Dear Marginalized, undereducated, Fox News-watching, gun-toting white boy in Oregon blaming government regulations on National Forest land for your lot in life instead of blaming government de-regulation in trade and finance,
I don’t know if any of you can access the internet to read this. Hell, I’m not sure you can read.
What I DO know is that you should immediately stop occupying Malheur National Wildlife Preserve in Oregon with weapons and then kill all these really aggressively idiotic attempts to seize control of federal public lands for increased usage by private industry.
I want you to think long and hard about your endgame. How do you, a group of undereducated hicks, think you’ll benefit by a decreased federal presence on the west’s public lands? Let’s pretend that, by dint of your skin color, you get away with threatening the lives of federal law enforcement officers when your fellow Americans get shot 16 times for running past a city cop with a knife. Let’s pretend that you then convince enough other dispossessed far western mouthbreathers that the gubmint has overstepped its bounds by trying to keep the range healthy and prosecuting those who would do it harm or abuse their rights upon it because you convincingly play army dress-up and tote guns to impress military fetishists and the weak minded among us. Then, let’s pretend, although it’s not really a stretch, that you can convince the other idiots you send to Congress in the west that they should try to cede federal land back to the states.
What then? Our federal government can already barely keep up with maintenance of the range and its wild inhabitants plus your subsidized grazing, logging, mining and extraction. Even if you got the keys to public lands they’d get swindled out from under you by the first professional outfit who can extract all the value in 10 months–maybe hiring you to do the dirty work for somebody who has all his teeth and musical tastes extending beyond Skynyrd and the old Monday Night Football guy–and leave you and the other broke-ass crackers in your town in a worse fix than you’re in now. Any victory you won allowing industry to rev up again (more than it already does!) on public lands would last for five fucking seconds.
I used to live on the Sierra Nevada’s western slope in California and that place is ground zero for what your future would look like if you didn’t have the feds around to care for your lands. The bill at the end of the month down there looks like this: A gazillion taxpayer dollars for the upkeep of the “forest” the kindly old timber operator straight-razored to grow back as acre upon un-huntable, un-fishable acre of fire-prone scrubland. Another few million for testing the water in your poisonous rivers for arsenic and cyanide after the mining interest which monetized everything worth having in your dirt skipped town to do blow and get lapdances in Montreal. As a nice bonus he’ll also lay off the breadwinner of every third family in town on his way out the door. Maybe he’ll leave you a cozy community center that’ll seat enough people for your county’s inevitable forum on meth addiction. Then you peel off 80 percent of your remaining stack to attempt to train all the high school graduates who never bothered with math past algebra or reading past See Spot Run because they were damn sure they’d have work in the mine or on a logging truck. Go ahead and spend the rest on all the attendant problems that occur in a county where the two biggest employers are the public school district and the prison, the former definitely serving as a training ground for the latter if the state deems you lucky enough to host felons and guards. Maybe you’ll get a Days Inn next door which serves up five minimum wage positions to go with its Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage Snackers for visitors.
Face facts: By opening up the places where we hunt, fish, hike, bike, camp, cut our Christmas trees and maybe make a little money grazing, skiing, mining and lumbering; you’re setting up a bust. You’re playing the useful hillbilly to a bunch of cutthroat businessmen who have no use for you beyond your ability to rile up stupid people and maybe dig some holes at the same wage your father dug holes for in 1982. In a matter of months, a year or maybe years, you’ll be looking at land made immeasurably shittier by a guy with a cabin in a much nicer forest somewhere else. You won’t even be able to console yourself with a nice hike out to your favorite pond. It’ll be a pit mine.