Milky Way from a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

Ready to go camping this summer?

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Wilderness Society Tweeted: Starry sky from near Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bryce Bradford

Bryce Bradford captured the Milky Way from Beaver Meadows in Rocky Mountain National Park.


2 Responses to Milky Way from a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Kirien, thanks for that observation.

    On Twitter, a couple of people gave me heat for suggesting that Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were proposing to sell off the National Parks. “Only BLM lands,” one fellow eventually said.

    I have found only one text of a proposal, and there is no exemption for National Park lands in their schemes.

    Utah’s legislature, and Nevada’s legislature, have passed laws demanding all federal lands be turned over to the states. No exception for the National Parks, which led to opposition to the bills before they were passed and to doing anything to execute the laws now.

    When I worked in the bowels of conservative Republicana, I often was delegated to public lands and environmental issues. During the “Sagebrush Rebellion,” when Orrin Hatch led the way on these bills, we shared an airplane ride back to D.C. in which he seriously questioned me about how to make such a land transfer bill be taken seriously (they’ve been proposed on and off since the 1940s, usually from right-wing, anti-government Members, and none of them were taken seriously). I told him the first point would be to take the National Parks out of the pool of lands that could be transferred.

    Sagebrush Rebels included a lot of people who held private lands inside National Parks, old homesteads or just cabin sites that were there before the park was designated. These lands are known as “in-holdings,” and the people as “in-holders.” They are among the most vocal critics of all federal land management. They are all strict Locke-ians on the point that liberty can only be achieved if private property is held and defended as sacred — especially their little cabin in the woods, which they say must trump all public policy and the Constitution. (I may exaggerate for some in-holders, but I assure you I do not exaggerate much, and for some, I understate their ardence.)

    Plus, we had many miners and big mining companies show us the maps of exactly where was the coal, oil and mineral stores on Wilderness lands, Forest lands, and National Parks, that they wanted to mine if a transfer of title could occur.

    That doesn’t include the few people who had grander plans, like the guy who asked us to envision how great a tourist attraction Bryce Canyon National Park would be with a roller-coaster and other rides, and how Disney-fication of Utah’s National Parks would turn Loa, Utah, into a metropolis not unlike Anaheim.

    So Hatch was unhappy with my suggestion. He’d introduced an earlier bill (not on my watch), and it went nowhere. When it came down to crunch time on introducing the bill, and he had great difficulty getting cosponsors, I again brought up the common-sense notion of stating clearly in the bill that National Parks were off the table. I think he knew he was right, but he knew his supporters wouldn’t like it. We had a two-week running debate, the only time I recall he actually raised his voice — and eventually he caved, and the provision was added to the bill. Hatch didn’t speak to me for two weeks after that.

    The day the bill was introduced — with 16 cosponsors from a much broader political spectrum than any other similar bill previously, I got a call from Pye Chamberlain at UPI (before UPI’s bankruptcy and troubles). Pye was nothing if not acid in his selection of issues to write about; there is so much that goes on in Congress that no reporting team can cover it all. We had a great time sparring over how the bill might have a chance in hell . . .

    Pye finally said that the bill had no chance, because no Wyoming citizen would allow Yellowstone to be turned over to the whims of the state, and certainly no Californian of any stripe would want to give Yosemite to the restrictions of Prop 13 and another governor like Ronald Reagan.

    “That’s why the National Parks are not included in lands that can be transferred, Pye.” I said. “Hatch is serious about this.”

    Long pause. “What?” he said.

    We’d given a Q & A sheet, and a copy of the text of the bill in the press packet, and I pointed him to the relevant question and the section of the bill.

    Long pause, and ruffle of papers on the phone. “You guys ARE serious,” he said. “Gotta go.”

    About 90 minutes later his story moved on UPI wires, a long story with serious analysis of the mechanisms, and quotes from a few other opponents of the bill pointing out how stupid it would be to transfer National Parks to the states, and Pye’s note that Hatch’s bill didn’t do that.

    The story ran well across the nation, and it kicked off serious discussion. It didn’t become law, but the discussions were serious. For a while.

    Texas had an irruption of federal land management agency hatred last year during the elections, and it brought a clear demonstration of the insanity of Sen. Cruz and his fellow travelers (including now-Gov. Greg Abbott, who is lazy on these issues).

    How can you tell? Lots of invective against BLM and how it tramples the rights of farmers, ranchers and hunters.

    BLM land in Texas? A few acres. The National Helium Reserve, one of the few helium mines in the world — out near Amarillo.



  2. Kirien says:

    before the republicans sell it off…


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