Mine, all mine

We are, by birthright, the biggest landholder in this country. No, it is not Sierra Pacific, Bank of America or Angelo Tsakopolis; it is you and I. We have the tidy sum of 623 million acres sitting all across the country. It is our public land, and, basically, it was put into a protected status to keep it out of the hands of those people in the private sector.

Our land is being held for us by the government, which is one of the few good reasons to have a government. Because this land is being managed for us, and our tax dollars are going to keep it maintained, it must be at least minimally accessible to us.

Public lands are a great equalizer. Any person of any means can take off into the public lands and hike or fish or do nothing. That is, if there is a road or trail into them.

A political ball is bouncing around now about limiting access to federal land. Clinton wanted to put much of it out of reach by closing roads. George Bush—well, he wants it open and is also entertaining the idea of putting it into the hands of the private sector, which will close it off in many respects.

Then, the government maintains some public lands on which it sells off the mining rights for economically productive activities like mineral extraction. To add to the complexity of the issue, there are private lands bordering these public lands, and the private owners want to keep things private and profitable. (See “This land ain’t your land,” ) They don’t seem to understand that our lands are important to us and that we deserve access.