The Great Western Public Land Robbery

Trump’s pick to be the steward of America’s public lands doesn’t believe in public lands.

Comments: 216

  1. "Americans, by huge margins, love their public land — a sentiment shared by Trump voters.". And just HOW do we keep Americans from voting against their own interests? Is the greatest experiment in world history for popular government, a democratic republic, the USA, a failure in the end? I'm resorting to prayer.

  2. @MTDougC. Put your extra money into voter registration and getting paper ballots in every district in every state.

  3. If corporations can enjoy the right to protected speech under the first amendment, why can’t forests, rivers, wetlands, and the creatures that inhabit the earth? When SCOTUS et al use the rule of law so whimsically it makes me realize that our entire system of justice is based on nothing but convenient linguistic interpretation. VOTE for the friends of life and the future of our planet. VOTE. And let’s get our country back so we can start cleaning up this Trump-wreck.

  4. @Elizabeth And don’t forget to vote BLUE.

  5. @Elizabeth Actually, there is evidence that trees do "talk" or communicate. This was a memorable segment on our local NRP radio station in Logan, UT. The local segment is called "Wild about Utah," which often relies on scientists and professors at Utah State University, many nature enthusiasts in the area, and children who have something to say about nature and the environment here. https://www.upr.org/post/tree-talk-wild-about-utah

  6. @Elizabeth ... and the wreckage of the Robert Court.

  7. Certainly can't add much to Mr. Egan's dead-on analysis here. My only other observation, adding on to his "those of you who think you can take refuge in one of the new gilded bunkers built for the rich and apocalyptic" is wondering whether such "refugers" actually think that the consequences of climate change are somehow going to magically skip over their guarded, gated communities while only impacting the far less opulent environments of the hoi polloi. You can keep air currents out with an electrified gate, and flood waters don't respect anyone's fences, either.

  8. @Glenn Ribotsky Not to mention they will have to live on islands of luxury and wealth (gated communities and estates) while surrounded by oceans of despair and anger. And those 300 million people who will be in desperate straits will also be very heavily armed.

  9. @Bob Laughlin One of my recurring fantasies of the End Times is of the wealthy survivors huddled in the rain cooking potatoes on sticks over a fire fed by worthless, sodden banknotes.

  10. Takers' bizarre in D.C. And, ironically, with our straws tapping into the big pool of take, fueling our quests to see the last great places, are compromised by our complicity with the looting for want of doing better and creating a demand for less.

  11. There is also going to be a vast financial cost here when the Democrats finally get back in power. Every lease of public lands entered into by the current administration at bargain basement prices will have to be reclaimed at the full price of the profit that might have been made. For example, if an oil lease is issued for $1 million, and the potential profits are $100 million, the government must pay the $100 million to cancel the lease. Another government giveaway. But since it doesn't go to poor people, it's OK with the GOP!

  12. @John Graybeard I suggest the giver refuses to pay and charges for the damage caused. Even big companies don’t have as many lawyers as the government.

  13. @Paulie They don't need as many lawyers. They will just go bankrupt after sucking the last drop of profit from their little piece of "public" land.

  14. So if money is to the public land, what corporate donations are to speech, then we’ll end up with neither public land or freedom of speech.

  15. And when Trump pressures Denmark to sell Greenland to him, guess who benefits? It will be sold off to rich Republican developers for pennies an acre. Of course, there will need to be a Trump Resort.

  16. @SF How does that fit it with China's Greenland arctic base proposal?

  17. @Nancy If China is involved, that probably explains Trump's entire interest in acquiring the area.

  18. @SF Green Land

  19. Many thanks to Mr. Egan for bringing to all of our attentions the obscene behavior of the Trump administration in its' determination to undercut the laws that were enacted to protect our environment from the depredations of people like Trump and his big business buddies. Knowledge is power so now we know, thanks to a free press and superb reporting, we must protest in any way we can to protect our heritage which is fast disappearing anyway because of climate change.

  20. I've spent a lot of time out in the Escalante/Staircase area and it wrenches my heart every time to leave. And it's everything- the smell, the sounds, the sights and the air. Montana has the same effect. We need these places because crowded national parks don't cut it for solitude anymore. We need places where you see mule deer and elk and bears. Where you feel very, very small. Where as far as you can see, there are no signs of man. Don't let the wilderness experience become one more pleasure of life limited to the rich. Don't force us to limit our outdoors experiences to overcrowded parks. It would kill the very soul of America to sell off the west. It's the last America we have to be proud of. The last authentic thing that isn't overly commercial. The last place for people to be free and independent spirits. The last place to be tested and alone.

  21. @MC Thank you for submitting this post. There is great wisdom in your words. I haven’t been to the area you mention, but did get to see a herd of elk on a trail over the Pacific near Point Reyes, CA. Feeling small in the universe is somehow comforting. I get it looking at the sky where I live. The Big Dipper is overhead now, my township was a stop on the Underground Railroad and runaway slaves were sheltered here, so the stars are part of that connection. We need the natural world as much as it needs us.

  22. @MC. Don’t worry too much: in a hundred years or less this problem will be dwarfed by the bigger one of climate change during global warming and the mass migration of starving people planet wide that it will create and the wars of defense that it will generate. So they are stripping the planet now, before it kills them!

  23. @MC Outstanding post, thank you. I'd like to add, that these treasures are the last place you can experience total quiet, which I find more amazing each time I visit.

  24. Mr. Egan may want to consider what it is like to be a legislator or governor of a state that is partly or mostly owned by the Federal government. This has long been a sore point in the west. The map in parts of New Mexico is literally a checkerboard of state, private and Federal ownership. It's not all bucolic parkland either. If there is a historic deal to be made here, it would be a trade of Federal ownership for a more reasonable political geography, like merging several of those large empty states into one or two, as a quid pro quo for control of their territory.

  25. @Daedalus The problem with turning federally owned lands to states is that they sell them to private developers who then do things like building in areas with inadequate water, thus requiring the siphoning of water from downstream users who also rely on the same water source. It has been proven that trees help remove carbon from the atmosphere, so how does turning federal lands over to governors who will allow clear cutting of forests for revenue and development help climate change? Not everything in this country should be for sale so that big business can make more profits. Greed is driving decisions, not sensible solutions that allow for future development without killing our planet.

  26. @BG That's right, treat state politicians like children. All the wisdom is in DC, so that's where the power should be. So much for being a Federal Republic.

  27. I have not always found local control the panacea or good that many pretend. How many mines allowed by States, when abandoned, have the public then had to foot the bill for clean up? I speak as a former resident of many years in Montana. I remember in particular the farce of the Pegasus Mine and how the mining company declared bankruptcy and then reformed as another company - all to avoid fulfilling their obligation. As it was, their $2,000,000 bond would have been inadequate for the task. States should require realistic bonding to cover those costs to the public.

  28. How much environmental damage can Pendley do before the 2020 election? The answer is - just look at the damage inflicted by Ryan Zinke in 22 months as Secretary of the Interior. The list includes the weakening of protection for the greater sage grouse, a restrictive interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the reduction of two National Monuments and for good measure, the lifting of the ban on lead bullets! Believe me there is still plenty for Pendley to do which is why Trump appointed him.

  29. GOP doesn't believe in government unless it works for very few at the top. SO it's natural that their leadership is against everything government stands for. Not sure we can repair the damage done by this Admin.. not everything can be fixed by $$$; earth has finite resources and once gone; they're gone. I pray for us and future generations.. some of the scenarios in the future sci-fi movies look more and more real.

  30. @P2 GOP = Greedy Old Party

  31. The fate of America's public lands? Probably to be all bought up and made private property. This in fact is the probable fate of all land on earth according to rough estimation of the political/economic situation across the earth. While the world today is oscillating between the various public philosophies (everything from nationalism/populism to socialism) and everyone is imagining some type of public solution at end of all conflict (say the ideal of worldwide democratic socialism) the actuality appears to be rawer capitalism and property accumulation and control by the day. There are just too many people, and land and resources appear more valuable and fragile by the day, and traditional forms of organizing humans in public ways (everything from religions to cultures to the various public political and economic conceptions) are daily undermined by globalization, communications, countless ways, which leaves raw capitalism, struggle, property accumulation and control, people beholden to various corporations and individuals, capitalistic interests broadly speaking. Probably the future of America will see a shedding of people seeing themselves living in a republic or imagining democracy not to mention living in a place with everything in socialistic/public interest. Ideal politic/economic conceptions will apply to the elite, they will live in approximation of harmonic, ideal world, while the rest of humanity will be owned underlings. To own property or to not have body.

