Sarah Woodmansee: Public land choices impact future
Federal public lands are managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior. Activities for management are funded as parts of the federal budgeting process and by fees for leases and products from these lands, like timber oil, gas, mining, grazing, recreation and various others. The term, ” land of many uses,” conveys the purposes of being set aside and sequestered for the future as well as use for public benefit now.
Nonrenewable products cannot be reproduced or replenished, and in the future, they will be more expensive and scarcer. Fuels like petroleum products are essential for our present wellbeing. They occur on private and public lands managed by various government agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, or by individuals.
These valuable resources are so important that the nation has already sequestered some of them as reserves for future use. Production of oil and gas from wells in some areas is expanding at a real cost to the ability of the environment around them to recover a useful level of productivity.
Agencies have a set of “best management practices” to follow in order to mitigate or minimize the damages involved in these activities. Oil and gas production and export, coal and other mineral extractions will result in losses for all of us, now and in the future because they are limited and finite. Looking forward, extraction of these non-renewable fuels now will absolutely result in a loss to all of us including future generations.
There are many other public land services. These are natural services that benefit ranchers, farmers, wildlife, the recreation industry and recreation. Management of these lands and their production of renewable services and products must center on the health and well-being of the land where they are found. We should be thinking about saving these non-renewable resources for future generations.
How can we manage for the present and the future?
Public lands can be used for development of alternative fuel generation and for mitigation of some of the issues facing us in a warming climate. Forests and grasslands can aid in regulating carbon dioxide here and around the globe. Water can be used for energy production as an alternative to gas and coal fired power plants. Open land can be set aside for solar farms.
Choosing to manage our lands for their health and the natural services they give is the approach we need to use. Good management can continue to sustain timber, range, wildlife, soils and water quality.
Production and distribution of oil and gas both for domestic use and for export is a practice that will end in fewer supplies for us, and in the end, there may be no more. Petroleum is an uncertain resource.
The Secretary of the Department of the Interior Ryan Zinke and the U.S. Congress are mainly responsible for our public lands. Congress is considering legislation meant to enable removal of petroleum products on public lands and to reduce the protective management of them, in part for export. House Bills 6087, 6106 and 6107, 6088 and 5859 are bills that will remove critical protections of the natural environment and increase the control of private interests for production. The BLM can be reached online for comments on leases they intend to grant for production.
Caring for our public lands is imperative. Contact the BLM and Rep. Scott Tipton, now, and urge them to provide wise management .
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