Dear Editor:

When it comes to our public lands, our voices should matter. National, state and local parks are public lands, owned by those whose taxes pay for their protection. However, what many citizens don’t know is that there are lands that we pay for that are not used for protection, but rather for productivity. These lands are also our lands, and we need to exercise responsibility with them as well.

We have to take care of our lands. It’s as simple as that. The energy boom does not give us permission to recklessly destroy land in order to collect a natural resource. On the contrary, we need to make sure that nature isn’t abused. There exist regulations, but trust me when I say the government can’t keep up with development. Too many people with vested interest in extracting oil and gas have been allowed to do so nearly without limitation. I know we need the energy, but must it cost the health of our environment and the beauty of our surroundings? Our nation has not gone about this energy boom the wrong way.

We do have the power — our voice — to make a difference! We have a duty to protect our land for generations to come. I have taken my stand: to educate and spread knowledge of the issues pertaining to our national parks. The tables are turning as people stand up for what they love. Arches National Park provides a great example of the power of the people. In 2008, the government offered up public land leases bordering the park. In fact, the oil and drilling rigs would have been viewed from some of the famous attractions within the Arches. Yet, thanks to public outcry, the plan stalled and from the aftermath came the creation of Master Leasing Plans. MLPs require a greater analysis of the impacts energy development will have on the land, wildlife, tourism and recreation. It helps to balance the needs of conservation with energy development.

We need to fight for equal ground. A step in the right direction is to widely use Master Leasing Plans in the process. There is no need for radicalism, or labels, or association with one party or the other. This issue carries across all people. Take responsibility for our lands by keeping our government responsible for its protection. This is your environment, do something about it!