from God, who also subscribes to the belief that those who are truly needy should be assisted through private means (i.e. churches, etc) rather than government. The tax returns he’s released for the past 4 years are testament to which way he leans overwhelmingly in reconciling the seemingly inconsistent greed and religion tenets to which he publicly hues, with an average charitable contribution of 2% over 4 years. He does not put his money where his mouth is. Not only is he about 80% short of tithing protocol, he can’t even show enough allegiance to his fiscal beliefs to donate 65% of a small portion of his ample income to support the good works of his church while “starving the beast” of the other 35% with the tax write-off.

    The fact that vast numbers of fundamentalist “Christians” can look blithely past such a striking incongruity (still finding him the most appealing choice) just goes to show it’s all about appearances and finding a “pure brand”, even in the face of copious contrasting evidence. No wonder fraudsters have such a field day fleecing people in this country. He may be a great conservative show-boy, perhaps the only one verbally consistent enough to every tenet to elicit years of Limbaugh’s bantering praise without criticism (and thereby sew up the vast ditto head vote) — but he’s afflicted to the core by self-serving greed that’s completely at odds with the religious brand he wears on his sleeve. So, knowing that, how comfortable are you that given the chance he would abandon “real conservative” fiscal values just as soon as in power and start redirecting government $$$ behind the scenes toward his loyal friends who would in turn take care of him, just like Delay et al did on K Street when they demanded absolute loyalty while funneling vast amounts of spending waste to steadily consolidate their grip on power — apparently believing they had achieved a lock on a 1,000 year Republican Reich. He might even divert attention from tax breaks for rich benefactors by proposing to sell off federal land to the highest bidder and thereby argue the extra revenue erases any “fiscal note”. And when opposition arises in Congress, he can call a news conference to blame the additional damage to the deficit on the Democrats.

    Gingrinch is as hypocritical as Santorum, or more so, with a donation rate of 2.6% of $3.2 million in 2010. Obama and Romney actually donate respectably for rich folks at 14.2% and 13.8%, respectively, although Obama’s giving is somewhat more impressive due to his far lower income (more than an order of magnitude less than Romney’s) and freedom from the constraints of Mormon doctrine.
    http://money.cnn.com/pf/taxes/storysupplement/candidates-tax-returns/?iid=EL

    But back to your point — I don’t think any of this crop of Republicans have much personal experience or use for federal land. I don’t think Obama has much connection with it either, but he at least has a much higher ideological hurdle to cross before portraying it as bad for the country and actually initiating disposal of it.

  5. avatar john says:

    and obama is the poster child for conservation and protection?? give us all a break, you have been totally disappointed with this guy for years from his appointment of salazar to just about every other environmental issue. he has thrown out nothing but fodder to ‘keep you on onboard” but has done nothing specific.. and yet you still go about blaming anyone BUT obama.. by the stroke of a pen he could solve many of your issues, but he won’t,,

    • John,

      Note to readers this is a new “John” on the forum. RM

      As you say Obama is not the “poster child for conservation and protection.” I agree. We have criticized him a lot.

      The article is not about Obama, however. It is about the two Republicans who seem to be about as bad on the issue as I can imagine.

      The Republican Party elected officials in Congress and running for President are not conservatives, their extremism is so great it is like they have fallen off the planet, IMO.

  6. avatar Alison Dean says:

    It seems that most folks, including Messrs Egan and Maughan, are casting the national forests, parks, and rangelands as primarily valuable for recreation. Recall that the forest reserves were created by T.Roosevelt for the purpose of sustaining a necessary quantity and quality of renewable natural resources, most importantly fresh water. All of the scarce water in the arid west begins as snow on a mountain that is carefully managed by the FS, NPS, or BLM. If federal lands become private, and the legions of federal employees who work on those lands become unemployed, who is going to safeguard the headwaters and habitat that sustain us? Who is going to fight the wildfires? Who will prevent the tragedy of the commons from consuming all the natural resources that were given to our generation in trust?

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      I can assure you that we here at The Wildlife News see public lands as much more than areas for recreation. If you care to read more of the posts we have made you would surely see that. I take issue with the idea that the lands are carefully managed by the agencies. We have dedicated a big portion of our lives and careers to making sure that these agencies do just that yet they aren’t. They have become captured by industry and have managed livestock grazing about as bad as anyone could imagine.

      Public lands do provide many resources to mankind but they are also important for their own sake. They should remain a public resource but I don’t think that the agencies are preventing the tragedy of the commons as they stand now. It seems that Obama and the agencies are rushing headlong into achieving the tragedy of the commons by promising to develop energy on public lands at a rate that is unprecedented. Rather than developing public lands this country should be looking to develop rooftop solar and other energy supplies in areas where they are less harmful to the land and wildlife.

      Take a look at solar energy. Photovoltaic panels have become cheaper than other methods of solar yet big companies are now asking to develop big photovoltaic plants on public land even though photovoltaics are the perfect method for decentralized energy. This shouldn’t be allowed because it comes at great public expense and requires great amounts of public lands for plant construction and even more for power lines which aren’t needed when it is decentralized.