  32. Camping trips have always been expensive. Even if you're driving a Prius the 2000 miles and buy your camping equipment at Walmart instead of Paragon. Don't forget the camping clothes made out of organic petroleum products. Glamping at 1500 a night? Did they fly in on a private jet? Terrible just terrible. What gets people angry here is public land being used for farming, ranching, and mining. Which on the face of it isn't evil nor should be illegal. Some how it became dogma to prevent these things. Why? It offends the sense of purity? But don't you think there might be reason to allow it? At least case by case? I know limiting the carbon foot print is a noble goal as long as it's not yours. A Prius driven from NY to Montana would use about 100 gallons of fuel round trip. What if you didn't go at all. At least the the Swedes feel guilty about flying. The ones without private jets, that is.

  33. @JoeG Here is what you don't understand (and probably will never take the time to try) - the activities you so highly praise as productive for public lands are not. Each is subsidized by the taxpayer in foregone income that no private landowner would tolerate. Mining pays almost nothing, grazing fees are a joke, and the water for farming is mostly provided by public irrigation or free water. By far the best economic impact is to preserve them for high quality recreation and their amenity qualities. These are the values that now drive the economies in western communities.

  34. @JoeG. If we had a government that valued trains - that includes both sides of the aisle - people could easily travel from one side of the country to the other, like people do in Europe.

  35. @JDJ But I do understand. I'm not a mining expert but the higher the cost to operate mine the higher the cost of the product. Holler, greed, and corruption, cheap is what sells. Ranchers and farmers are losing their livelihood because of the high operating cost. Don't you think sticking it to farmers and ranchers is bad for the people of the world in the long run? Being in Montana ought to give at least some understanding of how these people struggle to make a living. Can I ask what do you do for a living?

  36. Thank you once more for pointing out the hypocrisy in this administration. Trump was in New Hampshire last bragging once again, about the size of his ( well this is a family newspaper). Now he wants to buy Greenland. 2020 is far away but, i only hope we survive.

  37. This trajectory is spelled out in a new book "Kochland". The gop is all about privatization and profitization. Whether is be public education, parks, infrastructure all should be subjugated to providing profits to private individuals or corporations. Had any other republican won the white house the outcome would have been the same just not so blatantly. Jeb Bush, a big fan of DeVos privatized education in Florida. If you believe in the common good and not flipping everything for a profit never voter for a republican.

  38. @Lady in Green. This is the way towards oligarchy.

  39. Hardly a gutting. The 1 million plus acres of the Escalante National Monument that remain are quite sufficient to provide the wonderful hiking and camping experience that these spectacular public lands offer.

  40. @wlt Is what's left enough to provide a sufficient range for the wildlife that depends on it?

  41. The point is - they are lands that belong to all of us. Once they are destroyed by mining and other extraction, they will no longer be wild or beautiful. Extraction companies pay a pittance for leasing and pay no royalties on what they extract to the American public. They often do not do clean up when the mines are abandoned leaving costly clean up to the public. Extraction companies receive many tax breaks and other forms of relief at public expense. Representative Udall and others have tried to get legislation passed to protect the public interest. The original legislation was passed in 1872 and beneficiaries of it's largesse have always prevented significant changes. Again these are public lands, they do not belong to oil, gas or coal companies, Trump or any of his oligarch friends. They belong to us.

  42. @wlt The 50% size reduction is definitely a gutting. The remaining million acres is in 3 discontinuous areas, to be used for resource extraction. I suspect the protected areas will lose their basic character as wilderness.

  43. And now we want to buy Greenland from the Danes? One can only imagine why. A kind of climate solution - land sales, subdivisions, hotels in the arctic?

  44. @cmd Greenland is open for business. Ask China. But it doesn't appear to be for sale.

  45. With this republican administration and President, it is all about the oil, resources and money that is sitting there waiting to be grabbed up on, in or under public land. It is the same ideology of republicans that has been sped up over the last few decades, which is to get into power, rule by dictate or fiat, and then let anyone that objects, to spend the time and effort to take them to court. Of course they have also stacked (usurped from Democratic President a Supreme Court seat or few in the process) courts throughout the land to uphold their graft and theft. This message has been brought to you by (insert corporate name here).

  46. These vast and magnificent public spaces should be maintained as a treasure for both present and future generations. Selling or leasing for oil drilling and fracking does not meet such a goal. Years of prior precedent makes a clear statement the purpose of “public” lands. Maintaining these lands is now more important than every as our planet faces climate change which those in government have chosen to ignore. The article identified the critical issues the administration has created but did not mention any actions being taken to counteract the BML. Have new lawsuits been brought forth? I

  47. Bears ears has not lost one acre of public land. The only thing that changed is the designations on some of it. Mountain bikers are forced to share the land with ATVs, one recreation group was forced to accommodate another. The entire Bears ears is no less protected, there are still no rangers anywhere. The entire hoopla is about stodgy uptight city recreationists wanting to impose themselves on the locals. There is no coal mine, no expanded uranium, no drilling for oil.

  48. Give it time. Some day you may not longer recognize it. And, plenty of people who love wild lands in the Western States want the benefit of our, let me stress, our public lands.

  49. @somsai many "locals" don't realize the state's rights movement is to have governments small enough that they can't stand up to the corporatist ready to exploit public lands. Only the federal government is large enough to protect our natural areas from exploitation and with the Trump government we don't even get that.

  50. Yes, States Rights actually weaken a given states power to resist Behemoth Corporations these days. And they also put the states on an uneven playing field with Intrusions by the Federal government. Our collective vision of what America is, and what we stand for is undermined daily by this administration. What can we do about it NOW, besides waiting For November, 2020?

  51. The great irony of Cliven Bundy and others like him is that he benefited from the fact that the land he grazed his cattle on was public. He paid low grazing fees and didn't have to own the land, invest his own capital in purchase and maintenance, pay taxes on it etc. What people like him don't realize is that if our public lands get sold off to corporations and rich individuals, their access to it will be gone forever too.

  52. @MJ I am no fan of the Bundys. The irony is that the corporations will also pay no taxes and no grazing fees.

  53. @MJ Think you forgot that Cliven Bundy got into hot water because he didn't pay his low grazing fees and overgrazed (ranged more cattle than was permitted) on the land he wasn't paying for.

  54. @MJ These gun toting rebels like the Bundys don't seem to realize that if t rump and his owners get their way and we do become an authoritarian/fascist state the 2nd Amendment will be the second thing to go. Dictators and oligarchs do not allow an armed populace. When/if they get their way there will be a door to door roundup of their guns. Whether they like it or not. Or resist.

  55. This is what happens when you put a businessman and real-estate developer into the Oval Office. Why should anyone be surprised? Of course it was only going to be a matter of time before he started a land grab in order to make a profit, and it all started when Ryan Zinke was picked to become Trump's hatchet-man as Secretary of the Interior. And it didn't get any better with Scott Pruitt, who already had a reputation for spending other people's money and turned Oklahoma into an earthquake zone by fracking -- was picked to head the E.P.A. As a result of greed and Republican intransigence, Americans are now being robbed of their most cherished heritage one acre at a time as it is either sold or exploited beneath their feet. The great land preservationist President Teddy Roosevelt must be spinning in his grave.

  56. @N. Smith By almost any standard, President Trump failed as both a business man and a real estate developer. I fear that you give him too much credit, though I agree with your premise. What we have is a cheat and a grifter who wants to so undermine our country and its rule of law that he can become President for Life.

  57. @N. Smith Oh boy, could we use Theodore Roosevelt now!!!

  58. @Ambroisine You're preaching to the choir. Just about everyone here in New York City already knows that.

  59. The Trump administration is government of, by, and for the extremely wealthy. When will his "base" of dispirited non-college workers and evangelistic people wake up to this reality. Is that really what the "base" wants? Andrew Biemiller

  60. @Andrew Biemiller unfortunately his base doesn't read the New York Times or any other paper that may raise questions about their beliefs.

  61. Public lands are one of America's greatest gifts to its people. This week alone, I have hiked in a county park, cleared trails in the high Cascades as a volunteer, and will backpack around Mt. Hood. Public lands are places to go to think, to see, to marvel, to push oneself, to get away from people, politics, and noise, and to be glad I am an American, which these days is not a common thought I have. Yes, and the huckleberries are really good this time of year.

  62. "The Trump strategy is to destroy from within." Yes, a real nihilist. But I think it's not just strategy, it's from Trump's deep-seated need to destroy what others build, some sort of ego-building in his very unhealthy psyche. A few years back, I saw a PBS special where a childhood friend of Trump's family described an incident when they were kids and their families were doing a Sunday afternoon get-together. The kids were playing and decided to build a tower from playing cards. Only Trump stayed to the side and didn't join. Once they got the tower going, he ran over and gleefully knocked it down and the others were so upset. This childhood friend, now 70 or so, offered the story as example of how he behaved. It's such a telling story.

