Celebrate the Fourth of July with Public Land

Ah, the Fourth of July. It’s the best holiday. The greatest. Huge. The best. It’s the best day to cram those pasty netherregions into this year’s latest swim fashion and bide our time until our thighs get all sweaty and stick together. It’s the best time to test the logical extreme of a sunburn. And the best day to burn boat gas by the barrel, to endanger the lives of friends, loved ones, and unsuspecting strangers with over the counter bombs, and to torment our pets just for the hell of it

Because this is more than “just a Tuesday day-drunk.” Today, when we slather that fourth ballpark frank with cream cheese and wash it down with a Bud Light Lime, it’s a celebration. A celebration of American ingenuity, and of forward thinking founders. A celebration of the up-by-your-bootstraps scrappiness that’s so well represented in our legislature. It’s a celebration of mankind’s greatest infrastructure project: The God Damn Constitution.

And we earned it. We deserve it. If simply being an American isn’t reason enough to throw a party, why did three million bad hombres sneak over the border just to vote? See? You can’t answer that.

Like any red blooded American, I’m going to be right there with you tomorrow. Hamming it up, brandishing a flag, dropping superlatives like the People’s Elbow. It’s going to be the best 4th of July ever. The best. But before we go down that rabbithole, I’m probably going to go for a bike ride, and I hope that you do too.

#keepitpublic. or at least #keepitoninstagram

Or you can go rock climbing or something. Or float down a river. Or walk to that park near your house and see what the weirdos are up to. Because any celebration of what makes this place (still) great would be incomplete without a nod to public land.

It’s easy to take for granted that we each own 640 million acres of public land. That’s an inconceivably large number, and most of it isn’t anywhere near your house. But it’s a representation of our strongest claim to greatness*. It’s a real manifestation of the idea that we’re in this together, and working to leave something better behind. And it’s more endangered than Grizzly Bears.

It bears repeating that the Republican platform explicitly calls for the de-federalization of our shared public land, and to charge states with the herculeian task of managing it. Our congress has made a game of eviscerating Federal land management budgets to ensure that those agencies cannot succeed – and that was before President Trump’s budget proposal futher reduces the USFS trail maintenace budget from $77 million to $12 million.

In the age of beetle kill and wild weather, only a couple years of deferred maintenance can wipe a trail from the map. These budgets are a recipe to disenfranchise the public from our land through strategic neglect.

So on the 4th of July this year I’m going for a bike ride. Who knows how long that trail will be around.

 

*it’s sure as shit not healthcare or education

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