On Dec. 13, the Bureau of Land Management plans to auction off plots of public land in Wayne National Forest so oil and gas companies can frack. This decision is certainly controversial because of the ties to hydraulic fracturing, but it should be of concern to both Ohio and U.S. residents that their protected lands are being used for profit. The Bureau and Forestry services have cited that any controversy caused by this decision is expected to be minimal, but a 90,000 signature petition says otherwise.
We know the value of the natural world, though maybe this is hard to admit or realize. I myself have found it difficult to voice my love of public lands when I know accusations of being a bleeding heart liberal or tree hugging hippie loom at the conclusion of my confessions. I would say many never realize their inherent love of the earth and that nature is some essential piece of every person.
For instance, imagine an office worker at their 9-5 job. They stare at pictures of the Grand Canyon and the forests of Yellowstone hung beneath a harsh fluorescent glare. How this worker yearns to have just a week to get away from their daily grind. How they wish to travel to those distant (or not so distant) worlds that they only know as an office beautification attempt. There is a desire for nature, even though it may be hard to see in the immediate industrial grays and browns of civilization. If this was not true, then Central Park would have been bulldozed into high rise apartment complexes by now.
Nowhere in the images of canyons, forests and mountains are the scars of industry. Oil towers rocketing out of the earth and bald faces of a hillside shredded by logging are all absent when we treat nature how nature ought to be treated: wild. Wayne National Forest is at risk of this maltreatment. The Bureau of Land Management plans to let human greed into the earth in a never-ending search for profit. I say that all they will find is regret — maybe not this year, or in ten years, but sometime in the future when we cannot undo our choices.
It is puzzling that a government organization with a crest that contains a pristine countryside is allowing a real example of one to be put in jeopardy. That crest is an approaching eulogy with our current environmental practices. If nothing is done to protect Wayne, then I expect this short collection of words will become its memoir.
If I have not been able to show the value of the natural world, maybe the words of writer Edward Abbey could accomplish this. In his book, Desert Solitaire, he writes “Wilderness. The word itself is music. Wilderness, wilderness […] We scarcely know what we meant by the term, though the sound of it draws all whose nerves and emotions have not yet been irreparably stunned, deadened, numbed by the caterwauling of commerce, the sweating scramble for profit and domination.”
Keep Wayne pristine, fight to stop the use of public lands for industrial profit and preserve the world in the best way: wild, untamed and free.
Alex Moore, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at AMoore18@wooster.edu.