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Republican Platform Could Spell Doom for National Parks and Forests

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The provision would mean an end to federal protection of public parkland

The Republican Party’s National Convention (RNC) kicks off on Monday, July 18 in Cleveland, Ohio. While issues of housing and infrastructure have taken a back seat to ones like immigration and national security, a proposal surfaced in the GOP’s 2016 RNC platform did catch our eye. As reported by Think Progress, the GOP’s official platform includes this provision about U.S. National Parks and National Forests:

Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states.

This comes on the heels of the highly publicized standoff between what Think Progress aptly calls "anti-government extremists" and federal officials at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon this January, where an armed "occupation" lasted for over a month. Some are concerned that this type of legislative change would lead to development on land once owned by the federal government and meant for public recreation, education, and enrichment.

In a recent floor speech, Senator Martin Heinrich (D–New Mexico) put it like this:

I have long believed that public lands are an equalizer in America, where access to public lands ensures that you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the great outdoors or to introduce your children to hunting, fishing and hiking.

This land grab idea is just as ludicrous as denying climate change, just as detached from reality, and similarly comes at the expense of our public health and protection of our public lands and resources.

The resolution will be put to a vote at next week’s convention.