Submitted by Randy Keller
The comment period on reconsideration of the Bears Ears National Monument is open and will close on May 26. This monument was created by President Obama over the objections of the local county governments affected by the land withdrawal. It occurs to me that engaging in dialogue over these types of issues with respect and a willingness to compromise to protect everyone’s important values, could chart a path away from the divisive and destructive politics that prevail in our nation today. Anyway, my comment follows.
Withdrawals of federal land have tremendous impacts on communities in those areas. Impacts may be positive or negative. Such withdrawals should not be accomplished without the utmost respect for the culture, economics and wisdom of the people who live near and who will experience the consequences of the withdrawal. Accordingly, a fair federal policy concerning community impacts should be implemented. I suggest that no withdrawal of federal land should be implemented without the approval of the local communities, as indicated by approval of affected county and tribal governments.
This would have many positive impacts. Most importantly, it would show respect for local communities and culture, which are ordinarily minority interests compared to the urban constituency that often drives federal land decisions. It would empower local advocacy groups (environmental and others) to advocate their causes in local communities, where a decision would have meaning. It would encourage meaningful compromise and protection of local interests, which ordinarily include a strong land ethic. It would begin to bridge the gap between urban and rural interests which seem to be so divisive in our national politics.
Undoubtedly, national level urban constituencies have the power to make federal land use policy without consideration of minority rural interests. Restraining this power would show proper respect for the culture and vibrancy of the less powerful communities of our nation, which coincidentally cover the greatest area of the country. Great power should not be used to the detriment of fragile communities. It is time for true dialogue and compromise among our various communities – rather than vanquishment of the one by the other. Perhaps this could begin a process by which we protect both our precious lands and our precious communities.
Comments can be made at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001.