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Without Public Lands, 'The West' As We Know It Today Would Not Exist

Every third week of September, National Public Lands Day arrives. A few reflections on why it matters to you

Mountain Journal 

Photo above: bison in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley (photo by Jacob W. Frank/NPS). On National Public Lands Day, take a few minutes to consider this. 

Without federal public lands, there would be: 

No Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks 

No "Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem" 

No National Park Service and its 423 individual parks, cultural and historic areas 

No healthy, migratory public wildlife populations that transcend boundaries No ready, free public access to public lands for hunting and fishing 

No BLM and Forest Service on which millions of private livestock graze and important to keep mom and pop ranchers viable 

No environmental laws that guarantee citizens a strong voice in public land management No reliable eco-tourism or outdoor recreation economies as we know them today 

No promise that citizens in the future will have at least some notion of all of the above No notion of “the American West” or of wildness as it currently exists in our imagination and thinking about what is still possible
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