Shakespeare's Sister reminded me that we need to voice our disapproval of a US Forest Service proposal to sell off $1 billion worth of public lands (including 85,000 acres from National Forest property, and 730 from the National Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area). We've got about a month to do it! Here's the contact information:
Fax: (202) 205–1604
Snail mail: USDA Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Mailstop 1124, Washington, DC 20250–0003
Here's my email:
Dear Sir or Madame,
I am writing in response to the recent proposal to sell off one billion dollars worth of public lands, including 85,000 from National Forest property. I am adamantly and passionately opposed to this proposition. Having grown up in Hood River County, Oregon, I have a very personal reason for desiring that these publicly owned lands remain so. Seven hundred and thirty acres of this supposedly "expendable" land would come from the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, a beloved area for those in my hometown, and for all of those who come to visit our area to ski on Mt. Hood, windsurf on the Columbia River, hike in the unspoiled wilderness, and generally enjoy the outdoors. I believe that preserving land for public use and environmental conservation is essential. Over the course of my life, growing up in the Hood River Valley, I've seen a tremendous amount of development. Land has been parceled off and divided, while more and more houses have cropped up across the previously unspoiled hills. As people move in, trees are chopped down and ecosystems are disturbed. My stepfather works in nuisance animal control, and my family has therefore seen many of the displaced animals that result from these moves toward developing the land. My parents remember how the valley used to be -- it's nearly unrecognizable to them today.
Clearly, not all development is detrimental to communities or even the environment. But as we make decisions about nationally and publicly owned lands, we are ethically bound to consider what the consequences will be in ten years, fifty years, a hundred years. Our country's land is increasingly urbanized, suburbanized, and privately owned. When I take walks along the irrigation canal behind my parents' home in Oregon, I see "No Trespassing" signs and fences. And yet people in this country deeply believe in publicly owned lands that our communities can both enjoy and preserve for future generations. Whether I'm hiking around Devil's Lake in Wisconsin, or reaching the summit of Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, or venturing with my mother along the same trails on Mt. Hood that she hiked as a young girl, I see other people enjoying these public resources, away from all the "No Trespassing" signs.
Selling public lands means that our wealthiest citizens will increasingly own the resources that our communities have a shared right to both protect and preserve. In fifty years, I hope that I can still recognize the Hood River Valley. I hope that we won't be living in a world where we can't see the forests for the "No Trespassing" signs.
I urge you to put a stop to this proposition.