The reelection of President Obama combined with Democrats gaining seats in the both houses of Congress and a clear repudiation of the extreme views of the GOP provide those of us who treasure our public lands an important opportunity.
The community of sportsmen, outdoor enthusiasts and public land advocates have a chance to press for those things that will secure a legacy for public lands and to defeat the agenda of the remaining right wing zealots who may see the election as a reason to double down on their assault on public lands.
The opportunity lies in showing Congress that public lands are essential to our quality of life, a critical economic contributor and that the American people value them.
To Carpe this particular Diem public land advocates must present a united front around a common agenda. With that agenda in hand they need to present a clear and compelling message that without our public lands a important part of the U.S. economy is placed in jeopardy and the American public will lose critical recreation, health and environmental infrastructure.
The good news is a lot of groundwork has been done. Coalitions, trade associations and non-governmental organizations have been tirelessly at work gathering and sharing economic and public opinion information, creating messages that give meaning to that data and identifying congressional champions to help transform that information into legislative action.
In addition, the Obama administration has shown its support for public lands. The America’s Great Outdoors initiative is a strategic conservation and recreation agenda and provides important information about public land success and the views of the American people.
Can these groups, with somewhat different agendas, find time to sit down and craft a common and more importantly an achievable agenda? Can they agree that the opportunity to achieve durable public policy is fleeting and that if we don’t speak with one voice then our chances of success is diminished? That remains to be seen.
Now is the time for the leaders of the coalitions, trade associations and NGOs to reach out to each other and commit to a common agenda, sharing resources and working together. If that happens then durable public lands policy can be achieved.
Stay tuned! In coming posts I will write about what the agenda might include and who the champions might be.