NWF President and CEO Collin O'Mara calls on candidates to stand up for public lands. Image: Aaron Kindle
ESTES PARK Colo. -- At their annual meeting, the National Wildlife Federation and its 50 state and territorial affiliates are speaking out in unison on public lands: Keep them in public hands. Affiliates from across the country are stressing the importance of national public lands -- national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, coastlines, monuments and the open range land that maintains wildlife migration corridors.
During a June 16 news conference O'Mara said if candidates for public office "don’t stand with our public lands, we’re not going to support them. We encourage every hunter and angler out there and everyone else who loves the outdoors to do the same."
Here are his full comments:
So there you have it. Voices from across the country all saying the same thing. We need to keep public lands in public hands. A great Coloradan, (former Interior Secretary) Ken Salazar, once said America’s public lands are the birthright of all Americans and the envy of the world. This election is going to be about a lot of issues. You’re going to hear folks talking about all kinds of things they want to see happen or change in Washington. We want every candidate across this country to tell us where they stand on public lands. We want to make sure that every sportsman, every hunter, every angler, every gardner, every birder, every hiker, every canoer, everyone who loves the outdoors is taking this into consideration. There is no one that loves the outdoors that should support any candidate that is proposing to divest and sell our public lands. This should be an absolute for all of us. And so what you see behind us, (pointing to the mountains) and folks from every great state in this country are all coming together for this common message. We have Republicans back here, you got Democrats, you got Tea Partyers, you got crazy liberals. We all think, at the end of the day, our public lands have to stay in public hands. We’re going to be asking candidates across the country where they stand. And if they don’t stand with our public lands, we’re not going to support them. We encourage every hunter and angler out there and everyone else who loves the outdoors to do the same. We need to make sure this debate ends now, that we’re talking about better management of our public lands, how to have more access to our public lands, make sure we’re preparing our public lands for the next generation, not fighting a fight, that frankly, was won a hundred years ago when President Roosevelt first decided to set aside so much of our great public estate for all of our benefit. Let’s keep our public lands in public hands.