Letter to the editor: Stand for our land | SteamboatToday.com

Letter to the editor: Stand for our land

The Bureau of Land Management manages nearly 250 million acres of public lands, much of it in the West. The mission of the BLM is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations."

Under the leadership of Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Department of the Interior has taken countless steps to skew the BLM's mandate in favor of all extractive industries, especially oil and gas development, thereby sacrificing the "health, diversity and enjoyment of those lands."

Examples include the reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, the fast-tracking of oil and gas leasing processes, continuous efforts to repeal the methane rule, proposed changes to the greater sage grouse plan and even rules changes that would weaken the Endangered Species Act. All of these actions are intended to expedite fossil fuel development and achieve what this administration calls "energy dominance."

A recent article in Scientific American quotes an Interior Department staffer as saying, "We're giving away (oil and gas) leases for pennies on the dollar. It is to the detriment of the American West." Indeed, with millions of acres of public lands leased for extractive purposes each year, the West has become a sacrifice zone.

Drilling has introduced unchecked industrial processes into rural areas, threatening health, air quality, watersheds, agriculture, wildlife, public lands and our quality of life. Coupled with the effects of climate change — drought, warming temperatures and wildfire — this intensification of drilling on public lands also threatens the health of the very forests we humans need to fight climate change.

As elders who love and cherish our natural environment, we take seriously our duty to preserve our land, water and air for the generations that follow us. We have witnessed the escalating sacrifice of wild and public lands to resource development. We have seen how the pendulum can swing, sometimes with an eye to conservation and the future and at other times myopically favoring the short-term profit of the very few.

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On Friday, Aug. 10 at 5:30 p.m., we will attend the Stand for Our Land Rally at the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs. We will stand for clean air and water, open spaces, wild places and a hopeful future for our children. We will peacefully raise our voices and ask Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to respect the will of the people. We will Stand for Our Land.

Sally Claassen

Cynthia Collyard

Melissa Hampton

Cristina Harmon

Catherine Maloney

Marilyn McCaulley

Diane R Miller

Barbara Vasquez

Nancy Working

Northwest Colorado Chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness