Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, Part 2, because our voices matter:
This land is our land
Re "Free the American West," Opinion, March 7
Robert Nelson betrays his allegiances with his punctuation: "public" land, "progressive" era — he treats them derisively, barely cloaking his contempt that these are indeed public birthrights of all Americans saved only by the foresight and constant vigilance of the American people and progressive leaders like Teddy Roosevelt.
According to Nelson, some of our land has great commercial value while, apparently, a smaller sub-set has "national importance." An even smaller sliver is "environmentally special."
Nelson tells us that timber-rich forests are primarily useful for commercial uses. Not a peep about the importance of a healthy watershed or the benefits of carbon sequestration, biodiversity and vibrant tourism.
Obviously he is a shill for oil, gas, lumber and mining interests that already get ridiculously cheap access and use of public land and extraction of the wealth within it. I hope he enjoys his public pension well East of the Mississippi.
The ideas outlined by Nelson would not "free" the American West. They would, in fact, have the opposite effect, locking up millions of acres that are currently publicly accessible.
The reason we are allowed to hunt, fish, hike, etc. on these lands is because they are federal land; federal land is public land (except for military and Indian reservations).
Does the author really think that counties or states have the money to manage these lands? Of course not. They would be sold to private interests, which would mean subdivisions, mining, drilling and logging on these lands, along with high fences and signs reading "Private Property, Keep Out! "
As America's population grows, we need more public land, not less.
Enough with the greed! I'm tired of hearing right- wingers who want to commercialize everything in their sights. If left unchecked, they would turn this great country into an urban jungle. Leave us our American West, please.