Spokane Rally Supports Public Lands
A rally to support public lands was held at the Federal Building in Spokane on Tuesday. Attendees spoke out against the occupation of the wildlife refuge in Oregon.
About 70 people assembled in Spokane to wave banners, sing, and speak out in favor of federal management of public lands.
Bruce Kessler was one who said he is against the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge by those who want to turn it back into grazing land for local cattlemen.
“I really do support public lands. I do a lot huntin’ and fishin’ on public land and a lot of recreatin’. And things like Malheur shouldn't be run by private groups.”
Mike Petersen of the Lands Council, cited the 49 Degrees North ski resort as a good example of public land that is open to public use. The resort owner leases the land from the Colville National Forest and employs about 100 people.
“There is more money generated from that ski area on a couple thousand acres than all the ranchers in the three counties north of here generate. That public land is important for recreation, jobs, and it’s important to keep public lands.”
Another speaker was Gloria Flora, a former National Forest Supervisor who resigned in 1999, to protest treatment of federal employees. She spoke of the increased trend of collaboration between public managers and forest users as a way to end the gridlock.
“There are 25 forest collaboratives in Oregon alone, including one in Harney county. Ranchers, conservationists, hunters, and foresters can and do work together for the collective good.”
Organizers said they would work on organizing group hikes and other activities to show support for a wide range of activities on public lands.