Politicians and (Public) Land*

If anyone’s been on social media they’d know that there’s a lot going on with politics. With most of it, it’s hard to know the difference between the facts, and people’s emotional response. Particularly regarding natural resource management, it’s hard to know what the real impact will be. I normally try to avoid news from pages where I’m not confident who’s posting the information, but in this case I recommend the AltNPS facebook page. To help give objective information, I’m going to give information about, and my interpretation of what’s going on with public lands.

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I’m intentionally sharing photos of McCullough Peaks and wildlife other than mustangs. I think the stereotype of HMAs is the Pryors, and I want to show that there’s more wildlife than just horses.

Hiring freeze: It’s not a secret that Trump is a global warming denier. When 99% of climate scientists have science to prove you wrong, and a lot of non-climate scientists defer to the experts in that particular field it can get awkward when those scientists are also your employees.
The first part of this was limiting free speech. As climate change resources were taken off the White House website, government agencies were banned from posting to twitter. Thus AltNPS, and other alternate social media sites for government agencies were born.
I’m not entirely sure what the goal to the hiring freeze is, but I’m guessing it’s to make sure the people that do get hired aren’t going to speak up against Trump. There’s also talk of dismantling the EPA, so I’d imagine a government agency with fewer employees would be easier to deal with.
Regardless of the purpose behind the hiring freeze, there are a lot of reasons why it is not a good idea. The main one: there’s a lot more use for climate science than global warming. By ignoring environmental science, it puts the health of people, and the earth at risk. The EPA stands for Environmental Protection Act, so unless Trump has a plan to replace the EPA with something that will also protect the environment we need it.
I also think that although different government agencies have different purposes, they should all offer support to each other as needed. The EPA does the job of making sure the earth, and people stay healthy, but the NPS uses interoperation to educate people about how to get involved, and be stewards about the environment.
The good news is, the NPS is now able to hire seasonal workers. With a record number of visitors, it will help with tourist season, but it still seems like a decision made by someone who doesn’t know how science, or government works. It’s like they got enough negative response that the administration is trying to appease the public, but not actually follow through on what the public wants.

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Deserts, and Pronghorn are common aspects of HMAs.

**Selling public land: Since so many members of the public opposed the bill proposing the sale of “less desirable” public land, it has been canceled. However, it’s still unnerving that it was brought up in the first place. It doesn’t send a message that those on the natural resource committee understand natural resource management. To me it looks more like an opportunity to give those with money the status of owning formally public land.
There are so many benefits to public land. Since they’re off the beaten track, they can provide stunning views, and solitude. People that do visit public land boost local economy due to tourism. Since public lands are free, they can be opportunities to see places that can be just as beautiful as national parks, without competing with as many tourists, or spending as much money.
I don’t think canceling a bill automatically means it’s not going to be brought up again. There’s a lot going on right now, not just in regard to our natural resources. I think there’s going to be a need for a lot of fact checking in the next few years. Rather than alienate  scientists and other experts, I think we should use their knowledge.

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I think this might be a bell’s sparrow, but bird ID isn’t my strong suit.

As an outdoor educator, I’m personally affected by the hiring freeze, but the truth is, everyone will be affected in some way if science is ignored. I can understand if it can be hard to know how to prioritize what to respond to, but I think it’s at the very least people’s responsibility to be informed. At the very most, the more informed they are about an issue, the more likely they will be to influence law makers.

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Plant ID isn’t my strong suit either, but it’s nice to see something other than sage every once in a while. I also find it amazing to see how well it withstood almost non-stop spring rain. 

*If you support Trump heads up: you may not like this post.

**The public land that I am describing in this post is the areas that were listed as “$0” value.

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