· Reading Time: 10 minutes

UNKNOWN VALUES

The values we maintain as Americans through collective ownership of some 640 million acres of national public lands in the United States, are so incredible, and so extraordinary, an honest procedure for quantifying their total value is unknown to exist.

Public lands are places to be awe-inspired and astonished by the magnificent natural beauty that radiates directly outward from mother nature herself.

Retaining sizable tracts of the natural landscape removed from the possibility of private ownership, is fundamentally imperative to securing long-term preservation of the ecological, scenic, cultural, and other related values natural to the land itself.

The United States encompasses 2.27 billion acres of total surface land…
Together, the American People collectively own 640 million acres of those lands.


Source: Congressional Research Service
Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data

PUBLIC OWNERSHIP

Public ownership of land protects and conserves the complexities and beauties inherent to the natural world, sustained free from modern residential development.

The prevention of contemporary residential sprawl onto lands owned by the public, inevitably helps maintain the inherent wild and natural qualities of the greater ecosystem and landscape. As a result, publicly owned lands have become de facto turf and terrain for the preservation of wildlife habitat.

Conserving the health of wild ecosystems, while maintaining lasting preservation of the inherent natural qualities of the land itself, fundamentally requires permanent maintenance of public land ownership in the United States.

INTACT ECOSYSTEMS

Public land ownership has safeguarded the last wild and undisturbed eco-systems found within the modern American landscape, still lingering as relatively ecologically intact today. For example:

→ The Hoh Rainforest in Washington’s Olympic National Park.

→ The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex in Northwestern Montana.

→ Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

→ Yellowstone National Park and surrounding region in Wyoming, Montana, & Idaho.

All regions that continue to support principally wild and intact ecosystems today, because they’re located on lands owned collectively by the American people.

CONSERVING NATURE

Public land ownership conserves a semblance of the evolutionary course and ecological dynamic set in motion by mother nature herself, free from the exploitation and plunder associated with the individual profit motives, and large scale landscape altering encroachments of modern humanity.

Consider that protecting the values inherent to our remaining wild landscapes is impossible to quantify, because the values bestowed upon the world from mother nature are fundamentally priceless.

Where else would we obtain air, food, and water, if not for mother nature?

KEEP PUBLIC LANDS IN PUBLIC HANDS

Based on the economic theorems associated with the capitalistic model, our last surviving wilderness landscapes in the United States would hypothetically become unsustainably exploited for their natural resources, and/or otherwise commercially developed, if held in ownership exclusively through the authority and domain of private individuals and corporations.

Private control over all lands within the confines our nation’s borders, would cause irreversible damage to the inherent natural character of the last wild and untamed, breathtaking and beautiful, and substantially still intact wilderness ecosystems remaining in existence.

Assuming naturalness is the fundamental and necessary condition for all native life forms to survive, and to thrive, it is imperative that we protect as much naturalness as possible. Since we should protect as much naturalness as possible, we should protect our public lands. For not only the benefit of our generation here now, but also for the future inheritance of all generations to come after.

ECOLOGICAL VALUES

Maintaining the ecological values inherent to the natural landscape is often a life-or-death proposition for legions of our native wildlife species, who’ve come to depend on contemporary human efforts to conserve wild and undeveloped regions, for habitat they can still live amongst.

Besides habitat for wildlife, unbroken forests also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and replenish it with oxygen. Cleaner air and water quality are a natural by-product of publicly owned lands.

Healthier wildlife migration routes and breeding grounds. The preservation of diverse plant and animal communities. The protection of biodiversity. Climate change mitigation. The ecological value of protecting public land ownership in the United States is transcendent and incalculable.

EDUCATIONAL VALUES

Biology, botany, ecology, geology, in addition to a plethora of other environmental subjects, can all be understood better by visiting publicly owned lands. In fact, public lands are actually unbound outdoor classrooms, open to all kinds of new learning and growth.

The opportunity for expanding individual perspectives about the human condition, by increasing our awareness and understanding of the natural world we inhabit, is available by virtue of our collective ownership of public lands in the United States.

Preserving opportunities to have experiences in wild places can also help us re-prioritize our individual human values. These experiences may also hold potential for helping us find new methods for instilling a broader sense of humility, within ourselves.

SCIENTIFIC VALUES

Public lands protect the setting and raw materials for numerous scientific inquiries. Access to publicly owned land is essential for ecologists, biologists, and other scientists to perform scientific research.

Case in point… Around 80% of the world’s medicines are derived from other life forms. Therefore, publicly owned lands not only protect biodiversity through the preservation of habitats for wildlife to inhabit (ecological values), but they also protect the opportunity for scientists to develop and discover new medicines by maintaining access to more biodiversity (scientific values).

RECREATIONAL VALUES

You can hike, fish, hunt, camp, ride horses, rock climb, view wildlife, take photographs, pray, kayak, canoe, or raft on public lands and waters. Recreational opportunities are bountiful within the bounds of our national public land system in the United States.

While the logistics of engaging in every aforementioned recreational activity in just a single day, might prove difficult, it probably wouldn’t be impossible either. Our collective system of National Forests, National Parks, National Conservation Lands, National Wildlife Refuges, and similarly related lands encompass an extraordinary collection of national treasures. All of these publicly owned regions, are open and available to the American people for exploration, recreation, education, and more.

