‘Everything’s for sale’: the shocking film on the privatization of American public lands

The Guardian – By Ryan Krogh – Friday 25 September 2020

“Public Trust” highlights the 640m acres owned by the country’s citizenry, lands that some in the Republican party want to sell off.

Towards the middle of the new film Public Trust, about the continued push by zealous conservatives to privatize ownership of the United States’ federally-managed public lands, the stakes are laid bare: “If you don’t get engaged, you lose,” says Land Tawney, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “When you get complacent, things are done to you.”

Tawney is speaking of the 640m acres that are owned by the country’s citizenry. Few things in politics are as quintessentially American as the country’s vast system of public lands. No other nation on earth has this much property that belongs to its people and is intended to be management by the government for the benefit and uplift of all. Yet selling off those lands is still listed as a goal in the Republican party platform, and the Trump administration seems singularly focused on rolling back protections to usher in more drilling and mining.

Public Trust, executive produced by Robert Redford and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, is required viewing for anyone hoping to understand the public lands issue. Patagonia Films is releasing it online for free today, one day before National Public Lands Day.

The film is a mix of Planet Earth–worthy cinematography, old news clips, and on-the-ground interviews with dozens of experts, ranchers, and Native Americans. Mostly, though, it follows investigating reporter Hal Herring as he travels around the US to get a firsthand glimpse of some of the most imperiled public lands – the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and Bears Ears National Monument, in Utah, which President Trump reduced by 85% in 2017.

“We’ve arrived at a moment,” Herring says in the film, “where we are going to decide whether we’re going to keep the birthright and the legacy of our public lands [system] or whether we simply want to unleash the forces of industry and live in a world where everything is for sale.”

In other words, the November elections could determine the fate of many of the most iconic and cherished ecosystems in the US, from national forests to wildlife refuges.

“Public Trust” is released online on Friday at 5pm PT & 8pm ET.

Read entire article & see movie here

Video source: www.youtube.com

Posted by Teri Perticone

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