Thursday, July 24, 2008

BEN Special Passages - July 21, 2008

As a result of rising gas prices, and difficult economic times, we are hearing day after day the constant drumbeat to open up our public lands, shores and wildernesses to all forms of natural resource extraction.

Below is a compilation of "special passages" that I hope will inspire you and remind us all, why we must protect and preserve our national treasures and natural heritage. 

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington

Publisher BEN


….the glory of the United States must rest and has rested upon a firmer foundation than that of her purely material resources.  It is the love of country that has lighted and that keeps glowing the holy fire of patriotism.  And this love is excited, primarily, by the beauty of the country.  

– J. Horace McFarland, remarks before the White House Conference on Conservation and Natural Resources, 1908


There are always rival claims to every unexploited area, and even the parks cannot stand up against such claims unless the strength of their own claim is recognized.  Unless we think of intangible values as no less important than material resources, unless we are willing to say that man’s need of and right to what the parks and wildernesses provide are as fundamental as any of his material needs they are lost…..

The generations now living may very well be that which will make the irrevocable decision whether or not America will continue to be for centuries to come the one great nation which had the foresight to preserve an important part of its heritage.  If we do not preserve it, then we shall have diminished by just that much the unique privilege of being an American.  

-  Joseph Wood Krutch


Wilderness is an anchor to windward.  Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich Nation, tending to resources as we should - not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water."

Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico


His (President Theodore Roosevelt) methods were often unorthodox.  In 1908 a canny speculator (later a United States Senator) saw the tourism potential of Arizona's Grand Canyon, and sought to control access to it by preempting the awe-inspiring overlooks with a series of mining claims.  The move would have been entirely legal, as the Canyon was part of the public domain.  The problem was taken with alarm to the President.  His first impulse was to make the Canyon a national park, but there was not time to wait for an Act of Congress.  Two years earlier, however, Congress had passed the Antiquities Act, giving Presidents the power to create 'National Monuments" for the preservation of 'historic landmarks....and other objects of historic or scientific interest."

Although the Grand Canyon seemed scacrely to fit the description, the Attorney General told Roosevelt he could take a chance and make it a national monument.  TR signed a proclamation on the spot, and withdrew the canyon and its rims from mining entry.  Twelve years later (after Roosevelt's death) the United States Supreme Court, in a broad minded moment, did some conserving of its own and upheld the action, putting the indelible ink of authority into a pen that congressional committees had hardly intended to place in presidential hands. 

- From the book The Quiet Crisis and The Next Generation, author Stewart Udall


Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.  And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the other animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. 

– Wallace Stegner

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