Trashing our Treasures: Congressional Assault on the Best of America
National parks, forests and public lands are essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems, safeguarding our waterways, cleaning up the air we breathe, protecting wildlife habitat, and providing opportunities for Americans to connect with the outdoors. Recreation and tourism on public lands also contributes to a $646 billion outdoor industry economy that supports 6.1 million jobs. This report showcases the Great Basin National Park and surrounding wilderness in Nevada at risk of resource exploitation and development if attacks on our public lands are signed into law.
Despite the critical role that this landscape plays in protecting water quality and ecosystems, as well as providing outdoor recreation opportunities, too many of our public lands are under attack. Development, mining, drilling, and logging could destroy essential habitat for plants and wildlife and ruin the experience for nature-goers. The environmental laws that protect public lands are crucial to safeguarding them from this type of exploitation and preserving treasured places for future generations. Many Congressional leaders have been working to dismantle these very protections and open treasured landmarks to resource exploitation and development. This report highlights some of the most egregious attacks, which puts some of the most sensitive and beloved places in the Great Basin National Park at risk of being lost forever.
The bills that threaten them include:
- Wilderness & Roadless Release Act (H.R. 1581), by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). This bill would open roadless areas in national forests and wilderness study areas on public lands to road building, development and resource extraction. This would leave some of the most sensitive lands in the country vulnerable to habitat destruction and pollution.
- Land Division Act (H.R. 2852), by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT). [Official name: Action Plan for Public Lands and Education Act] This bill would force the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service to give away, free of charge, 5% of their lands to each Western state. This would leave 30 million acres in the west vulnerable to resource extraction and development.
Previous members of Congress worked with local communities decades ago to preserve the Great Basin National Park for generations to come. The lands highlighted in this report are but a few of the hundreds of places that have been set aside for their natural and recreational value—undoing the laws that keep them safe would be devastating to the integrity of our lands and our national character.