Prod Congress to protect our national resources SanTan Sun News

Prod Congress to protect our national resources

August 6th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
Prod Congress to protect our national resources
Opinion
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By Jack Carson

 

As a veteran of the Marine Corps, it’s been my honor to defend America’s values and liberties. However, you can’t seriously talk about defending American values and liberties without defending the land from which our forefathers sprung and explored.

The sanctity of our lands has to be protected as does the rights of our people. That’s why I’m lending my voice in support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that has been protecting our iconic public lands since the mid-1960s, which will expire this fall if Congress does not act.

I am not an environmental advocate. However, I am an avid angler and hiker, and so the issue of conservation is important to me and spurs me to share my perspective.

As a logistics officer in the Marines, it was my duty to protect American interests domestically and in Iraq, where I was deployed to help equip the Iraqi army to help defeat ISIS. Though I have returned to civilian life here in Arizona, I still believe in that duty. I believe that part of being a patriot is preserving the beauty of our lands on which we all live.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided funding for conservation projects and for recreation activities across the country. It’s been used to protect places from National Parks to local ballfields in every state since in its inception in 1964.

It’s also a great asset for the American people because it provides funding for conservation purposes without taking money from taxpayers. Instead, LWCF is funded by oil and gas revenues generated by energy companies paying to drill for oil and gas offshore.

However, If Congress does not act, LWCF will expire this fall. Our Arizona delegation in Congress must work to ensure that LWCF gets re-authorized, for it has protected some of Arizona’s most iconic places.

LWCF funding has helped protect places like Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Parks, and state parks like Lost Dutchman and Patagonia Lake.

For Congress to let it expire when it has done so much for our communities without spending a cent of taxpayers’ money would be a travesty. All those who care about our public lands must share their support for LWCF so that our elected officials in Washington DC work to ensure that the program is preserved for the benefit of future generations.

The person currently overseeing how LWCF dollars are spent (and requested) is Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.

Secretary Zinke is a veteran himself, and a self-described outdoorsman. He also claims to be a Teddy Roosevelt fan, and yet President Roosevelt was instrumental in creating our country’s conservation ethic as our country grew and we realized reckless and ruthless destruction of our natural resources was not an American value.

Since Mr. Zinke has been in office, his proposed budgets for the Department of the Interior have called for enormous cuts to LWCF. I am severely disappointed that Secretary Zinke has failed to champion this program, a cornerstone of America’s conservation policy.

Our lands and waters are a part of our legacy, and future generations deserve an opportunity to explore and cherish our country’s landscapes just as we have.

America is the greatest country on earth, and our natural treasures contribute to that fact. Arizona, the Grand Canyon state, is visited by tourists from all over the world to enjoy our protected public lands. The American flag should fly over pristine lands, and programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund help us care and be proud of our landscapes. Our Arizona elected officials must work to re-authorize LWCF, an American policy that protects our American treasures.

-Jack Carson is a medically retired Marine Corps Officer and recent graduate of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. As a Marine Corps Logistics Officer, Carson advised the commander of a 1,200-strong engineering battalion on logistics and served overseas in Operation Inherent Resolve.

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