  7. avatar Salle says:

    LOL!!!! And not at the indigenous folks….

    Here’s an issue that I’ll bet the repugs haven’t thought about in a while. This proposal was initiated several years ago, I wonder how this will pan out… another ethnic cleansing or recognition of the fact that we’ve been ripping them off since our ancestors got here and that we have a moral (for merely one example) obligation to recognize their complaint and honor their decision?

    Lakota Indians cancel treaties with U.S. gov’t

    http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_4297.shtml

    I wish them success.

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      I don’t think these people represent the Lakota tribe. This has happened several times and they don’t represent the tribe.

    • avatar Ken Cole says:

      And the article is dated 2008.

      • avatar Salle says:

        Thanks for catching the date thing. I do know that there is a faction, I don’t blame any of the tribes to take such action if they chose to.

        I followed a link from Buzzflash and thought it was more a revival of the past effort. And I agree that they probably don’t represent the majority of the Lakota… but you never know. (Just because they will tell you some things, unless you have a really tight relationship with them, you can be sure they haven’t revealed all there is to know about what they are doing.) Experience with our heinous, thieving campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide has taught them well. Our culture likes to assume superiority over others whether it’s about intellect, ease in forcing assimilation or what have you. I can see that if the “brute force and ignorance clan” get violent about their lot in life and take it out on everyone else, the indigenous will likely take advantage of an opportunity to regain a little of what was taken from them by force and then defend it. Just a speculation, mind you.

  8. avatar Barb says:

    The primary reason I left Maine, where I lived for seven years, was due to the lack of public lands. Having been raised in northern Idaho I was used to being able to visit many national forests; at that time there was only one Idaho state park, a small one on Chatcolet Lake.

    Without the US government there would be no large areas like the Bob Marshall or Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness nor the wild and scenic rivers providing recreational opportunities to millions of people.

    To transfer these national lands to the states and eventually to private entities would be a tragic mistake.

  9. avatar Mike says:

    Obama doesn’t seem to care about public lands either. Ho hum, nothing new under the sun.

    At least he hasn’t tried to sell USFS land like Dubya did. But the damage he and Salazar have done is not so great, either.

    • avatar cirque guy says:

      What we really need for this country is a good liberal westerner that has some backbone. Someone that has has an education in land health issues, wildlife management and an appreciation for the soil that is the support for all life on this planet. Someone that would stand up and say to hell with predatory management and no more cattle baron tax welfare. Someone that can see a few generations into the future. If they be religious let them adhere to Job 12: 7-12. If not let them be touched by the need for respect of all life as Albert Schweitzer. If none of the above at least be forward thinking as Frank Church.

      • avatar Virginia says:

        I don’t know where you live, but a “liberal westerner” is an endangered species where I live (which is in the West.)

        • avatar cirque guy says:

          Yeh, I know, I’m a Idaho batholith kinda guy too. However I think there are more liberals in the west than shows on the surface. It’s the public land barons that definitely drive politics in most western states. But the rank and file do have a core of open space advocates and if left uncontaminated by incendiary slogans and given choices that are factual about land health they could blossom. The path of least resistance is with the fire and brimstone cow huggers.

        • avatar Alan says:

          “I don’t know where you live, but a “liberal westerner” is an endangered species where I live (which is in the West.)”
          I’m not sure I agree with that. Of course I have no idea exactly where you live, but where I live (also “out west”) I tend to think they are slowly increasing as more and more easterners and far westerners (Californians) are retiring in the Rocky Mountain states. A lot of them aren’t very vocal about it yet, because they don’t want to upset the apple cart (with them on the bottom!), but they exist. Also, educational opportunities are improving, and as we all know, them institutions of higher learn’n are hotbeds of liberalism!! The only hope is to keep the girls barefoot and without contraceptives, and the boys shoveling horse shhhtuff!

          • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

            Progressives and independents are on the defensive. However, the reason is not lack of numbers, but lack of organization.

            Conservative activists have moved so far right they are not even conservative anymore, but clearly reactionary and revolutionary. Their growing organization, however, and the failure of the public to yet fully perceive their extreme ideas (the ultra rich are overtaxed, birth control is a bad thing) has helped them advance. They have also had an infusion of money. The battle in Wisconsin to unseat Governor Walker clearly shows that the top one tenth of the one percent are his sources of money.

            • avatar cirque guy says:

              Okay, so how do we organize? It’s easy to see who’s behind the conservative consumption activists, you just, “follow the money”. But for us, our message for the most part doesn’t have a money trail. The message about trophic cascades doesn’t buy two Cadillacs in every garage. In fact our message is one of a nonprofitable empathy feeling for science. That’s not a get rich message. We join great numbers of tree hugger societies and vote accordingly but in the west we are just so outnumbered. It just seems the playing field is not level because of the incendiary lies and fears of wolves in every backyard and six dollar gas that appeals to the uninformed. Those that would tip the eco way if they just hadn’t heard about the fearsome stories and surmise, “Gosh that could me me” don’t have a chance. Back in ’66 R.H. Giles Jr. taught some great insights about advertising appeals during his tenure teaching wildlife management at University of Idaho. I can’t find my notes anymore but if you get my point, we don’t make our appeal personal enough. We need to keep asking ourselves, are we telling the people what’s in it for them to go the eco way. And not only that but how adverse is it going to be to me personally if I stay with the consumption folks. Money wins all the time. If they think gas will be cheaper by drilling in Yellowstone or selling Nevada to the highest bidder, they will vote for selling every time. I guess we’re doing all we can with what we have. One more question though, do you think we are better off the way we are now with 100’s of eco societies, some small, some large, or would we be better off all incorporated as one loud voice. Kind of like the Red Cross, instead of 100’s of band-aid stations, just one national or international action voice?

