US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Is this land made for you and me?

Liz Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

It sounds like Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL) isn't singing along to the tune that our nation's public lands should be shared by all. Instead, he believes that right now we should sell our national parks to help raise revenues.

At a recent town hall meeting, Stearns said the following:

“I got attacked in a previous town meeting for not supporting another national park in this country, a 200-mile trailway. And I told the man that we don’t need more national parks in this country, we need to actually sell off some of our national parks.”

Stearns went on to say that we should be doing whatever any normal family would be doing--instead of asking Uncle Joe for a loan, we should be selling our Cadillacs.

In 2011, Florida’s 11 Cadillacs--oops, national parks--saw more than 10 million visitors and in 2010 generated than $580 million in tourism revenue. Even if you don’t share a concern for the environment or have an appreciation for natural beauty, don’t the economic benefits speak for themselves?

Stearns’ sentiments have been shared by Republican candidate for president Rick Santorum, who told people in Idaho, "We need to get [public land] back into the hands of the states and even to the private sector. And we can make money doing it, we can make money doing it by selling it."

Speaking of quotes from Republicans about national parks, guess which well-known Republican politician said the following: “The establishment of the National Park Service is justified by considerations of good administration, of the value of natural beauty as a National asset, and of the effectiveness of outdoor life and recreation in the production of good citizenship.” Give up? That would be Teddy Roosevelt, speaking in 1912.

Granted, the current Republican party looks much different than Roosevelt’s Republican party of 100 years ago, but maybe today's generation can look back and gain some insight from a fellow party member.

As Roosevelt also said, "There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred."