Connecting with and Protecting our Public Lands

I’ll admit it: I’m afraid.  If this election cycle has made one thing abundantly clear, it's the existence of a seething undercurrent of disdain for the environment and for those who work on its behalf, at a time when evidence of ecological crisis is mounting.  It defies logic, and the distance between the world I experience (that is beautiful, finite, and warming) and the world envisioned by many who currently hold the nation’s attention frightens me.

Worrisome currents swirl in every direction; at Bark we’re focused on the swelling push to privatize our federal public lands.  The year began with the call streaming out of the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Reserve to privatize lands, which echoed across the country and found fertile ground in the national political imagination.  Now, that call to privatize public lands is elevated to a national election issue

If this movement succeeds, we will see our valuable public lands turned over to state or private ownership to be managed for economic production (right now, Oregon’s state government is selling off the old-growth Elliot State Forest to private timber companies).   Corporate profit, not public benefit, will dictate land management, and the public – that’s me and you! – will lose the ability to advocate for and protect these lands we value for water, wildlife, clean air, recreation, and so much more.

So, when I read things like “The environment is too important to be left to radical environmentalists”* I feel like crawling back in bed and pulling the covers over my head.  Then I take a deep breath and remember there are better ways to face these times.  One of my favorite songs begins with the phrase, “where there's fear there is power” and I remember this when I get afraid.  I remember how much I love about the world, and how it needs me to be a strong voice in its protection.  I remember that there are places like Mt. Hood National Forest just waiting to share their beauty and inspiration with me.
And not just me!  In this time of great division and worry, we need each other to take collective action connecting with, and protecting, our public lands.  All over the country people are standing up in support of keeping public lands open – from the Olympians for Public Lands to a national alliance of recreation businesses and conservation groups. Here at Bark, we’re about to launch our second session of Base Camp – getting folks out in Mt. Hood National Forest and sharing tools to protect it. 

I am afraid for the future.  Perhaps you are too.  But here and now, Bark believes in the power in each of us to create the world we want, despite the whirlpool of madness seeking to suck us under.  Resist that urge to crawl back under the covers, and come join us in the forest and our trainings and events.  Let’s come together in the places we love, share how we to transform our fear into power, and then use that power well! 

 For the forest,

 Brenna Bell, Staff Attorney/NEPA Coordinator