The number of people speaking out and demonstrating against politicians’ efforts to take away our public lands just increased exponentially on July 27th when the outdoor industry mustered thousands of supporters to march in Utah in support of the nation’s public lands.
This celebration of public lands, organized by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), The Conservation Alliance, and Outdoor Alliance, ended at the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City where outdoor industry executives, community leaders, elected officials, and Native American tribal leaders all voiced their support for public lands and urged officials to keep all public lands public for all of us – and for future generations – to enjoy. Marches were also held simultaneously in Medford and Bend in Oregon, Las Cruces in New Mexico, Ely in Minnesota, and Mammoth Lakes in California, demonstrating a widespread support for public lands across America.
Many politicians main argument is that public lands could be used to generate revenue for their states instead of just being used for free public recreation. But earlier this year, OIA released a national Outdoor Recreation Report that found the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually and directly sustains 7.6 million American jobs. That is a strong rebuttal to land grabbing politicians’ revenue generating argument.
RV sales are also up. A record nine million US households now own an RV, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. The industry has traditionally relied on retirees to drive growth, but now more younger buyers are getting behind the wheel. And in another report, the 2014 American Camping Report, which was prepared by the Outdoor Foundation with help from the Coleman Company, 41 million Americans went camping in 2013. That’s 14% of the United States population. The Mountain West (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico), has the highest percentage of campers, with 21% of the population going camping. Add all the numbers and that’s a lot of people using public lands.
Why am I telling you this? I’m afraid that if we are too complacent, adopting the current actions of these land-grabbers as the new normal, shrugging it off as just politicians being politicians, one day we will wake up and find our public lands gone – and we will never get them back. And that thought is terrifying. ll keep our personal antennas up and speak out, write our legislators, and spread what is happening through our social networks whenever we spot another attempt to remove “public” from our lands. Remember, This Land is Our Land, and we have every right – and the responsibility – to resist attempts to take them away.
All of us must keep our personal antennas up and speak out, write our legislators, and spread what is happening through our social contacts and networks whenever we spot another attempt to remove “public” from our lands. Remember, This Land is Our Land, and we have every right – and the responsibility – to resist attempts by any political entity or party to take them away.