The Bundy’s and their militia friends continue to occupy a Federal building in a bird sanctuary near Burns, Oregon. Why does the occupation matter? President Theodore Roosevelt, the first Conservation President explained in his autobiography what the reasoning was behind the Conservation Movement.
To summarize his thoughts: (a)Roosevelt believed that the nation’s resources belonged to the people with the President being the steward of it’s protection. (b) Roosevelt believed that the indiscriminate exploitation of our land was morally wrong.
Roosevelt’s first conservation task was to pass a reclamation bill. His plan was to irrigate arid land and reclaim it for the use of the public. Up to the time of Teddy Roosevelt, laws protecting private interests against the public welfare were set in stone. The laws until Roosevelt protected the speculator and large land grabbers, instead of the settler and home builder.
Teddy Roosevelt said the following: ” The idea that our natural resources were inexhaustible still obtained—-. The relation of the conservation of natural resources to the problems of national welfare and national efficiency had not yet dawned on the public mind. The reclamation of arid public lands in the West was still a matter for private enterprise alone; and our magnificent river system with its superb possibilities for public usefulness, was dealt with by the National Government not as a unit, but as a disconnected series of pork barrel problems, whose only real interest was in their effect on the re-election or defeat of a Congressman.”
The Reclamation Act was passed on June 17, 1902. During the years of 1902 and 1906, around 3 million acres were irrigated which helped more than 30,000 farms.
If not for the forestry program we would most likely have leveled the existing forest for profit, but now our forest are an ongoing resource, for now and in the future. We are talking about the preservation of 60 million acres of national forest lands.
President Roosevelt said the following: ” The principles thus formulated and applied may be summed up in the statement that the rights of the public to the natural resources outweigh private rights, and must be given its first consideration.”
Roosevelt’s policy received huge opposition from private interests.
Roosevelt continued: ” One of the principles whose application was the source of much hostility was this: It is better for the government to help a poor man to make a living for his family then to help a rich man make more profit for his company.———————As a result, the small settlers and their families became, on the whole, the best friends the forest service has; although in places their ignorance was played on by demagogues to influence them against the policy that was primarily for their interests.”
****”Another principle which led to the bitterest antagonism of all was this—–whoever(except for a bona-fide settler) takes public property for private profit should pay for what he gets. In the effort to apply this principle, the forest service obtained a decision from the Attorney General that it was legal to make the men who grazed sheep and cattle on the national forests pay for what they got.” In the face of opposition this fee was collected.
BEAUTY AND NATIONAL PARKS
Roosevelt said that,’ other economic benefits were more remote, but which bore directly upon our because they add to the beauty of living and therefore to the joy of life.”
He continued,” More important was the taking of steps to preserve from destruction beautiful and wonderful wild creatures whose existence was threatened by greed and wantonness.”
Among these places that Roosevelt preserved just happens to be 51 bird reservations which included the place that the Bundy’s have invaded and occupied. So here we are over 100 years since President Teddy Roosevelt preserved the bird sanctuary in Oregon. He wanted to preserve it for its beauty and for our enjoyment of beautiful creatures.
The Bundy’s want a free handout. They don’t want to pay for the right to graze upon we the peoples property. Our land is Federal land. It is Federal land to insure and guarantee it’s protection from its exploitation and profit for private use. It is all of our land, a gift for posterity. Our country has within it such beauty that without the government’s protection would have been exploited for money a long time ago. Thanks to President Roosevelt we have national parks of such beauty and grandeur, they belong to all of us for all of time. It is not to be used for profit and greed. The Bundy’s are free loaders who are illegally occupying the bird sanctuary.
Let us hope that no violence will take place, but let us also hope, that we maintain respect for the law. You may disagree with a law but we still must obey the law or else we have anarchy. I hope that the Bundy gang is arrested and tried in a court of law. They have put tremendous pressure and strain on the economic resources of the town of Burns. The Bundy’s have cost the town money and time spent by the local authorities. I hope that they are forced to somehow pay for the costs that the town has incurred.
It is a shame that some of us seem to have forgotten the reasons behind having Federal land and Federal policy meant to insure the continuing usage of our heritage our beautiful lands and parks, as well as the enjoyment of birds. Some things are just more valuable than making money off the land.