Op-ed: Interior Dept. is cutting the public out of public lands

Anne Shields
|October 07, 2019

Interior Department is cutting the public out of public lands planning

Interior Department is cutting the public out of public lands planning
© Getty Images

Having served at the Department of the Interior for nearly a decade, I know what it looks like to have our public lands and their values front of mind. But the department’s current leadership is cutting the public out of public lands planning, and effectively dismantling the agency responsible for protecting our nation’s most important landscapes.

These lands are a core part of America’s heritage, and the administration seems hellbent on destroying them. This fast-and-furious assault on tens of millions of acres of national monuments, cultural sites and other iconic lands ignores the department’s mandate to conserve certain lands as well as the will of the people.

It’s essential that Americans act now, and let the administration know we won’t accept our public lands being handed over to oil and gas companies. Whether you’re a hiker or a hunter, biker or business owner, Democrat or Republican — our public lands belong to you. We must defend our common heritage together and protect the wild places we love.

Over the next 16 months, Americans will see more than 42 million acres of their most important public lands under review and at risk to oil and mineral development. These landscapes are important economic engines for rural economies across the West, and millions of Americans visit them every year. Every decision made about how they’re managed will impact communities that rely on them for recreation, tourism, and healthy air and water.

The Bureau of Land Management has a mandate to protect these places for multiple uses. This includes conserving areas important for protecting America’s natural heritage, wildlife, indigenous cultures, and a thriving recreation community that fuels local economies. These National Conservation Lands comprise less than 15 percent of the roughly 250 million acres BLM manages, and until two years ago were managed with a conservation priority for decades by both Democratic and Republican administrations.

This administration’s recent decisions aren’t partisan — they’re a blatant strategy to ignore bipartisan support for public lands and hand them over to their oil and gas industry friends. 

Click here to read the complete op-ed in The Hill...



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About Anne Shields
Anne Shields is the Former Chief of Staff of the Department of the Interior and a Board Member for the Conservation Lands Foundation.
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