History shows that conservation is conservative

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Sasha Nelson

Moffat County Commissioners this week indicated a willingness to consider wilderness designation to permanently protect land in Moffat County. Should the county move forward, they would be following in the footsteps of past leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was the congressman called “Mr. Conservative,” John Saylor, who was instrumental in the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. Conserving our public lands is conservative.

Also, this week the City of Craig considered a proposal for the installation of solar panels to provide Yampa Valley Electric Association consumers a locally produced, renewable energy choice. In so doing, our community would follow the example of President George W. Bush who is using renewable energy on his ranch and the U.S. Military, which is the largest consumer and developer of renewable energy. The lease proposed for the community solar garden would provide either revenue or energy discounts to the city. Diversifying energy sources by adding renewable energy is conservative.

Most of the foundational conservation legislation in our country came about under President Nixon, a Republican. Under President Nixon the nation passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environment Policy Act, the Environmental Pesticide Control Act and the Endangered Species Act leading to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. Protecting our environment through federal action is conservative.

Thinking back, I recall the first time former Moffat County High School teacher Jill Grimes complimented me for being a conservationist. My knee-jerk reaction was to vehemently deny it. It turns out I was a conservationist, and I proudly own that title today. I am a moderate who enjoys fishing, hunting, roaming across our plentiful public lands. I leave no trace and reduce, reuse and recycle. I do this for reasons both practical and ethical, not political.

Today, as a field organizer for Conservation Colorado, I work collaboratively with people of all political persuasions to advocate on behalf of Colorado’s clean air, water, public lands and wildlife. It still feels right to tread carefully, to leave things better than they were and to be a good steward of the earth. It turns out this means I am both a conservative and conservationist and that is, in part, because conservation is conservative.

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