          • avatar cirque guy says:

            I do agree and have said before that California may save Idaho much to the chagrin of the big hats. They are going too slow for me though. And I’m quite concerned about private money being dumped into the elementary school systems where it is allowed. You only have to watch the advertisement from an oil company praising itself for pouring money into science programs in schools. You’d have to be a rocket surgeon not to pick up on what kind of science they support. You won’t find them teaching trophic cascades but you will find them teaching things that relate to squeezing oil out of rocks or mixing a coctail of stuff to percolate natural gas to the surface. When the emphasis was so much on the spotted owl and old growth forest, Potlatch was using a demonstration of kids to stand close together and then designate other kids to be the deer and see if they can walk through the “forest”. Of course they couldn’t until the Potlatch man removed most of the tree kids. So beware of private money into the education system that’s just another place we have to “follow the money” to really see the picture. Californians and easterners welcome.

            • avatar Salle says:

              Sanctimonius,imbecilic zealot with a megaphone… which is what makes him so dangerous… in this case in two ways, his mind and his mouth (and they complain abut women!)

              Santorum: Endangered Species Act puts ‘critters above people’

              http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/12/santorum-endangered-species-act-puts-critters-above-people/

              This the message the corporate plutocracy would have everybody believe (…as opposed to our thinking for ourselves when faced with the facts).

              • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

                I think Santorum is the kind of person who starts real — killing — wars over religions. To him, to care about the condition of the planet is some kind of planet worship or animal worship. In addition, he doesn’t think Mormons are Christians, and if the truth be told he doesn’t think traditional Protestant denominations are Christian either.

            • avatar Salle says:

              This is a good analysis of the strategy he uses and some good advice with regard to how to defeat these clowns, I mean individuals…

              The Santorum Strategy

              http://www.truth-out.org/santorum-strategy/1331575849

            • avatar Doryfun says:

              Cirque guy

              “When the emphasis was so much on the spotted owl and old growth forest, Potlatch was using a demonstration of kids to stand close together and then designate other kids to be the deer and see if they can walk through the “forest”. Of course they couldn’t until the Potlatch man removed most of the tree kids.”

              Reminds me of a time back in the early 70’ s (middle of spotted owl/old growth controversies) , some timber industry zealot writing in a slanted Fish & Wildlife Wise Use (masquerade name/propaganda piece) went on to tell about how great elk mgt in Oregon was, and how stumps (in clearcuts) made good tables to put your lunch on, and not get in the way when casting a fly (seriously); then in the same magazine wrote another story about his successful hunt in Idaho where all the big bulls were. (I couldn’t resist a rebuttal to encourage him to remain in OR to hunt where they had been doing so well in forest/elk mgt.
              Note: I use a wooden dory, I know where wood comes from, and not against cutting trees. Balance is another matter.).

              Similar now to slick tv marketing ads with the Hilary look-alike woman trotting across a map of the USA selling for the oil industry. (more evidence for some of Salle’s pretzel logic). I hope the hell there are more people who can see through the smoke, than not, when it comes to public/private lands, conservation/exploitation of natural resources, but I’m not holding my breath.

  10. avatar Salle says:

    Ken Griffin, Billionaire Romney Backer, Says Super Rich Have ‘An Insufficient Influence’ On Politics

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0311-confidential-griffin-web-version-20120311,0,2604121,full.column

    • avatar cirque guy says:

      Yeh I know and I’m sure he drives a couple of Cadillacs too. If they had their way that would be the only qualifier to vote.

  11. avatar Salle says:

    VIDEO: Rep. Cliff Stearns Wants To Sell Off Our National Parks

    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/03/13/443381/video-rep-cliff-stearns-sell-off-national-parks/?mobile=nc

    Pretzel logic.

  12. avatar cirque guy says:

    Doryfun has it right pointing out that industry and especially the oil folks want to have at least some of their act appeal to the tree huggers and therefore camouflage their message as something as good as apple pie. I think at all costs we must thwart corporations efforts to mingle funds into the public education system. It is not by accident that so many advertisements show video with background of pristine alpine, desert or forest to further the appeal of their product. Look at vehicle advertisements for example, you see the gas guzzling Jeep rocketing across a high ridge with snow capped mountains in the background. Why not show a symbolic huge footprint crushing a pristine mountain meadow? Because the truth doesn’t sell Jeeps. And the examples go on and on. Whether it’s Coke machines or oil money keep it out of the public schools.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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