Taking in the beauty of the colorful badlands and remarkably preserved pieces of ancient forest gave me a profound and renewed appreciation for the wealth of public lands we have here, and the responsibility that comes with them. As a student who takes advantage of our public access for hiking and camping, I believe that these lands are one of the most important things we can pass on.
Like many states in the West, Arizona is blessed with an abundance of public lands to enjoy and share with future generations. Access to these lands, owned by all of us is an important part of our heritage, and something that is not only unique to the United States, but which must also be continually fought for and protected because they still face threats.
In recent years, the current administration has sought to open millions of acres of public land for oil and gas development, even in areas next to treasured landscapes, like the Petrified Forest.
Just last year, the Bureau of Land Management leased several new sections of public land near Petrified Forest for drilling. What’s more, some of these leases were sold noncompetitively, meaning oil and gas companies didn’t have to bid on them, and ended up paying pennies on the dollar to develop public resources.
National parks have been protected because they are truly unique and irreplaceable. To open up these places for oil and gas leasing puts them at risk, and it makes even less sense when there’s no industry demand. After visiting this one-of-a-kind piece of our shared public land, it’s clearer to me than ever that it should be protected, and that any development of public lands must benefit the public.
Written by Joceline D. Moreles.