  63. @justsaying "As a being is, so it acts". Trump is not going to change. He takes great pleasure, apparently, in destroying trust, beauty, character, anything that is good and admirable, anything worthy and honorable, fair and just. As president, however, his ignorance is his defining characteristic.

  64. The morning after the 2016 election I knew we would have to fight every Republican effort to strip Americans-of rights, of benefits, of money, of birthright. The birthright of the Federal Parks, Forests, Seashores, etc, the land protected for the use and benefit of every American citizen now and in the future. We must support every agency (Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Trust for Public Lands, etc) to fight. Once the land is gone and despoiled, we cannot put it back.

  65. I feel real fortunate and lucky, almost, to live within minutes of the public lands that make up a great deal of the entire southwest corner of Idaho, my home state. Except for the cattle allowed to graze them, they are still wild, much as they were created in the eons of natural history. And, whether one lives in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., or Portland, Oregon, or any point in between, we are all part-owners of this legacy. It is beyond shame and ugliness that a man who likely does not even own a pair of hiking boots is now the overseer of the Bureau of Land Management

  66. Well, Montana could fix its problem, Timothy. Of course, that would mean voting for those Democrats. I know, I know ... let's not completely lose our heads.

  67. @C.L.S. OH? How are "we" as Montanans supposed to protect the Bob Marshall Wilderness (federal) , Glacier Park and Yellowstone Park as well as several other federal spaces like the CM Russell game reserve or the Metcalf reserve? We have been protecting public lands all we can and work really hard to do so.

  68. @C.L.S. Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary.

  69. @Aimee A. Then why did you vote against those interests by electing trump. Try harder, much harder.

  70. Thank you for writing about this extremely important topic. It should be front page news, not one day but day after day after day, until we get Trump and his Republican allies out of power.

  71. Trump is desperate to win next year’s election so that he can continue to enrich himself and remain in power in an effort to avoid prison. The economy is all he has going for him. So what does he do? Anything to keep it going at breakneck speed. He eviscerates regulations, of all kinds. The Endangered Species Act. Irresponsible sale of public lands. Reckless offshore drilling. Feckless mining. You name it. Environmental protections and combating climate change are seen simply to stand in the way of a rising stock market. And Trump instigates economic turmoil with tariff wars to try to force the Fed to lower interest rates again. Unfortunately, Trump is in control of most regulations (through executive orders) and tariffs (by power granted to the president). If Jerome Powell and the Fed are not cowed by Trump, maybe the economy will sink in a sustained way before the election and we will be rid of this presidential albatross. Democrats need to take firm and rational stands on immigration – a key topic – before it is too late. They need to take immigration out of the spotlight. If Trump wins again in 2020, the environmental damage to public lands and to the planet as a consequence of climate change may very well be irreparable. We must do all we can to ensure that our children are not forced to face that world.

  72. @Blue Moon Oh wait, it gets even better! -- Not content to strip our country of its public lands for its natural resources, Trump is reportedly now interested in buying GREENLAND for the exact same reasons. Personally, I'm surprised he could even find it on a map.

  73. @N. Smith Apparently it's not for sale.

  74. Denmark has said that it will not sell 50,000 of its citizens to the US. One Danish official likened the whole affair to an April Fools' joke. But global warming is making the Arctic a serious source of contention, with natural resources and new shipping routes opening up. And the US did consider purchasing Greenland just after the Civil War and again during the Truman era. Such a purchase would be a part of Trump's legacy, like Eisenhower helping to grant Alaska statehood. Amazingly, maybe this Greenland thing won't be going away so easily?

  75. We must do everything we can to stall this cancer until next November. Please give to those organizations with a public lands conservation mission and a legal staff who will challenge this administration at every every step. Public lands must remain in public hands.

  76. A significant fault in our laws that prescribe how things should be done is that there is no punishment for violating them. If one lies to a federal official, even orally when not sworn, it is a crime punishable by jail time (ask Martha Stewart). If one does anything prohibited by the traffic law, or fails to do something required by it, one is subject to a summons. But if a federal official vilates the explicit terms of the law, there is no punishment. Someone with financial resources must sue. And after the Supreme Court has ruled, perhaps a decade later one can seek an injunction. Only then may a court impose sanctions, if it so chooses. When was the last time that happened?

  77. Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican President who protected Americans from the Robber Barons of the early 20th century, Trump is the Republicans who hands the nation to 21st century Robber Barons. What 100 years did to the Republican Party. The devotion of the GOP will make for wonderful reading From Progressive secular populism to reactionary theocratic nationalism. in 100 years

  78. @GUANNA - Plus the Robber Barons fought TR viciously over his public lands actions. Their hatred of the concept that the "public" might own anything just frosts their cookies - even their anti-protection rhetoric remains the same.

  79. Montanans take our public lands seriously and we have some of the strongest Stream Access laws around. We have had to fight off opponents of that no less than 2 times via at the ballot box and many times in the legislature. Public lands are how many in Montana make a living via tourism or guides etc. We have worked so hard to keep these spaces for those who not only come to visit (Montanans believe that we are stewards of this land for EVERYONE, not just Montanans) but for our children and grandchildren in the future. What is America without our public lands?

  80. An irony of Trump supporters angry about DC control of public lands is that many of them, and I talk to enough of them to have a fair idea what they fantasize, vaguely believe that local public land will magically fall under their control when in the history of the U.S., and, indeed, the world, the rich and powerful allowing that has never happened. “Public” lands at all is a relatively recent innovation that we can mostly attribute to Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. In our world stood on its head Trump supporters have been propagandized into the illusion that Conservative leaders will look out for them. They haven’t ever, aren’t, and never will. They’re hurriedly taking back control of every aspect of our lives wrested away from them during and since the New Deal and Great Society. Public Lands is just one of others.

  81. @John F McBride The fantasy of which you speak also assumes that these public lands were once in private hands. But nearly all of the current public lands were acquired by the Federal government buying them from other nations, such as the Louisiana and Gadsden Purchases, Alaska, or by Federal treaties, such as that with Britain in 1846, or with Mexico after the Mexican War, or annexation, such that of Texas and of Hawai'i. Federal actions and Federal money acquired these lands, yet many people either forget or simply do not know this. And of course there were the illegal seizures of Indian lands throughout the nineteenth century.

  82. @Harvey Green Hear! Hear! George Santayana’s often quoted statement is, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But those of us who know even a modicum of accurate history understand that a corollary to Santayana’’s observation is that “Those who do not know history are condemned to be deceived by those who don’t want history remembered.”

  83. The only explanation for this attitude about public lands is that this capitalistic economy is slowly ruling out all other values besides the peoples' greatest right to make themselves wealthy and beat each other to that pot of gold. Someday joy and curiosity and beauty will be against the law. Everything that we all share equally like national monuments, libraries, museums, parks, playgrounds, basketball courts, sidewalks and boulevard strips will be privatized and used as money making opportunities. God bless capitalism! Yikes!

  84. I hope those people who advocate selling off the public lands understand that the buyers will be the super rich, including quite a few tech billionaires, who like to compete with each other to see who can assemble the largest trophy ranch properties. Then come the fences and the no trespassing signs. Say goodbye to that place where you used to catch large trout, or where you shot your first deer and what the heck happened to the motorcycle trails?

  85. @Gone Coastal Noisy, polluting motorcycles have no place in a "Nature" experience. *That's what has happened. Ditto Sno-mobiles. It is much more "natural", not to mention considerate of *other park goers to get off of one's duff and hike !

  86. @Nominae Living in the West as I do, certainly you've seen the benefit of multi-user policies related to public land's usage--while it may be noisier than we like--it's one of the few concerns where all parties play nice together. Exclusionary thinking is what has toxified the dialogue in our country. Being able to care for folks while disagreeing is nearly dead for most--We are best in our diversity

  87. @Michael Yes, we have a family ranch over by Torrington, and I have family in Casper. I know all about the Wyoming concept of "diversity". Everyone thinking in lockstep, voting Republican, everyone competing to get *into the pocket of the Coal, Oil, Fracking, and Gas industries. Wyoming has the smallest population of any of the 50 States for a reason. And that "reason" is *not "diversity". eTatehom

  88. Ask Europeans or people from countries all over the world to say what they admire most in the US, and in my experience the answer is invariably “your extraordinary National Parks.” They describe seeing and hiking in the Everglades, seashore reserves and protected wetlands, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches and other parks from East to West, with as much fervor and admiration as any American. When I tell them about the danger the Trump administration poses to our public lands by seeking to sell them off to corporations, they seem as shocked and depressed as I am. Men like Trump, Wheeler, and Pendley see the wilderness jewels in America’s crown as nothing more than profit centers. They know the price if everything and the value of nothing.

