Nationalizing the West…Again

Nationalizing the West…Again, Daniel
Kemmis, Colorado Springs Independent
George W. Bush came to Washington promising to decentralize
government. However, his administration’s energy policies are
imposing a whole new layer of national policy on the public lands
of the Mountain West, says Daniel Kemmis, an Utne Visionary and
former mayor of Missoula, Montana, who now heads the non-profit
Center for the Rocky Mountain West. It’s no surprise, he says, that
Bush is rewarding his resource-industry contributors with greater
access to the public domain. And within a few years the pendulum
will swing back to the side of the national environmental groups.
Rather than perpetuate this ideological see-saw between
paternalistic national centralizers, Kemmis argues, ‘let’s pick
some national forests and BLM districts where neither national
roadless policies nor national energy policies dictate management
regimes, but where ideologically diverse groups of westerners are
given a decade or so to manage the public land under a
congressionally imposed mandate to manage for ecological
sustainability.’ He continues: ‘Those who argue that only national
policy can protect western landscapes should watch what national
policy may be about to do to the West.’
–Leif Utne
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