Along with cultivating fear, hatred, demagoguery — and the abandonment of all common sense, reason and facts, the GOP also wants to sell off to the highest (or lowest?) bidder our public lands.

Written by Kyle Magin

Asserting strong sentiments on public land use, at this particularly perilous point in U.S. history, feels frivolous.

Being a hunter, hiker, camper, Sierra Club member or urban park-going tree-hugger and pointing out your concerns on matters concerning your tribe feels odd here on the precipice of the coming race war and continuation of the endless attacks by radical Islamists.

But, I’m here to urge you not to take your eye off this ball.

Republicans adopted a party platform this week in Cleveland to “immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states.”

If that statement feels open-ended, it’s because it is. And, if that scares you, it’s because it should. In lay terms, the GOP wants its state legislators to be able to sell of federally-owned public land indiscriminately and approve mining, drilling and grazing leases across it in a bid to really exhaust our last few public resources for profit.

We’ve talked about this before, but the GOP’s present-day iteration would like nothing better than to crack open and exploit your favorite granite rock face, mountain biking trail or fishing hole if it’s on public land, be that National Park, National Monument, National Forest, National Wilderness, BLM rangeland or any of the myriad designations we give America’s wild places. They don’t mind if pumpjacks destroy the silence of the woods you learned to hunt with your grandpa and great uncles, or if more lights crowd out the stars above your family’s long-visited campsites.

No; right now, even amidst the bombs and bullets and terrorists trucks and cop slayers, they’re plotting to steal your public lands out from under you. They’re working to those ends right this very second.

Congressmen Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop (Rs-where the hell else? Utah) passed a spending bill this week blocking funding for President Obama to declare a new Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah. The President’s plan would protect some beautiful scenery, hiking and tribal land; ideas antithetical to Utah lawmakers salivating over potential campaign donations from energy developers. Chaffetz and Bishop are advancing a plan that would keep a few trails operating while propping the door open for anybody looking to develop the land. There’s is an early salvo in a GOP campaign to do the same to public lands throughout the West.

Now is a good time to rise up and say no.

Now is time to contact your local legislators and urge them to say no, too. Check on your favorite park or public space. Odds are, there’s a backwoods public servant nibbling at the edges, looking for ways to slice it up and let the wolves in.

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