  89. @Susan If the Everglades were managed like the federal lands out west, hovercrafts and canoes would not be allowed.

  90. Montana voted Trump. I hope he buys up all their public land. The survivalist Trump supporters will have to leave and go to Greenland after Trump buys it. Vote Democratic 2020

  91. @J Swift, vindictive much? Eastern and rural Montana voted trump, but the major cities like Missoula, Helena, Great Falls and Bozeman all stuck their thumbs in his eye. I will support your public lands even though most or your eastern and rural voters went for trump too, maybe you can return the favour instead of lumping Montana progressives in with the ranchers of our state.

  92. Here we are, the beacon of light to the rest of the world for over 200 years, being systematically destroyed by one mentally deranged and functionally illiterate man. Are we still feeling "exceptional?"

  93. This is not at all surprising. A prerequisite of being a cabinet head in this administration is having utter contempt for whatever you are supposed to make work (See DeVoss, Betsy (Education), Carson, Ben (HUD), and whoever is running the now defunct EPA). The damage this administration is doing to the world order and environment will never be undone. For those who support this, I have a sincere question: Is your hate and greed worth it?

  94. the settling of the west was theft enabled by war. it continues.

  95. Nothing is sacred to or safe from Trump's perverse cabinet picks. And perhaps you have a limited word count, but in your list of Trump appointees who were chosen to destroy from within, you forgot Trump's Secretary of Education who doesn't believe in public education and Trump's Secretary of Labor who doesn't believe in worker's rights.

  96. Lets be honest, in the opinion of the Democratic Party and the New York Times, this isn't American Public Lands but the World's Public Land. Americans have no more right to these lands than anyone else in the world. And while we are at it, we don't have the right to enforce laws on those World Public Lands. If people want what is there, no one has the right to limit what they do. If millions of illegal immigrants want to settle on those public lands, our only right is an obligation to supply them with water, energy, free schools, and medical care.

  97. Thank you for covering this urgent issue. While most of us are wrapped up in RussiaGate, the horse-race spectacle of 24-hour news, and Epstein's suicide-or-murder-game, the guts of our country are being eviscerated by the likes of William Perry Pendley and other extremist zealots. We should be taking a cue from Hong Kong and the gilets jaunes in France. Democracy is waiting.

  98. On the one hand Egan rightly criticizes the current administration for its horrible environmental policies. Fair enough. On the other hand he throws a bomb at attempts to decrease immigration even though immigration is horrible for the American environment. Egan has a blind spot bigger than all the parks and wilderness areas in southern Utah. Get it together, bud.

  99. @vbering, who if not the migrant workers are going to harvest the apples in your orchards? How are immigrants more harmful to the environment than any other occupants of this planet Earth?

  100. The President should not be able to appoint people to run agencies they should be selected by Congress and each to serve a 10 year term. Enough of all this corruption.

  101. @DG, I am not sure your suggestion is the right way, but something must be done becasue you have identified a core problem. It is awful and dangerous to have our country go through ping pong matches over and over again. Previously it was not so bad, but that was in a day long gone, before there was a cold civil war in place. Now that there is, we must have some continuity from year to year, administration to administration-- regardless of party. The dems if they get the majority-- really need to focus on important matters like the Fairness Doctrine, an SEC with teeth, an FCC with power, etc.

  102. @karen And the absolute abolition and Constitutional protection against another "Citizen's United" which literally makes it LEGAL to purchase elections.

  103. " "Gold over life, literally." That was the succinct and critical reaction of Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein to reporting on Friday that President Donald Trump had personally intervened—after a meeting with Alaska's Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy on Air Force One in June—to withdraw the Environmental Protection Agency's opposition to a gold mining project in the state that the federal government's own scientists have acknowledged would destroy native fisheries and undermine the state's fragile ecosystems." https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/08/10/gold-over-life-literally-how-trump-forced-reversal-mining-project-epa-scientists Our governor seems bent on destroying Alaska, with budget vetoes making deep cuts to Medicaid, senior services, mental health services, and public education - and gutting the University of Alaska system with a 40% budget cut. The good news is that just two weeks after the start of a recall petition, enough signatures have been gathered to advance the effort to the Division of Elections. recalldunleavy.org

  104. @childofsol, wishing you such good luck with the recall. And yet I have lost faith in Alaska's smarts since the rise of Sarah Palin. I hope you prove us all wrong, for the sake of your beautiful state, and the world we humans are supposed to conserve.

  105. @karen You could say that Sarah Palin's thankfully short career in politics was Trump writ small. Hard to believe she was expected to pull McCain's campaign to a win. Even harder to imagine that Trump could be elected. Don't lose faith in Alaska, we are all living the results of the same uninformed electorate on a national scale. Let's all change this.

  106. We need a new Theodore Roosevelt.

  107. Wrecking the Department of the Interior is an impeachable offense. So is wrecking the Department of Agriculture. Why aren’t the Democrats drawing attention to this wreckage of our country?

  108. @Oldmadding, because the current democrats in the lead for president have expressed no love for the outdoors, nor concern for the environment or climate change. Only 3 without a chance of winning the primary do care-- and they are from Montana, Colorado, Washington. When I think of presidents during my lifetime, the outdoorsy ones did good work for the environment: Nixon, Carter, Reagan. Obama did some good, but it was transactional-- it did not seem to be done out of passion, as the prior 3. Oh I know Reagan took down the Carter solar panels, and we still pay the price for that folly-- but in his heart, he was a Californian who loved the outdoors, and sometimes a lead by example is a good thing.

  109. Isn't St. Ronald the guy who said, "If you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all?"

  110. Sore subject. Trump, and through him Pendley, are obviously abominations. However, need I remind you, the Cliven Bundy story started long before Trump took office. Rob Bishop was not a product of Trump's brazen hostility to all things decent. Bishop has been around since 1978. He's been fighting his entire life to privatize Utah's public lands. Never mind there's more money and more jobs in tourism than in resource extraction. Somehow voters somewhere have seen fit to continue reelecting him. BIshop's and Pendley's political ascension is more like Trump's affinity for white supremacy. These horrible parts of our society have been there all along. They've just been lying dormant waiting for the proper catalyst to reactivate the virus. Trump, along with his Republican enablers in congress, are that catalyst. Trump brings life to what shouldn't properly live in America in the first place. The man is a disease. I really do hope Egan is right about the political backlash. I'd like to see a congress so furious about Trump's anti-environmentalism they declare all of south eastern Utah one big National Park from Carbon County on down. Eminent domain. That land is in the public interest.

  111. I believe Egan has his heart in the right place but our individual ownership of 248 million acres of BLM controlled land is NOT our birthright. What chutzpah, Egan! Overlooking the horrible consequences of Manifest Destiny is still producing a generation-suffering karmic pall over the very existence of the white man in America. As the greatest peoples to ever inhabit any lands, the "Native American", so-called, Indian peoples illustrated the highest priorities of the land. It was for the benefit of no one individual but for all to enjoy and make a life on. The very sense of "ownership" was anathema to the Originals. Egan oftentimes overlooks the real source of what is commonly referred to today as "american exceptionalism".

  112. @willw, do you really think that under private or State ownership, those lands now under BLM control will be better managed for Native American or Tribal interests? You may have your heart in the right place, but your critique assumes that we will maintain a public discourse on the best use of those lands, which might even include a return of much of the land to Native Americans. Under this administration, the chances of losing the public voice on the use of those lands are skyrocketing. I maintain it is best to hold the lands as a Nation and make decisions about their use as one People through our legislative processes.

  113. @willw: Nicely woke, but the notion that Native Americans were careful stewards of the land is a romantic myth. They wrought immense changes in the land, from coast to coast, for their own benefit. If they were less destructive than the Europeans who came here, it was because they didn't have the technological means. The "Originals", by the way, slaughtered each other on a regular basis for control of land and resources that the various groups considered "theirs", or wanted to take from "others". I doubt that their neighbors ever said, "Oh goody! Here come the Comanche!"

  114. @Timothy Sharp Our "legislative processes" have been severely damaged. Can we repair them to function as you suggest? When terrible people willfully appointed by a quixotic ignoramus are in control of important parts of the government it is very difficult to know where to start meaningful processes.

