Tom Flynn tracks policy related to conservation and recreation for the Outdoor Alliance. Most Fridays, he summarizes the week’s top outdoor policy related headlines. With questions, news tips and angry hate mail, email him at tom [at] outdooralliance [dot] net.
Government Turns the Lights Back On
This week’s news in one sentence: the government was off, but now it’s back on. National Parks, Wildlife Refuges and facilities on other federal lands reopened, and people rushed back in. The climbers in Yosemite that were told by megaphone earlier this week to “Stop recreating,” were allowed to happily continue their climbs. Amongst all the bad, there was some good news during the shutdown. Often overlooked state parks got a well-deserved boost in visitation, including Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah, which boasts a great mountain bike loop. And just last weekend, the Department of Interior approved state funding to reopen some of the top parks in Utah, Colorado and Arizona. No doubt, if you were one of the lucky few that managed to launch on the Grand Canyon during that window, you are stoked.
But amongst the many more grievous impacts of the shutdown, one fall out was those that came out of the woodwork to claim that the whole thing makes the case for state ownership of public lands. Not so. These arguments fail to realize that as bad as the shutdown was, state ownership would be worse. To take but one example, forest service land remained public land and largely accessible (even if the bathrooms were locked). Under state ownership, much of this land would necessarily be sold to finance the management of what was left, eliminating access entirely. More land would be sold and gone under state management than was ever shut off by the shutdown. The more accurate conclusion to draw from the 16 days of shutdown? People care about our federal lands, so keep the government on and give our lands the funding they deserve. At the very least, don’t add insult to injury as some did this week, by dragging the National Park Service before a Congressional committee and berating them for doing their job.