Western View: The Role of People in Wilderness Planning

Taylor Hillman Features, Western View

cattle ranching
A while ago we talked about protests against the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). Lately, I’ve been hearing from some cattlemen and others that the BLM isn’t exactly a benign instrument of the will of the people.

Western View: Time to Recognize the Role of People

These people tell me that the very nature of the agency has changed, especially in the last 8 years. These ranchers didn’t want me to get into the particulars of their situation; they still had to deal with the government. But they wanted me to understand that federal regulators really have been stifling citizens’ use of public land.

The government’s job should to balance the interests of the people. At one time, that meant we could go do what we want to that land; mine it, blow it up, over-graze it, then leave it to recharge on its own. Then the environmental movement showed us that was a mistake, that we were destroying ourselves with this rapacious way of thinking. Cattlemen learned to manage their grazing to protect the grass as a resource. Miners learned to recover the land they dug, to rebuild and replant in ways that repaired the damaged they had done.

This was the swing of the pendulum, away from the belief that we could do whatever we want, to an understanding that we are part of a bigger system that we affect, and we learned to manage that impact. But that pendulum kept swinging, and now the government is fully invested in the environmentalists’ side – that we need to keep wilderness pristine, without humans.

That’s just wrong.

This land is our land, by our birthright, it is a shared national heritage that no one group – cattlemen, miners, or environmentalists – holds sole title to. No less than the trees and the stars, we have a right to be here, to be on that land, to nurture it and protect it but also to use it, to be a part of it.

It’s time for the federal government to rein in their watchdogs. They need to open the gates and let the people on their land – control the impact of course, but don’t just lock it away.

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.