  115. Yet another way that Mr. Trump and his cabal promote economic inequality. The national parks are meant to be the people's lands, an inexpensive way for the masses to engage and enjoy the beauty of their country. Instead, Trump & al want those lands to be sources of additional wealth for their class. What is left after their despoliation will be the exclusive playground of the rich. So very sad that Trump fans cannot get where his real care and concern lies. They scramble for the crumbs and promises he tosses them blinded to the reality of what is happening to our country and our future.

  116. Vote the Republicans out. The man running their party is ruining America and they stand by in fear and obsequience in full contradiction of previous party positions. Vote the Republicans out in November 2020. In the mean time, if your representatives in Congress are Republican, write and call them. Tell them if they do not do something about the abomination of a president that they have been backing, you will volunteer for their Democratic opponent, contribute to their Democratic opponent, and vote for their Democratic opponent in the next election cycle. And that you will continue to do so for the next ten election cycles. Time for the Republicans to stop being hypocrites, time to put America first instead of their vaunted positions in Congress.

  117. The key to understanding these actions is to realize that these are people who do not care one whit about what happens to anything after they are gone. And they have absolutely insatiable greed, they can never grab enough or exploit enough.

  118. Also known as "hungry ghosts."

  119. We should monetize and privatize as much as possible. Let's charge admission to Arlington cemetery. In fact, let's sell plots to those who can afford to buy hallowed ground. Just don't let them buy the hallowed ground of my American West.

  120. This is an exceptionally well-written indictment summary of the terror that is the Trump administration. The entire gang is about as far from being patriotic Americans as one can get. Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt are spinning in their graves.

  121. A fox in every henhouse seems to be Trump’s take on “a chicken in every pot.” The article is spot on, but leaves out Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who doesn’t believe in public schools and has the policies (and family income from charter schools) to prove it. Trump is dismantling the government and building detention centers and prisons. His base are told they’ll be the winners when regulations and laws are removed. Untroubled by education, they miss the obvious fact that the benefits of deregulation are being funneled to the 1%, while the rest of us must cope on our own with pollution, loss of privacy, a world in chaos, low wages and an Amerika where our basest natures are empowered, science and education are belittled, and the truth is a chimera. MAGA may be the most evil catch phrase in history. Another superlative feather for Trump’s flamboyant cap.

  122. For the few Trump voters that read the NYT, how can you possibly justify this? I'm curious because I can't think of one reason why our remaining treasures should be ravaged by corporate greed.

  123. If you can't stand nature, it's beauty, its fragility, and the millions of species that thrive in it, then Donald Trump and the Gas Oil Petroleum party could be the political party for you. If you have the slightest regard for preserving nature and the Earth's very delicate ecosystem, then voting Democratic from now until the Republican rejoins civilization is the only responsible thing to do. Greed Over Planet is on the ballot in 2020. Vote for the planet.

  124. Enjoying public lands often tends to be a white pastime. If we are to preserve public lands we (as in we the people or we the nation,) need to be inclusive when it comes to outdoor activities. One of the consequences of Trump's hate mongering is to drive a wedge between rural whites who traditionally make higher use of public lands for recreation and and non-whites who make much less use of public lands. As the inexorable wheels of demographic change churn and whites become a minority, if the love of public lands is not passed on to all people of this country, including the new majorities, the future of those lands becomes much greater. One could say that about all of the institutions of our Republic as well.

  125. Timothy mentions in his piece his recent visit to Montana. He got me thinking about a time years ago when my husband, representing the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife, went there for the annual States' Conference made up of his counterparts. He came back raving about Montana's beauty, from Flathead Lake to Glacier National Park. And it was frequently that he would pull out his John Denver album and play, "Montana Skies" along with "Rocky Mountain High." Our natural resources, the beauty of our nation, spreads north, south, east, and west. We are blessed. Yet, one single man in the back pockets of industry, sacrificing our and our nation's health at the altar of greed, is obliterating what belongs to us and the ages. Trump is horrible. It is like this sociopath, knowing perhaps that his days may be numbered either politically or by nature, is Hades-bent on taking us all down with him. If he goes, so must all of us. We have so much on the line in 2020. But right there at the top is protecting the creatures of the earth. Without them, without the interdependence of all living entities, we ourselves will lose life itself as we have known it.

  126. Thanks, Timothy for this important critique of trumps henchmen. They really are a basket of deplorable administrators, I will withhold judgment on their qualities as human beings. But I do imagine they lack the character that we in Missoula find admirable. I am glad you had a nice reunion with your Montana family, and I am glad you have chosen to call this horrid administration out for its disregard to all that my Montana family holds dear. Senator Daines has joined himself to the hip of trump, and making him pay electorally for such an alliance is a major goal of Montana Dems. Now if we can just get Steve Bullock to run for Senate, we will get `er done.

  127. @Timothy Sharp we need bullock and hickenlooper to help get us back to normal. We will never flip Idaho Wyoming or Utah but if we can get Az and Alaska as well it’s possible to make the other western states pay attention and start respecting the lands

  128. @JD, I am not sure Colorado needs Hickenlooper as much as Montana needs Bullock. Daines is a formidable incumbent, and I think only Bullock has the chops to beat him. Tieing Daines to trumps stand on public lands is a good way to knock him down a few pegs. Bullock does not want to be a Senator, he has a young family and does not want to move them to DC, but he kind of needs to fill that role as a service to his state. We will reward him well for his sacrifice.

  129. After growing up in Pennsylvania, I fell in love with our country through traveling back and forth between PA and the West Coast. I was living out of my vehicle at the time, bouncing from state to state, public land to public land. I had the luxury of speaking with individuals in many communities. "Why do you live here?" "Because of the access to the outdoors," was always the answer. We have such a diverse landscape, and I truly believe everyone who wants to see it should have the right to, without having to shell out a single cent.

  130. As lawyers for the environmental groups who will sue the Trump administration's plans to kill all good things left in its hands by others, I believe a major strategy should include a demand that Justice Neil Gorsuch recuse himself from all decision related to our wildlands, endangered species and any other scorched-earth policies from thed EPA and Interior, and here's why. Justice Gorsuch's mother, Anne Gorsuch, was Reagan's first EPA secretary and, as part of Reagan's smaller government philosophy, Sec. Gorsuch moved vigorously to replace EPA's scientists and regulatory lawyers with industry shills eager to do the bidding of their former employers in the energy and forest products industries. It took about 18 months before she resigned from public pressure. But she was also a role model for other Reagan anti-environment appointees including James Watt and Gail Norton. My point is, of course, Justice Gorsuch may have just enough DNA to reject any claims by environmental groups fighting to protect what belongs to all of us. In this pro-coal, pro-oil and gas, pro-mining administration, it would seem only fair to level the SCOTUS playing field by demanding Justice Gorsuch's recusal in all matters of the environment. Hopefully those challenges to the administration's plans for selling out to special interests will take us through the 2020 election. With Trump gone (we hope), the Will of the People will once again rescue the environment as well as our democracy.

  131. @David Ohman WOW! I remember James Watt's explanation that the nation's resources were up for grabs because the Rapture was overdue. I did not remember Ms. Gorsuch's role, thanks! I would suggest though that DNA has nothing to do with it, while growing up in a family of grifters certainly does.

  132. @David Ohman Article 3, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution outlaws intergenerational attainder of blood. Your suggestion is unconstitutional.

  133. The person in charge of public land doesn't like public land. The person in charge of public schools doesn't like public schools. People in charge of regulation of public health and safety don't like business to be regulated. There is a pattern here, republicans want business to be free to do whatever it wants, with no protection for the personal or occupational health, safety, or well being. They are in favor of regulating personal choice, like restricting abortion, or restricting class action lawsuits.

  134. Yet another angry column by Timothy Egan, all heat and no light. How many years has this been going on? I put on metaphorical welding glasses to read it. I'll have to back away from the Egan blast furnace and look elsewhere to obtain information on Bureau of Land Management appointee William Pendley. It's unfortunate. Amid all of the inveighing, Mr. Egan is right about one thing: we Americans treasure our federal lands. States like Texas that lack much of it suffer from that lack. The question of how the federal government manages the nation's public lands, by contrast, is contentious and has been for a long time. There are tensions between private property interests and those of the federal government, and neither side has a monopoly on virtue. You'd never know that from this column.

  135. @Cyclist Well, think of it this way; it takes a lot of effort to establish bike lanes for cyclists. Perhaps you've been to city council meetings and public rallies to help get this done. Now imagine that the local government takes those bike lanes away and instead widens those streets to accommodate more truck and car traffic. And you will be paying for the highway construction projects. Frustrated yet? Even (gasp) angry?

