September – October 2017 – by Dick Beck, Chair
Ralph Regula died recently, not long after Betty Seiberling, John Seiberling’s widow. Our local newspapers noted that Representatives Regula and Seiberling were both proud of their roles in creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and extending the towpath trail.
That’s important to note now, because these men represented different political parties. Since they left office, the US Congress has been increasingly filled with leaders who think it is important NOT to work with, or compromise with folks “across the aisle.” The latest gerrymandering (nationwide, but definitely in Ohio) has made politicians more worried about challenges from the Republican so-called “conservative” side and from the Democratic so-called “liberal” side.
So now, no Republican who wishes to be re-elected would think of supporting any government legislation to create a new public park. Very near my house, the costs and joys of maintaining Quail Hollow State Park have quietly been passed to Stark County. I assume that has been done with other state-owned lands, and I assume that has happened because our newest state leaders give top priority to lowering taxes, and passing on costs to local folk. That has caused budget crises . . . and parks now have lower priority in our state. I’m pleased that Stark County has passed tax levies that allow us to keep Quail Hollow Park in good shape. But I imagine that in time, if philosophies don’t change, other government-owned parks will be abandoned or sold off to “the private sector.” To be sarcastic, the current politically correct idea is that Niagara Falls is much better than Yellowstone.
Right now, our leaders are seeking to replace taxes by drilling for oil and gas in government-owned forests. Our new federal administration is trying to sell off national monuments, including the new Bears Ears in Utah.
We in the Sierra Club, which seeks to “enjoy, explore and protect the earth,” are opposing new drilling, opposing new high-pressure pipelines to transport oil and gas, and opposing the sale of public lands. I’m sure many of you have been calling and emailing your opinions. If you’d like to be on “rapid response teams” to make such contacts, our Ohio Chapter leaders will be happy to take your name and email address. Personally, I’m getting tired of “opposing.” Thinking of John Seiberling and Ralph Regula, I long for times when leaders from all political sides will be able to “cross the aisle” and support activities that will make and keep some lands available for people of all income levels. I trust such times will come again, with work and talk from you and me. May we “enjoy, explore and protect the earth.”