Re: Open Statement to the Trump Administration

Date: August 16, 2018

At the Geos Institute, we take seriously the statements made by Secretary Ryan Zinke that Americans concerned about timber harvesting on public lands are “environmental terrorists.”

Like so many of our fellow Americans, we explore, fish, hike, recreate, and enjoy our public lands. We are parents, homeowners, scientists, and everyday people working to advance social and ecological causes using the public processes our democracy was founded upon.

People advocating on behalf of the environment have cleaned up our air and water and prevented irreparable harm to ecosystems across our nation. Public lands are a key part of our children’s inheritance and we are proud to defend them against ill-conceived management and resource extraction.

We do not employ violence or the threat of violence in our efforts to protect the public lands that provide essential services to our communities. We deplore the use of violence because it is immoral to harm, or threaten to harm, others in the course of advocating for a particular action.

Unfounded verbal attacks like those from the Trump Administration violate the fundamental basis of our democracy – the idea that we can passionately debate issues in the public sphere freely without fear of harm. They impede our ability to work proactively in our communities on fire preparation – the very activities that protect homes, lives, and livelihoods.

The comments made by Secretary Zinke create a wedge where there is no need to have one and put Americans at risk of violence and misdirected retaliatory actions. Addressing climate change and its effects on wildfires is a complex endeavor, one that requires people with level heads to work together. Rhetoric like this gets in the way of real solutions and moves us backward. We expect and deserve better from our leaders.

As always, we stand ready to work with the Administration on proactive community protection from wildfires and we ask that administration officials refrain from statements that could lead to violence in our communities.

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