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home : most recent : statewide implications August 16, 2017

5/14/2017 11:42:00 AM
EDITORIAL: Time for a bipartisan chorus in opposition

Vincennes Sun-Commercial

We don't know whether organizers were disappointed in the turnout for Saturday's (May 6, 2017) program at the Knox County Court House.

There's been all this rain of late, and Saturday turned out to be about the best day we've had, so we can understand why many who might otherwise have attended chose some other activities than being cooped up in a courtroom, even one as attractive as Circuit Court.

At least we hope it was the weather and not a lack of interest in the subject matter.

These are uncertain days for those who care about the preservation of the past and the conservation of the present, who concern themselves with seeing that history and nature have a chance to last.

The president, who seems to have as tenuous a grasp of history as he does of grammar, has ordered a review of a number of national monuments that his most-recent predecessors brought under federal protection through the Act for the Preservation of Antiquities of 1906 and its successor, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.

The Antiquities Act set aside “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” to prevent their destruction, and President Theodore Roosevelt immediately began applying it with a pent-up vengeance.

His successors, both Democrat and Republican, some admittedly more vigorously than others, all followed TR's lead in protecting not just wilderness spaces but historical places, in guaranteeing a legacy of preservation and conservation for the generations to come.

Mr. Trump, however, sees these laws as encroaching on the rights of individuals, and he wants to “free” these protected lands for development — or, more accurately, for exploitation.

Mostly, though, Mr. Trump seems determined to erase any mark left by his immediate predecessor, regardless of what impacts such spiteful pettiness might have.

But we're less concerned about the president and his foibles.

What we're more worried about is preservation and conservation falling victims to partisan politics.

The great successes the nation has had preserving the past and conserving the natural world have cut across party lines and philosophical leanings — they have attracted perhaps the strangest bedfellows who nonetheless shared a love for their country, its past and its present, and a hope to pass their love on to future generations.

Or to at least give future generations, in their own time, the opportunity to fall in love with the country's history and its natural resources.

The voices we've heard in protest of the president's order to review currently-protected sites are what we'd call the usual suspects, in their way as much special-interest groups as those that advocate for the opening of these lands for development.

Who we're not hearing from, and who we know exist, are Republicans and conservatives who are equally dedicated to preservation of the past and conservation of the present, who are card-carrying members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Nature Conservancy but who, for whatever reason, are silent on this issue.

Theirs are the voices we need to hear, just as we need to hear from local residents, especially those who voted for Mr. Trump and who care about preservation and conservation — who want to protect the beauty of the Knox County Court House, the wonder of Ouabache Trails Park.

Preservation and conservation on the local level loses its steam if we begin rolling back protections on the federal level.

It's time for a bipartisan chorus in opposition to the president on this issue.

Copyright 2017 Vincennes Sun Commercial

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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