America awoke today to the promise of a new political reality, one based not in divisiveness but in unity.
President-elect Obama has said he will listen to the people. As people who work to protect the 628 million acres of parks, forests and other public lands that we own together as Americans, nothing could be more important. Our great American landscapes are a fitting symbol of both our diversity and our unity. They are a great gift that we all — Americans of every culture, race, geography, age and belief — are given at birth. And today, with the stewardship of these lands passing to a new President, we must rededicate ourselves to working to protect these lands — together.
This election happened just in time. Big challenges lie ahead: What is the right way to address global warming and our country’s energy needs without sacrificing the healthy, intact ecosystems so important for plants, wildlife and human health? How can we guarantee wise stewardship from the agencies charged with managing the public lands on our behalf? And how do we ensure that wilderness is protected for future generations?
The public lands are at the intersection of the issues of the day: The economy, health and energy. The Wilderness Society looks forward to working side-by-side with citizens, partners, elected officials and the Obama Administration to address tough questions. The Wilderness Society and its more than 350,000 members and supporters have always been staunch watchdogs for our wildest public lands. We are hopeful that we now have more, and stronger, partners in this effort at all levels, across the country.
A Kenyan proverb put it this way: “Treat the world well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was lent to you by your children.” Our nation’s forests, rivers, mountains and deserts are a living symbol of the “one nation” that voters embraced yesterday. As we are united in hope for a new Congress and the Obama Administration, so should we be united as a nation in our commitment to protect our shared, rare resource of healthy, wild national lands.
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