Keeping Public Lands in Public Hands:

Something Clinton and Trump Agree On?

By Andy Buchsbaum

Our national public lands include our national parks, forests, monuments, wildlife refuges and million of acres of land fish and wildlife depend on. Earlier this month the National Wildlife Federation and 41 other wildlife and sportsmen’s organizations sent a letter to each of the presidential candidates asking that they make a commitment to keep public lands in public hands. Image: Pixabay

Our national public lands should not be for sale. Our national parks and refuges and other public lands belong to all of us — they are our birthright and heritage. For hunters and anglers, wildlife watchers and hikers, millions of national park visitors, all of us who are taxpayers — these are our lands.

Following this fundamental tenet, earlier this month the National Wildlife Federation and 41 other wildlife and sportsmen’s organizations sent a letter to each of the presidential candidates asking that they make a clear commitment to keep public lands in public hands, and oppose wholesale transfer of America’s parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands to state or private interests.

After the release of this letter, Hillary Clinton sent a response letter to the groups with a commitment to keep public lands in public hands, as well as to double the size of the recreation economy — currently at $646 billion — during her tenure as president, if elected.

And just last Thursday, Donald Trump, Jr. said “We don’t want to divest the land. That’s one of the places where we’ve really broken away from conservative dogma.” He was speaking in an interview with NBC’s Grand Junction, CO television station before an event in Grand Junction last Thursday.

We were very happy to hear Donald Trump Jr. address this issue directly, further stating in the interview that “There should be no transfer back to the states where they can just unabashedly sell them to developers to make up for a budget shortfall.” But, we continue to wait for an affirmative commitment from the Trump campaign itself — from Trump himself — putting the question of his position to rest.

Trump Jr.’s words come in response to a growing chorus from sportsmen and conservationists around the nation, demanding that the presidential candidates — as well as candidates for Congress — outline their position on public lands seizure. It’s an issue that is close to the hearts of hunters and anglers. The transfer of public lands to state or private interests would mean lack of access to prime hunting and fishing lands that have been part of family traditions for generations.

Given how important this issue is to everyone who enjoys our nation’s national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, and other public lands, this should be front and center for all candidates running for elected positions from state legislatures straight through to the presidency.

It should be a top tier question at the upcoming presidential debates, and it should be a question which candidates address directly, boldly, and proudly.

Take action to help make that happen: Pledge to help protect our irreplaceable public lands that wildlife depend on and encourage ALL candidates and politicians to do same.

Paid for by the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund. The National Wildlife Action Fund is a 501(c)4