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October 10, 2012

This Land is OUR Land, or is it Oil Land?

Athan 2I recently enjoyed some excellent hiking and camping in one of America’s wildest places, southern Utah’s Canyonlands.  Some Sierra Club colleagues and I joined the Great Old Broads for Wilderness for a “Broad Walk” the last weekend of September.  It was my first trip to that spectacular part of the Beehive State.

The Canyonlands, both the 300,000 acres in the National Park and the almost 3 million acres of federal land (mainly BLM land) that surround it, is one of the most unique and beautiful places on the planet. Formed by rivers like the Colorado and Green, and shaped by the prehistoric sea that created the Great Basin, Canyonlands offers a collection of stunning canyons, rivers, mesas, cliffs and archeological sites. Thousands of visitors go there annually to hike, camp, rock climb and recreate.

We saw some tremendous landscapes, including the above photo of the Colorado River taken during anAthan 1 overflight with Ecoflight.  What struck me was seeing thousands of acres of wild and largely untamed land. In addition to wild lands, we also hiked among thousand-year archeological sites and petroglyphs left behind by ancient First Nation civilizations.

When most people look at places like the Canyonlands, that’s what they see – a great place to visit, explore and enjoy.

Most people – but not all.

At the recent presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney boldly stated that if elected he planned to double the amount of oil and gas drilling on our public lands - public lands like the Canyonlands. Double the drilling means double the pollution, double the spills, double the industrialization of our public lands.  Instead of protecting one-of-a-kind places like the Canyonlands for future generations to enjoy, Gov. Romney would lock up our public lands for oil and gas drilling and mining.

Gov. Romney admitted earlier in the campaign that he “didn’t get it” when it comes to America’s public lands – and that’s an understatement!  He doesn’t get that America’s public lands protect spectacular beauty and unique places, support hundreds of thousands of tourism and recreation jobs, and generate millions in tax revenue for local communities. 

More importantly, he does not understand that our public lands belong to us as Americas, and that our public lands also represent the best of American democracy.

These are OUR lands, not oil lands.

--Athan ManuelDirector, Sierra Club Lands Protection Program

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Paid for by the Sierra Club Political Committee,www.sierraclub.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee

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