Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stand Up for Public Lands on Earth Day

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul – John Muir

Dear Friends,

Our souls are nourished by time spent in the wild untamed areas of God’s creation.  The wild powerfully reminds us that humans are just a part of Creation and our wisdom is limited. Healthy wild lands not only support biodiversity, they play an important role in mitigating greenhouse gases and providing climate resiliency. Most of our nation's wild areas belong to “we the people.”

America's public lands are held in trust for the common good. Sadly, these lands - from recently created National Monuments such as Bears Ears in Utah and Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon, to proposed wilderness areas - are under threat. Our Christian faith calls us to protect wild lands for many reasons.  The glory and wisdom of the Creator are revealed in special and powerful ways in places where humans are only visitors, not the dominant force.   

Ground zero for threats to public land is Utah, where the state legislature is working to have federal lands returned to the state for activities such as mining and drilling.  Utah legislators are also working to create new roads through environmentally sensitive and culturally important public lands.  Most of these lands are under the control of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

For over three decades, citizens in Utah and throughout the US have been working to protect Utah’s spectacular wild lands through a proposal called the America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. It would protect 9.2 million acres of BLM lands in Utah for future generations. These proposed wilderness areas surround some our nation’s most stunning national parks such as Zion, Canyon-lands, Arches and Capitol Reef. Recently, there has been a push to drill close to Zion National Park. A canyon with rich archeological resources vulnerable to looting was just opened up to off-road vehicles. Groups such as Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), Sierra Club and NRDC are working hard to ensure these lands are protected.

On April 6, a House version of the America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act bill was introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA47) with 30 original cosponsors. It may be introduced in the Senate as early as April 24 by Senator Durbin (D-IL).  PEC urges you to call your Senator to sign on as an original co-sponsor or to urge them to sign on to the bill today. You may also use this on-line letter from SUWA.

Once the bill is introduced, please thank your senator if she or he is an original co-sponsor. You can find the list of co-sponsors here (thanks to SUWA).

Why not look at the House list and see if your representative is one of the original cosponsors there? If they are, they love getting thank-you calls—just call (202) 224-3121 to be patched through.

God’s wild lands are under great threat. One of the many anti-public land bills under consideration in the 115th Congress would undo the Antiquities Act that has allowed presidents to protect ecologically and scientifically important lands and cultural treasures for over 110 years. Congress needs to hear that you want to keep public lands in public hands for the common good and for God's glory.

Thank you for celebrating Earth Day by standing up for God’s wild lands!


Jenny Holmes

PEC Moderator, 2005-2011

You are the part-owner of 84 million protected acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes in America’s 400 national parks, 670 million acres of wild lands overall. Many Americans have worked since 1872 to ensure that they are preserved for all the generations who follow. Remember, this is your land! – Richard Orr, Outdoor Guide

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