In Zinke’s America, Corporations Win, People Lose — by Angel Pena
The Trump Administration’s continued attacks on our public lands are an attack on the American way of life—an attack on our shared heritage, our traditions and our values.
On Oct. 24, 2017, the National Park Service (NPS), under the direction of Interior Secretary Zinke, announced another proposed sucker punch to public-land users. NPS officials said they are currently considering a drastic increase to park entrance fees to more than a dozen of our nation’s most visited public-land units. In some cases, families would be asked to pay $70 per single vehicle, a more than 50 percent increase for families to visit the parks they already pay to maintain.
The fee increase may not affect affluent Americans who drop $500 per night to stay at luxury resorts. Instead, it affects Americans like me and my family. As a first-generation American seeking a better life for myself and my family, and as a proud father of two daughters, I know firsthand how entrance fees can present an often insurmountable barrier to outdoor recreation.
In Zinke’s America, corporations gain, low-income and middle-class taxpayers bear the burden, and our public lands become usable only by the affluent. Zinke’s “vision” robs our sons, daughters, nephews, nieces and our youth, many of whom will no longer have the opportunity—the American tradition—to experience the grandness of the Grand Canyon, reliable Old Faithful or the dramatic desert landscape carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers at Canyonlands National Park.
We should all raise our voices to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Angel Pena is the Rio Bravo Regional Director for Conservation Lands Foundation