A long time ago, there was a man named Richard Wetherill. I don’t want to give him undue credit, because there were a lot of men like him, but I am just using him an an example.
Let’s start with the East Coast. At the time the East Coast was settled, the idea was to kill the Natives and parcel off the land. This is not something that was uncommon for the British Empire or the Spanish Empire. And in fact, even the French Empire was getting involved here and there.
However, as people moved west, something changed. Folks started to think that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to kill all the Native Americans, and that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to develop all the land.
Richard Wetherill was one of the folks who felt this way. He lived in Mancos, Colorado and had a trading post where the Ute and Navajo often came to sell blankets and furs, and to buy various things that interested them. He saw the beauty of Colorado and he wanted to see it protected. In addition, he saw sites like Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde where there were ruins from the Anasazi (the ancient Native Americans) and he wanted that history protected.
So he put together a collection of artifacts for the Smithsonian, and he lobbied the President constantly to protect the land the ruins were on, and other area that were beautiful and should be preserved for future generations to enjoy.
This might sound like a boring history lesson, and maybe it is, but there is a point to it:
Lots of people worked very hard to make sure that land in the US was preserved so that it could be enjoyed forever by all Americans. It was meant to be our birthright as citizens of the United States to have wild, untamed forests to explore. We were meant to save plants and animals from extinction, and to ensure that they always had undeveloped places to live.
And this was unprecedented. This was one of those examples of great American thinking. In South Korea their native animals have been extinct for so long that they scarcely remember what they were. All the large animals are gone in England, and they are now fighting to try to save hedgehogs; one of the few wild animals they have left. The story is the same all over the globe: land was not set aside. No one cared enough. And those nations regret their actions.
So why are we talking about this?
That would be because House Republicans already opened miscellaneous public land up to logging and mining an made sure that it was utterly destroyed. But until now, they haven’t been able to get into National Parks. Those are the last beautiful spaces in the US.
Now, they are sponsoring a bill to go destroy our National Parks.
We can not let this happen.
This land has been wild for all of history. It is home to plants and animals that will go extinct if we destroy it. We have no right to take the beauty of nature away from our children and grandchildren.
So please call your Senators and Representatives. Write to the White House and to anyone who will listen.
Don’t let them take our land and destroy it.