Conservatives have a proud environmental heritage from their “roots as Westerners,” and their policies help the environment more than mass federal land ownership. That’s according to former GOP Colorado Congressman and rancher Bob Beauprez.
“Anyone who’s ever been a farmer or a rancher or had a relative who is, understands that those people feel an attachment to the land,” said Beauprez while filming Nevada Politics Today on Wednesday. “It’s not just about a paycheck or a spot moment in time. You want to sustain, yes your life, but there’s usually a plan to pass it to ther next generation — your sons your daughters, your heirs. It becomes extremely precious. For people to suggest that people from those roots — and they are by-and-large conservative people — somehow don’t value the environment, it’s more than insulting.”
Private ownership of land actually improves the land’s condition, according to Beauprez.
“What we like to see is those public lands cared for and managed like a good steward would,” he said. “Just owning it [like the federal government] doesn’t mean you’re caring for it, that you’re protecting the plant life, the water, the wildlife, the land itself. That takes more in this arid West than just ownership.
“[A rancher told me,] ‘If you looked at what we maintained as our family ranch, the care we took for it. The way we take care of the grasses, the plant life, the livestock and compare that to leaving it alone like the federal government, there is no comparison.’”
Beauprez then detailed some of the ways that private owners improve the land.
“You plant drought resistance grasses, for one example,” he said. “That will hold the soil in place, allow that soil not just to stay in place and not erode — either from wind or water — but to actually regenerate nutrients from that decomposing plant life that you’ve restored. We’re especially careful with water.”
There’s not a trade-off between obtaining natural resources that are on or under the land either, Beauprez maintains.
“We’ve never been able to harvest natural resources safer, more efficiently, more effectively than we do right now,” he said. “Yet there’s a movement to try and suggest somehow that we are destroying things. We are not.”
Ultimately, keeping land under federal lock and key denies access for those who are supposed to own the land — the public.
“That doesn’t allow the taxpayer, the person who is ultimately responsible for it, to even enjoy access to that land whether it’s for biking, hiking, hunting, fishing,” said Beauprez.
Beauprez also works with the conservative environmental group, The Western Way, which has just started a Nevada chapter.