Why do we want to eat, have some kind of shelter, a piece of land, clothing and water? Why do we want to go hiking, fishing, boating or biking? Why do we want to work? You probably answered those pretty easily, but now think about these questions. Why do you want to prevent others from being able to secure a piece of land to build a house on to raise their family? Why do you want to prevent others from being able to secure wood to build their house from and to maybe heat it? Why do you want others to give up their use of water for you to use? Why do you think there should be laws to force others to do and act as you think they should?

By now you are wondering what this has to do with my usual comments on public lands and resources. Well, the first set of questions should be easy to answer since they fall under our unalienable, God-given rights as expressed in our Declaration of Independence as the Right to “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.”

The second set you probably take issue with, right? How can I suggest that you are guilty of thinking like that? Let me explain.

This country was founded on the principles of private land ownership to enable a man to be free to exercise his God-given liberty to live his life as he saw fit and to work to pursue his own happiness. The government was established to protect those rights and to keep each other from infringing on one another’s rights. That all worked well as new states were formed and the country grew, UNTIL the western states began to be formed.

Today, continued private ownership of land has been halted by people thinking, “I’ve got mine, you don’t need any!” Furthermore, “I want the rest of the land to be as I want it, and I want you to pay for it!” They will make sure that happens by passing laws to prevent the others from exercising their God-given rights.

The unconstitutional laws to restrict your rights began in the early 20th century, but really got moving in the ’60s and then went on rampage in the ’90s with passage of myriad laws and regulations that were proclaimed to protect the environment, especially on the public lands of the states that were then being declared as federal lands. The environmental corporations pushed for laws that curtailed and even stopped land and resource management and use, the very entities that provided work opportunity that developed wealth to enable the people to better manage and use the resources to provide for all to realize their God-given rights of life, liberty and to pursue happiness. Why did they do that? Apparently they were/are an unhappy bunch that don’t want to work as they “already have what they want,” BUT also want more of what they don’t want you to have, but for free. They sure don’t want anyone else to be happy in freedom and liberty, working and enjoying life?

To ensure their goal is not thwarted, laws were passed to ensure the public lands were securely locked up. Using differing names for the same thing has kept the public confused and unaware of the truth. The laws started off with National Parks, Monuments, Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness Areas, Roadless Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, National Conservation Areas, Wild & Scenic Rivers, Natural Study Areas, ACEC’s (Area of Critical Environmental Concern). I know there are more that I can’t think of. All of these areas have one thing in common, no beneficial uses or management of the land and resources such as in parks and wilderness, and severely limited in the other areas and your freedom and liberty to use all the areas is severely limited or restricted. Colorado is 36 percent federally controlled. Of these lands, the combined special designations that restrict economic use, management and public access comprise the majority of the public lands that we are told are so valuable they need to be protected. An item has no real value unless it is used to generate a value to the holder. If you were given a “ Strad” violin, but couldn’t play it, just keep it, what is the real value? Nothing, until you sell or exchange it for something you can use! What is the value of all the land and resources being locked up? Nothing! They are actually of negative value as they are naturally deteriorating via natural environmental processes and costing in the attempt to protect them from you and themselves.

Most are not aware of “The Wildlands Project” which began in 1991. It is a consortium of environmental corporations whose mission has been and is to “reconnect, restore and rewild North America so that life in all its diversity can thrive”. We are in dead center of this projects’ southern Rockies “Western Wildway”, a designated strip of land from Chihuahua, Mexico, up the Rocky Mountains to the Brooks Range in Alaska. The width varies, and here in Colorado it extends from the edge of the front range westward to the Nevada Border. The goal is to turn as much of the land back to their view of “wilderness” without man’s intervention. The implementation of all of the above land non-use designations has been the means so far, and including securing of private lands through the “Conservation Easement” purchases, using public funds. The Travel Management Plans of the Forest Service and BLM seek to eliminate or restrict many historical access roads, trails and uses, aiding to further the “project.” Currently they are working to have more ACEC lands designated (130,000 acres in SW Colorado), and approve an NCA on the lower Dolores River that will likely limit and may eventually remove historical uses, water rights, game fishery, and recreational development.

Why is the American Dream of Freedom to our God-given rights of Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness being systematically removed by the environmental corporations and our government is not protecting those rights as they are charged to do? Well, they have theirs, they get rich and they don’t want your grandchildren to have ANY!

Dexter Gill is a retired forest manager who worked for private industry, three Western state forestry agencies, and the Navajo Nation forestry department. He writes from Lewis, Colo.

From Dexter Gill.