An Important Lesson For Presidents

Jan 22, 2018

On Dec. 4, 2017, President Donald Trump reduced the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Monuments in Utah by some two million acres. As it stands right now, it is the largest rollback of federally protected lands in our nation’s history.

In 2015, there were 307 million recreational visits to our sites in the National Park System. So, on one hand, we had almost as many visits to our national parks and monuments as we have citizens. But, on the other, we have a president who saw fit to reduce two national monuments by the combined size of Delaware and about half of Rhode Island.

What I fear is that, once again, we have a small group of citizens who -- rather than standing in awe the natural splendor of say Sequoia or the Painted Desert -- see dollar signs. Those same people now have the ear of some powerful people in Washington.

I do have an idea, though, that could permanently embed the lesson for future presidential administrations imparted by Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir more than 100 years ago. Every incoming president would be required to do two things between the election and inauguration.

First, learn why both Roosevelt and Muir crusaded so passionately to preserve what millions of us can enjoy today.

Second, visit as many parks, monuments and wildlife refuges as possible.

Once a president-elect has seen places ranging from the Everglades to the Grand Canyon, it shouldn’t be hard to say “No, you are not mining here. No, you are not drilling here.”

I’m Andrew Nelson, and that’s my perspective.