Not to boast, but that image is me enjoying a pristine alpine lake I own in the California Sierras. It’s property so valuable that Bill Gates could never buy it. Yet it’s mine.
But wait! Don’t stalk off — it’s also yours! It’s part of America’s extraordinary, but now threatened, heritage of public lands. These lands are being starved of funds to sustain them and are the target of an ideological battle, with the new Republican Party platform arguing that certain federal lands should be handed over to the states. Which lands aren’t specified.
This objective is sad, because America was the first country in the world to take its most stunning scenic places and turn them into a shared space belonging to all — an element of what Wallace Stegner called America’s “best idea.”
It was 100 years ago, in August 1916, that the United States established the National Park Service, after earlier moving to protect lands like Yellowstone and Yosemite. As a result, our nation’s most valuable assets are owned not by private equity tycoons but by you and me.