  136. @Anne P. — Hi, Anne. I wish we could talk about these issues in person. We'd probably find much to agree on. Here, space is limited, but let me squeeze in the following. People work every day to try to take away bicycling opportunities. They're temperance-movement environmentalists (as distinguished from real conservationists) for whom a wheel on a trail is the work of Satan. They find a degree of ideological support among lawmakers like your own Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who ironically heads the congressional bicycle caucus (road cycling is fine for these people, mountain biking is not). Because mountain biking is so popular, they can only nibble at the margins, but they did manage to oust us from about 100 miles of trails on Mount Hood. I bet those trails are growing over now that mountain bikers are no longer around to maintain them. This state of affairs does anger me, but if I vented at a public hearing the way Mr. Egan writes, the officer standing at the back would be shifting nervously and wondering at what point I would have to be escorted from the room. Fortunately, I am able make my points calmly, relying on reason rather than fulmination.

  137. Love the way Mr. Egan tells it like it is, no holds barred. These trump appointees, as well as trump himself, should be run out of town on a rail.

  138. Related to this issue of public lands, Trump's Forest Service is proposing to take away our public right to comment and have influence on the logging of public lands and to have an environmental review of said logging. The public comment period on this theft of our oversight of these forests is still open. Please register your comments on the Forest Service website. Ironically, the this rule change is entitled "National Environmental Policy Act Compliance."

  139. They have no shame.

  140. @Lonnie A National Coup is always shameless. This one is not even bloodless.

  141. Great Egan column as usual, but filling me with despair.

  142. Support the organizations financially which are suing to block this. Separately, I have to wonder at the other NYT article on the virulent online attacks on women in tech and journalism for, basically, existing versus the likes of Pendley who seems to generate no widespread hatred. That in itself tells you what is happening where women's existence is attacked but the great wild lands of extreme beauty that belong to us all do undefended from a crude money grubbing GOP lackey lawyer.

  143. "The gallery of awful human beings, monumental incompetents, wife-beaters, frauds and outright criminals appointed to high positions in the Trump administration is large and varied." Yeah, well...what person with the least bit of decency would want to work for Trump? And what we end up with are the morally disgusting Stephen Millers of this country. There's been a few exceptions, but they've all left.

  144. greed, greed, greed, so much for posterity

  145. So...when do we take to the streets?

  146. @pam YES ! Or at least weakly introduce some Articles of Impeachment to communicate to any *future president that what Trump is doing does NOT set a new National precident for Presidential Behavior ? If we have no SPINE, we invite a predator like Trump to bend the whole country over.

  147. No issue reveals so clearly that Trump is genuinely malevolent, bent on destroying everything that genuinely has made America great. In 20 years, either America will be a totalitarian wasteland or you won't be able to find anyone who admits to having voted for Trump.

  148. This is one of the real crimes perpetrated by Trump and his "acting" cabinet of lobbyists, crooks and incompetents. These lands belong to the American people, not oil, gas and mining corporations. If Trump thinks the Danes will sell him Greenland he's got another think coming.

  149. I'm waiting for SNL to address those expensive survival condos inside abandoned missile silos. They will be objects of hilarious derision just like the silly "bomb shelters" of the 50s. MCM returns! The ads for them are already classic cartoons. But it's true: there's a sucker born every single minute.

  150. "Trump’s pick for public lands doesn’t believe in public lands." Well, why do you think he was picked for the position? Kind of obvious...

  151. Thanks to Mr. Egan for (yet) more illumination as to why Clear & Present Danger 45* must be forced from our White House.

  152. To any Republicans out there who "love" their public lands, and I know there are many in the Sierra Club, repudiate this president and what he's doing to our nation. I vote as much as I can, but your party loyalty is amounting to treason against our country.

  153. Our government is being gutted from within and will it ever be able to be reversed when Trump is no longer squatting in the White House?

  154. This pick, all by itself, disqualifies Trump from the presidency.

  155. Once Americans have no faith in our beloved institutions we will be on parity with the average Russian. This is Putin's goal, and his puppet, El Trumpo is performing beautifully. Already many Americans do not trust our Justice Department. Many more don't trust EPA, DOT, DOE, CFPB, FBI, or SSA at all. Trumpsters relish the destruction of the government. When the average Russian sees a polluter dumping into a river, he turns away because there is no one trustworthy to call. When they see crime, they turn away, before the same thing, or worse, happens to them. And reporters know better than to stand in a politicians face and demand answers. That could get you killed. The media is the enemy. Putin/Trump . . .not much difference between these two. If Trumpism is not overwhelmingly defeated soon, we will all be living like Russians.

  156. I doubt that Donald Trump, The President of the United States, has ever set foot in a National Park.

  157. @Bill bartelt Bill, I doubt that Trump has ever set foot in *Central Park. The man is a *notorious coward !

  158. Megalomaniac-Don is also looking to con Greenland from Denmark - force may be next if he doesn't get HIS way. It's not enough to decimate Alaska, he wants to destroy Greenland too. Denmark should buy Alaska instead - keep it out of the hands of the megalomaniacal-capitalists that own America and the entire planet outright from under14 billion feet with no say. "Only well-off whites are welcome here" like Murdoch! A true anti-American, naturalized citizen living abroad profiting tax free off his optimized hate-feedback-loop businesses dividing Americans. "The gallery of awful human beings" needs to be memorialized in a museum of horrors so our descendants know who were most responsible for their perilous predicament. Trump and his ilk need to feel like endangered species themselves until the 2020 verdict. Hopefully we can prosecute these people for not only NOT doing their job but intentionally doing the opposite, to intentionally cause harm. The EPA & BLM is there to PROTECT the environment NOT to destroy it. It's illegal to pollute! Shouldn't it be illegal to enable and facilitate a polluter to pollute too? To intentionally cause extinctions? To sell off pieces of America to oligarchs? To buy nations to exploit them to death for exclusive benefit of a few? Warren's "Sacred Lands Religious Restoration Act" proposal is well worded and a dig at the wealthy hypocritical religious types. "largest wild salmon fishery" - trump eats meat and doesn't fish! What does he care.

  159. It is especially for these attacks on what is the very essence of America that I will disinherit my children who would vote Republican in the next presidential elections. Nobody can love America and destroy it at the same time, no one, not even the grandson of a deserter!

  160. There is no tragicomedy here, or generally in the Trump administration. This is sheer depsicable unbelievable tragedy that affects every one of us - and it has to end asap.

  161. Perhaps it is not my finest moment when I take comfort in the opinion the progeny of the legacy-obsessed owners of this country will reap what their greedy parents have sown.

  162. @Kevin Greene I don't think the Trump kids would know the difference. Grinning with a severed elephant's tail or hugging a dead leopard for photos kind of seals the deal.

  163. Why are the names of Trump's appointments so reminiscent of those which Ayn Rand chose for the incompetent second-ratters who people her novel?

  164. @Robert Stadler Yeah ! Even the Eagle knew a con when it saw one ! On the *other hand, Trump is *definitely child enough TO respond to that act of territorial predator that way.

  165. Mr Egan, PLEASE keep this issue in the spotlight! With all the chaos whirling around this president, a topic like this can easily be lost in the underbrush. Don't let that happen, its way too important, we in the west treasure our pubic land. Voices like yours are invaluable to the greater public.

  166. It has often been said that a truly smart president surrounds himself with the best and the brightest, not so trump. He has surrounded himself with the incompetent and the self servers, in other words people just like himself. The only ones that can stop this mob of miscreants are we voters. This coming election vote a straight Democratic ticket. We need to rid ourselves of the party of trump and send them back to their swamp.

  167. Interesting... The fact that the rich are willing to pay $1500 for a glamping experience, in the same place you get to enjoy for next to nothing, is part of the "problem". It drives people nuts when they see someone else get a better deal than them. They might not be happy until everyone is either glamping or building a mansion on top of the once public mountain.

  168. Spot on, Timothy. "The gallery of awful human beings, monumental incompetents, wife-beaters, frauds and outright criminals appointed to high positions in the Trump administration is large and varied. As wanted posters, they would fill an entire post office wall." If we allow this small time gangster and his crime family another 4 years they will roll back the Constitution. If we put a real human being back in the White House she, or he, can put a lot of these things to right again; it will take a lot of hard work and time but it can be undone. If We the People don't fall asleep again and forget to vote. When oil and coal become obsolete the oligarchs like the koch bothers are going to see their net worth plummet. Right now oil is valued the same whether it is capped or in the pipeline. If it is no longer the economic commodity, and driver, that it currently is those capped wells become worthless. As does a lot of the wealth of the extraction czars. If there were a way for these people to write some of those loses off maybe they wouldn't try so hard to prevent the future from happening. Or maybe they should just get prosecuted for sedition; they are trying to destroy our Nation, after all.