Public lands outside of designated wildernesses allow even further recreational opportunities including mechanized travel: ATV’s, motor-boats, mountain bikes, and the related lot.

ECONOMIC VALUES

The outdoor recreation economy is a multi-billion-dollar industry. In 2019, outdoor recreation produced over 7 million direct jobs in the United States.

Local municipalities adjacent to public lands are major benefactors to the outdoor recreation economy, generating jobs and economic prosperity for communities across the west.

Public lands also provide other economic benefits through exploitation of our natural resources, like timber, fossil fuels, minerals, and renewable energy (solar, wind, and geothermal).

SCENIC VALUES

Private land can be developed, modified, and/or altered based on the preferences of the landowner.

In contrast, public land is owned by everyone, resulting in important limits on the potential for many types of modern developments and large scale alterations to the land itself. For the most part, industrial and residential development results in an obvious degradation to the inherent scenic qualities of any natural landscape.

Public lands protect nature’s beauty, maintaining spectacular scenery for everyone to enjoy.

SOCIAL VALUES

Opportunities to engage in numerous socially beneficial activities are available to the American people through the continued maintenance of public land ownership in the United States.

Team building, character building, increased self-esteem, increased self-efficacy, increased mental fitness, increased physical fitness… All valuable social benefits which can be developed and enhanced during recreational activities on public lands. Organizations like Outward Bound offer group courses and adventures on public lands which exist to develop and enhance our individual and social values.

Public lands provide us an opportunity to learn more about the secrets to finding a successful coexistence with our fellow humans, and with nature.

CULTURAL VALUES

Wilderness is a defining component of our national heritage and history in the United States. Maintaining opportunities to connect with our shared natural heritage protects cultural values for the American People.

We also have to reckon with the fact that the cultures, values, and spiritualities of indigenous peoples are inextricably tied to the land itself.

Consider that indigenous populations have been widely dispossessed from their ancestral lands. Maintaining opportunities to visit places they’ve considered sacred for millenia remains possible in the western states largely because large tracts of land have never been held in private ownership. A great deal of indigenous peoples consider maintaining access to their ancestral lands an essential component of their spiritual well-beings.

SPIRITUAL VALUES

Public lands are places of worship, with wild ecosystems providing the necessary context and setting for spiritual, religious, and/or mystical experiences. Undeveloped and undisturbed wild landscapes where nature’s beauty remains protected and preserved.

Some go so far as to claim that the continued preservation of wilderness like regions, protected from the exploits of modern human technologies and developments… As the best way humanity can conserve some of the original works and creations of god. This viewpoint considers private exploitation and ecological disruption of any wild ecosystems still remaining within the modern landscape today, as being tantamount to destroying the original works of our god and creator.

Through our shared inheritance of public land ownership in the United States, we’ve all essentially been given the opportunity to go and find our own semblance of moral regeneration, meaning, unity, oneness with the universe, spiritual revival, inspiration, wonder, awe, excitement, and/or a profound sense of harmony with all creation. All insights gained under these circumstances can be considered religious or spiritual in nature.

HEALTH VALUES

Recreational activities made possible by public land ownership maintain potential to enhance our physical and mental well-being.

Public lands might be the single most extraordinary arena available for someone seeking to challenge their physical and mental aptitude, test stamina, develop endurance, and/or captivate their inner spirit of adventure. Undertakings like mountaineering, backpacking, cross country skiing, trail running, and horse packing, are all made possible by public land ownership in the United States.

Having new and profound experiences in natural like settings, is also a form of mental therapy, and maintains an incredible capacity to help treat psychologically disturbed individuals.

ETHICAL VALUES

Wild animals have the same essential needs that we have. They must find healthy food, adequete shelter, and safe spaces to rear their young. Fundamentally, wild beasts require the continued preservation of wild habitat for them to live amongst.

Hypothetically, would it be ethical for humanity to use 100% of the available land space on earth, exclusively for the use and advancement of anthropocentric ideas and commerce? Likewise, would it be ethical to leave 0% of the available land mass on earth to wildlife, as to let them continue life unimpeded as untamed and wild beasts?

Does humanity have an ethical obligation to preserve the habitats, lives, and processes of other species in which we share the greater biosphere on earth? The supposition that wildlife also maintains a right to life, habitat, and room to live and breath on the same planet we all share together, is an ethical value of public lands ownership.

INTRINSIC VALUES

Intrinsic values are those which are independent of human needs or uses. The values beyond the scope of how the land can benefit humanity.

Nature’s beauty and complexity are far beyond the capacity of humanity to recreate using technological innovation. We can study the complexities of the natural world with the scientific method… However, we’re fully unable to manufacture the beauty and complexity inherent to the natural world, ourselves.

We study DNA… We study ecosystems… We study all kinds of things… However, we’re simply unable to manufacture these complexities ourselves. Complexities so vast they’re well beyond the scope of our human comprehension, although science can help us understand better.

Therefore, it could be wise to protect the complexities inherent to nature… Just because… Without consideration to the benefit this may provide to us, as humans. The maintenance of this value is beyond our comprehension to fully understand.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments