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Op-Ed Columns

Op-Ed | President Trump, Please Read ‘Desert Solitaire’

In a 1973 TV spot, the United States Forest Service sage Smokey Bear admonished that “one careless second with a match and America the beautiful becomes America the ugly.” So what would Smokey say now when a few careless seconds with a pen allowed President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to remove protections from two million acres of precious American wilderness? If courts uphold Trump’s executive orders of last December, they would reduce southern Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by 85 and 46 percent, respectively, constituting the biggest rollback of federally protected land in American history.

Op-Ed | Volunteers In The National Parks

More and more people are visiting our national parks, and some parks are not just busy but getting overwhelmed and overcrowded. Meanwhile, the prospect of more money being budgeted for more staff is unlikely. Consequently, many parks should begin considering using volunteers, and those that do….should consider using more volunteers and using volunteers in more meaningful ways.

Op-Ed | The Shared Experience of National Public Lands Day

For more than a decade, I have had the privilege to witness and participate in the wonderfully communal experience of National Public Lands Day (NPLD). On this exhilarating day, Americans from all walks of life, families, and neighbors, work side-by-side to give back to the parks and open spaces that give them so much. Now in its 24th year, National Public Lands Day consistently shows that the spirit of good will is alive and well.

Op-Ed | After Interior Secretary Zinke’s First 100 Days, The Future Looks Grim For National Parks

Interior Secretary Zinke has described himself as a “Theodore Roosevelt” Republican and pledged to make park issues a focus of his tenure, including tackling the National Park Service’s more than $11.3 billion maintenance backlog and keeping park rangers on the job. But is he living up to these promises?

Op-Ed | Bears Ears And Grand Staircase: A Plea To Interior Secretary Zinke

Dear Mr. Secretary, I hope you enjoyed your recent visit to Utah, and especially to Cedar Mesa and the new Bears Ears National Monument down in San Juan County. I read that you visited Butler Wash, among other places, and got a glimpse of the ancient Puebloan dwellings that are found throughout this monument. As you gazed up at those venerable stone structures tucked in beneath the cliff, I hope that you thought for a minute about the transience of civilizations and the need to ensure a better future for our own lives here in the American West.

Op-Ed | Some People Have Always Hated National Monuments—Until They Love Them

Last week, President Trump launched an unprecedented assault on America’s public lands when he ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to evaluate whether dozens of national monuments should be rescinded or reduced in size. It wasn't the first such attack, and more times than not in the past the same voices that once warned of economies destroyed by lands protection come to see that there’s more value in protecting a place than stripping it of minerals and trees.

Op-Ed | There’s No Place Like Home

I can never go home again. The land that I grew up on, an estate not far from NYC that my parents cared for, but that belonged to someone else, is now in the hands of a new owner and a new family entrusted with its care. That land, to some degree, told me who I am. The trees, the ground beneath my feet and the wildlife provided the details to a family story that grew and changed over time, as family stories do. It held the particulars of my parent’s journey from a small, southern town to New York in the 1950’s, as a poor black couple with big dreams for themselves and their children. Without access to that story, it would be easy to feel unmoored, rootless, and insecure about my place, my past and my future. Who am I? Where did I come from? What does the future hold?

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