  169. This raping of the people's/public lands and viewing nature as an obstacle to corporate exploitation and riches did not begin with the Trump mis-administration of the U.S. government. What Trump is doing is straight from the Reagan mis-administration's playbook. Advertised to a not-too-bright or caring public on the conservative side as "government isn't the solution, it is the problem." No, the problem is the Republican party--once it veered hard right to please the likes and profits of the most rapacious big corporations, cold-hearted capitalists, big polluters, and Wall Street investors. How? 1. Advertising their way to power, starting with actor & GE corporate spokesman Ronald Reagan to condition American minds by promoting a false consciousness that allowed them to commandeer and ruin public lands for private corporate gains. Clever little soundbite catchphrases such as trickle-down economics and deregulation and more recently "drown the government in the bathtub. 2. Reagan too appointed the most incompetent people he could find who were at their core being opposed to the missions of the very government agencies they were hired to run. Remember James Watt of the Dept. of Interior and Anne Gorsuch of the EPA? Attempts to weaken the Clean Air & Water Act so big polluters can pollute to their hearts' content? The Republican Party has long been out to ravage America the Beautiful for private gain. After all, what is the federal government for? See the pattern?

  170. @PB And yet Utah keeps voting for Republicans who will continue to rape their land until no tourism will occur.

  171. Just last night I had a wonderful dream. Trump was out of office, had been tried and convicted of various crimes, and thanks to a certain Speaker of the House of Representatives, was sent to serve his prison sentence out West, where, on a work/release program he was a groundskeeper at the Grand Canyon, sweeping and raking up the biodegradable manure of the magnificent packmules carrying visiters up and down the Canyon. Then, today, awake, back to reality, I read Tim's litany of nightmarish men and their intent of destroying our public lands.

  172. Orrin Hatch was the guy who wanted Bears Ears and got this president to sign an executive order opening up National Monuments for private interests. Republicans have been pushing this since Reagan. Libertarian nonsense that will bury us and wildlife and our cats and dogs and other pets as well.

  173. I continue to wonder how Trump continues to get away with his declarations. Why do we continue to listen to him?

  174. With the possible impending disposal of public lands into private hands, greedy entrepreneurs will soon be able to develop the lands into commercial enterprises with roller coasters, bumper cars, and merry go rounds. Americans in the future will be able to travel to new exotic places such as the Yellowstone oil patch, the Smoky Mountains tobacco farm, the Grand Canyon dump and landfill, the Glacier Park popsicle stand, and the list goes on. Wild birds and animals will no longer be a bother to visitors in these exotic commercial locations anymore.

  175. Timothy, yours is one of the most important voices out there. Keep writing about ecology and keep on camping! It will take many years and hard work (and a democratic house and senate) to restore what we can of natural America after the orange blight, and his henchmen, have passed into history.

  176. Come out west where we live to see no better example of how the politicians in these many red but magnificently breathtakingly beautiful states are out of touch with what the people want, but the people are not in the habit of voting for Democrats. We moved to northern Utah in 2017. 3 separate groups of neighbors introduced themselves and said the same thing: Don't judge us by our politicians, they are out of touch with the people. And boy are they! Trump did a Reagan and couldn't wait to give away public lands in UT for the fossil fuel and lumber industries to lease for a few bucks and explore, exploit, and ruin for private gain and profit. Trump's takeaway of public land here shrank Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and the Grand Staircase Escalante to half its original size. Our 2 GOP senators and most of the GOP Utah politicians cheered the move. Native American and environmental groups & many citizens protested Trump's actions, but see what happens when your state and national politicians applaud such moves. Also, when Utans voted for medical marijuana, expanding Medicaid, and against gerrymandering in 2018, the state legislators said these were merely "suggestions." Why does this happen? A majority of Utahans say they are conservative, and though they don't like Trump or their politicians, they cannot imagine voting for Democrats. Talk about identify politics! This is the challenge for the Democratic Party. People here agree with Dem policies but vote GOP

  177. @PB "though they don't like Trump or their politicians, they cannot imagine voting for Democrats." Therein lies the problem. Either they are stupid or they really do support Trump - probably the former. At least one hopes, but not very optimistically, that will sinply not vote in 2020.

  178. “The Founding fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold, Pendley wrote"". This is clearly a false statement as the founding fathers had no inkling as to what lay beyond the Appalachians - vast territories claimed by Spain, France and England. The original states with open borders to their west were the ones who claimed those lands. New York was the first state to cede its western claims to the federal government, the others followed thereafter in the early 1800's. The rest of the American territory to the Pacific, including Alaska and Hawaii was subsequently acquired by purchase, through war or thread of war or through plain theft of native lands. The purchases were paid for from tax revenue contributed by our forbearers. Their descendants, many of us living today, have thus a stake in what little public lands remain. The rest was given mostly to newly established states as part of statehood, to settlers, mining interests and railroad companies as incentives to built railroads. Some land was set aside for National Parks and forests. The latter through the Forest Reserve Act (1891), which gave the president power to conserve and protect public forest lands (presently 160 million acres) to help conserve the forests and watersheds of the West. Other public lands are protected under similar Acts of Congress. Nowhere does it say that the president can arbitrarily dispose of such lands, which nevertheless will not prevent Trump from trying.

  179. When Pendley proclaimed that "The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold." he was lying. That's not what they said, and it's definitely not what they did. The Northwest Territory Ordnance of 1787's most famous phrase is that "schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged", and by law significant quantities of public land were dedicated to that purpose. A great public university was mandated for the territory - and in fact a number of them were built.

  180. @Marvant Duhon, all due respect-- lying is the lingua franca of this so-called administration. His cult base does not care about the lies, nor the results; the corporate sponsors of all this relish in the freedom to rape and pillage "our land," and they consider lying to be just part of the game; as far as GOP elected officials, well there is not a single one with any personal dignity or concern for either truth OR public lands. A few unhappy Montana relatives of Tim don't add up to enough resistance. Dark days indeed.

  181. @Marvant Duhon Thanks for the reminder. Many, many school were built with proceeds from the sale of state and federal land outside of the original 13 states. And a search of his 2016 article finds no mention of education.

  182. @Marvant Duhon The land grant universities were funded by grants of federal land to the states. The states built universities on some of that land and used the bulk of the land to farm, ranch, lease and sell, which generated revenue to build and operate the universities. It was always the expectation of the federal government that the land grants would be out to productive use, including being sold to the private sector.

  183. Trump voters won't know about this because they all watch Murdoch's version of reality tv on FOX. They've elected a president who is just like them. We need someone to write yet another book. Each cabinet department gets a chapter. Then offer Netflix a deal to make an animated mini-series of it. Otherwise no one will know about the vast corruption and pillaging going on right now in every department. Trump may be a Walter Mitty-ish ignoramus, but he's pulling off the greatest robbery in the history of civilization.

  184. @mary bardmess Read Clinton Money and then convince yourself that the country and world would be better off with the criminals in office.

  185. @mary bardmess Good idea. Make sure that he writers can keep it at a fourth grade level.

  186. Last night was spent at a public campground, Oregon’s Honeyman State Park. Families are everywhere. Most of the bicycles sport training wheels. Smiles from dawn to dusk. The courtesies are contagious. All of this was a gift from the greatest generation. Trump’s generation? Not so much.

  187. @Caveman 007 It's not generational, it's greed, an affliction affecting all generations. Some more than others as the pendulum of this fragile American Experiment swings from wax to wane.

  188. @Caveman 007 I've heard Oregon's state parks are a thing of wonder. I wish they had comparable in other states. If you go to the campgrounds in the desert you will see mostly childless mountain bikers outfitted in the most modern mountain climbing gear, and retirees in huge land yacht RVs running the AC all night and watching videos. and for all that you need to book months in advance.

  189. @Caveman 007 State parks and land are generally in better shape and better maintained than federal lands, which tend to be neglected. Federal lands that are leased to ranchers to graze their cattle are in better shape than "natural" lands under government management. More than half the forests of America are east of the Mississippi. The overwhelming majority are under private and state management. When is the last time you heard about an uncontrolled wildfire raging uncontrolled for weeks east of the Mississippi? the tragedy of the commons occurs when you grant coastal elites the power to dictate land management for land thousands of miles away. Oregon would be much better off if they were managing the land in their state than the alphabet federal agencies.

  190. The Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument was the best thing that ever happened to the local economy. Republican politicians at the state and national level called for those Monuments to be "gutted", while claiming the locals didn't support it. They were lying their lips off.

