Americans who still have jobs work hard and work long hours. Their vacation time can be measured in rare long weekends or maybe a full week with no respite for another year. Some of us save up for years just to take our kids, at least once, to experience what we collectively share as a nation.
Tourists coming in from Europe and other continents spend time and money in something that does not exist where they come from. It should be a source of pride and joy in our collective hearts that other people want to come here and visit our National Treasures: Our National parks.
The Grand Canyon is visited by millions of people every year. It earns Arizona millions of dollars in gas revenues, hotels, RV parking, fast food, restaurants and supermarket sales. It has created over 6,000 jobs and brought millions of dollars to the economy.
The revenue is not confined to Arizona, it extends across the states that provide lodging, food, gas and souvenirs to visitors along the way. Europeans rent RVs online, Google their itinerary and pack as many miles as they can into their four-week vacations. Yes, 4 weeks.
We recently spent a few days at Lake Chabot Regional Park where we met British and German families packed in those Rent America RV's so familiar around National Parks. The German family was on their way to the San Francisco airport the next day after having been to Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon and Yosemite among a whole bunch of other places I could not keep track of.
Rarely has there been a time when we have visited the Grand Canyon or Yosemite that we did not end up at lesser known regional parks to rest up for a couple of days and be one of the few Americans in a sold-out location.
Enter the GOP who is not satisfied with the revenue generated by gently using and protecting our National Treasures, they want to mine the *%&%$ out of it on behalf of their corporate masters. They have attached riders to appropriation bills that will allow them to start mining well ahead of the moratorium achieved by Ken Salazar, our Secretary of the Interior.
Frankly, six months is not enough time to even bring this subject to the public consciousness and explain how the mining would impact our immediate environment and the pristine parks we all have a right to enjoy. But then again, maybe, just maybe, that is the actual plan. Without having enough time to digest what is planned, the dirty deed can be done and there is no turning back.
So what if Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, had declared a moratorium on mining? So what if the public is not interested in fouling the Colorado's drinking water that makes its way to the Hoover Dam and provides safe drinking water to over 25 million Americans? So what if uranium mining pollutes our drinking water? Why should they care?
These people don't stick around to see what happens once their job is done. Don't believe me? Ask yourself how close to the Florida Coast is the residence of British Petroleum (BP) executives. The damage is done and they are long gone.
Ask yourself how close to Alaska is anyone associated with the-now-infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill? - The facts after the Valdez spill, years later.
What about the spill at Yosemite National Park? - Also courtesy of Exxon - Update from the EPA on Yosemite
The fact is, that there are around 10,000 claims to mine in the surrounding Grand Canyon area and those claims WILL be honored, what we are discussing here is new claims that have no business being allowed without scrutiny and assessing environmental impacts.
This is what the GOP does not want; A bunch of tree-hugging-liberal-hippies who think clean water and fresh air are more important that corporate profits.
We call them National Treasures for a reason: These parks are in OUR nation, they belong to all of us regardless of state lines, and they are meant to be passed on in pristine conditions to future generations just like they were passed on to us.
We may not be the wealthiest of people who can leave our kids and grand-kids billions of dollars, but we certainly can leave them unspoiled beauty, trees for oxygen and fresh water to drink. We are not asking for much, but we are expected to give up everything for the mighty dollar.
The answer is NO! we won't.
Contact your representatives and support Ken Salazar, call his office and find out how you can help stop this runaway Congress from destroying everything worth saving. The current Debt-Ceiling drama is meant to hide a variety of ugly sins they don't want us to know about.
This is one of them. We need to keep our eyes open for more because as long as the news is dominated by Boehner, Cantor and the Tea Party having tantrums, these "little" appropriations are not being scrutinized, and this is unacceptable.
Images: By Tobias Alt CC BY-SA 3.0; By User:Dschwen CC BY-SA 3.0