What’s Wrong with Privatizing Public Lands

Mrill Ingram in The Progressive:

In his new book, In Defense of Public Lands: The Case against Privatization and Transfer (Temple University Press), Steven Davis, political science professor at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, takes on the “privatizers.” His book is an even-handed and thorough look at public lands in the United States. Although public support for wilderness, national parks, and other public lands is high, Davis is rightly concerned that these open spaces—from national parks like Yosemite to county-owned lands—face serious threats.

The sentiments that led to the Sagebrush Rebellion and Wise Use Movement are not in the past, Davis tells us. In his first chapter, “Public Land and its Discontents,” Davis details how, since the gains of the Tea Party in 2010, those against public lands have the support of a large number of office-holders in state and federal legislatures. “What was previously seen as the intemperate agitation of fringe activists is now the standard stuff of political platforms, floor debates, and campaign speeches,” he writes.

The Republican Party’s 2012 platform, for example, stated, “Congress should reconsider whether . . . federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership.”

More here.