  191. @Frank O And with that area, it IS the local economy who benefits. When I stayed out there last year, I spent about $3000 on lodging, experiences, food and shopping. Every penny went to locally owned businesses like the B&B, ranch, restaurants, outfitters and shops selling local crafts. The experience out there is incredible because it is local. It's not manufactured and generic. The people you interact with aren't minimum wage employees- they live there and share their experiences. The experience in National Parks is not the same. Out in Montana, I rode in Bob Marshall and it was an incredible real experience into solitude. I also rode at Glacier and while it was pretty, there was nothing wild about it- it was a step or two up from a Disney experience. And I'm not sure what is worse about selling off public lands- that they are turned into targets for resource extractions or that they are turned into Disney style tourist traps, or potentially, enclaves for the rich.

  192. @Frank O. The locals fought the GSE preservation and anything to do with preserving that country at every turn. Just like the Wyoming delegation screamed and cried when GTNP was basically created by a rich rockefeller. Now of coarse they still whine and cry about "big gubment" but none would want it any other way. If anything, I liked it better when there was no monument because you could do whatever you want and nobody knew about it. But as americas population booms towards a 1/2 billion nothing will last very long so "save" these places, put up the signs, lay out the rules, pave the roads etc and let's get on with it. Better than calling in the bulldozers and locked gates. As Ed Abbey said about population growth, "nothing that is wild or beautiful or free, will survive the coming tidal wave of humans".

  193. @MC "I'm not sure what is worse ". If you are really unsure which is worse, I pity you.Even if you believe popular national parks are comparable to Disney attractions, have you ever really compared a Disney attraction to an open pit mine?

  194. Thank you for this column, I wish it was running in every paper in the land. I'm old and have had a full life, so many precious memories are of all the times I've explored and spent in remarkable, irreplaceable parts of our country. My heart is breaking for the disastrous black hole I see our grandchildren's future and all of nature being railroaded into.

  195. You don't know what you got till it's gone. For many East Coasters this is an abstract concept as large tracts of public land are a rare thing. Too bad some of those Western supporters of state transfer or private sale of BLM land don't know what it is like out here. Once it's private there is no guarantee you'll ever be allowed to step foot on it again. These lands will be sold to The Best Corporations for mineral and gas extraction, and it's going to be a hard lesson for the would be ranchers, loggers, and recreationists because it's a one way trip. There's no going back once it's gone.

  196. @Aaron The president and his administration can only grant usage of MLB and National Forest Service lands for mining, logging, grazing, and related activity for access. He cannot unilaterally sell or transfer those lands without Congressional approval. Fortunately there are some acts, like the Antiquities, Endangered Species and Environmental Protection Acts, among others, that can be used to challenge, or at least delay implementation of ill-conceived and endangering moves by this administration in the courts. The best solution is obviously to vote him and his ilk out of office.

  197. Trump Casino coming soon to your favorite national park.

  198. @Aaron I live 10 miles from the Atlantic, but only 2 miles from The Everglades. I consider that a large tract of public land. What the big sugar industry gets away with is criminal. If you ever get the chance, go by canoe and experience the diversity before it’s gone. The current administration views it as just a swamp. They will drill in a heartbeat. I understand your pain.

  199. Montana's lovely Senator Steve Daines is the face of hypocrisy: talks about how he supports public lands, but votes to open proposed wilderness areas to development, supports reducing national monuments, wants to cut funding for Interior, etc. All while publicizing pictures of he and his family hiking in the National Forest. How special.

  200. All of these places are undergoing irreversible change due to global heating, climate crisis, population explosion, loss of habitat, mass extinction, all species moving toward the poles. et cetera. These places are already doomed. It no longer matters what any individual or entity thinks or how it acts, Diaper don is merely accelerating the process.

  201. @oldBassGuy - Fellow cynic, you make my heart go pitty-pat!

  202. Mr. Egan, why do you keep repeating "Trump, Trump, Trump"? Every single appointment and every single policy you mention in this article has been championed by the Republican Party mainstream since 1980. I appreciate you for bringing these issues to readers' attention, but let's put the blame squarely where it belongs: the GOP, not just "Trump."

  203. @Jeff - You bet, Jeff! Trump/Pendley or (R)eagan/Watt = same, same. (R)eagan was equally as vile as GoodBrain, he just hid it behind enuf' false amiability to fool the (R)'s easily-fooled base. (R)s fought their guy, Teddy Roosevelt tooth and nail over his land preservation actions and have chipped away at public lands protections in every (R) admin ever since. Gotta' maximize the Big Bucks, doncha' know?

  204. Having grown up in four of America's National Parks and served as a Peace Corps forestry volunteer in Níger, West África, it saddens me that we haven't found a way to check individual and corporate greed. If "what's in it for me," is the only viable mechanism for protecting the environment, then we should all, republicans and democrats, demand that our elected officials figure out what the "what" is, and act accordingly.

  205. Do you not remember the statement Steve Bannon made early on? " The Deconstruction of the Administrative State has begun", he said to thunderous applause at the Conservative Political Action Committee or CPAC forum. This is exactly what has and continues to happen in our country, and we go along with barely a whimper. Every nation that has attempted this type of construct has ended very badly. I highly suggest the media and the people of this country stand up and fight for what belongs to them and future generations or we are lost.

  206. The looting of the nation is not limited to the financial in Reagan Restoration end-stage vulture capitalism.

  207. Distilled to its essence, the Trump administration is about facilitating and accelerating acquisition of private wealth and power among a few well-situated and utterly amoral white people, no matter the extent of the damage to society or Earth itself. They will violate every norm and law to get there. These people must not only be tossed out of office. They should then also be tried and imprisoned for the remainder of their sorry lives.

  208. Truly horrifying how Republicans constantly put persons in charge of agencies the missions of which they abhor. This is not just a Trump phenomenon. Dub-ya did it as well. The Republicans have zero respect for our nation's institutions with the exception of their beloved military.

  209. I just tried posting this article on Facebook and it wasn't allowed because people have complained to Facebook that it was abusive. I'm guessing it was friends of Pendley who know how to use Facebooks algorithms on abuse to their benefit. Shame on Facebook.

  210. These widespread "acting" appointments of malignant personnel are one proof that Republicans, in the pay of their donors, are willing and able to degrade, and disable the hated people's government agency by agency.

  211. Excellent and important article.

  212. Spot on. Stay on his case. Only 17 months. Can you claim to be a Montanan? If so run for the Senate.

  213. I’m glad to see that someone is working to keep Americans focused on our public lands, love of which is not a bipartisan issue. People fulminating here about Mr. Egan’s ubiquitous anger before crediting him with being fundamentally correct ought to ask themselves: when is it time for decent ordinary people to become angry? Anger (or better, indignation) can be channeled for good as well as evil. Why do we allow domestic terrorists and demogogues a monopoly on this resource? Trump and his cabinet and his homegrown epigones are attacking so much of our social and cultural fabric that it’s hard to keep track: public lands, endangered species, scientists in government positions, poor and/or Latinx and/or Muslim immigrants, Congress including specific Congresswomen, our global standing ammong foreign leaders, our sense of fellow-feeling and decorum (or what’s left of it), farmers, the safety of an economy he takes credit for but inherited from Barack Obama... and that is the tip of a “yuge” iceberg. I am, frankly, angry. Citizens of a nation in perpetual danger of mass shootings watching the president burn the world down ought to be angry and active in pursuing this toxic administration’s ignominious defeat and disgrace. Mr. Egan’s rhetoric is appropriate, if no substitute for concrete action from citizens en masse. Looking at Puerto Rico and Hong Kong, we should be ashamed. Note to NYT: McConnell’s Deripaska deal should make us angry too. Talk about it; it matters.

  214. I go dog sledding every winter in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. The Boundary waters are a federally protected Wilderness Area on the Canadian boarder. Trump's people are about to permit the the opening of a copper mine that has the very real potential of destroying the entire area. The Obama administration denied the permits. Trump's people have no interest in protecting the area.

  215. It seems that Trump is more compromised by Putin than most folks speculated. Trump has installed the most corrupt agency heads to dismantle our stewardship of public lands . Fostering the fossil fuel industry including coal Trump is contributing to climate change while polluting our air and water to gain profits for his donor base. Trump has damaged our relations with our traditional allies while fawning over the world's dictators like Putin. Trump is willing and ready to destroy America to enrich himself and his billionaire cronies while embracing murderous dictators . Leaving America racially divided hopelessly in debt without allies will be Trump's legacy as he builds his Moscow Trump Tower with a penthouse for Putin and one for himself.