Mr. Wilson’s proposal has not been mentioned during public debate among policymakers in the United States. Instead, a great fog machine has been set to work in the West, where the federal share of land ownership is close to 50 percent and vested interests itch to develop federal land at the lowest possible cost for the maximum possible return to the shareholder. Just when we need to learn how to restore natural capacity, not just in the West but the East, North and South, we see instead an attack on the existing protection for federal lands and hear a call for the sell-off of the land itself to individual states for eventual sale to private owners.
Not one of those who call for auctioning off our collective inheritance has in mind the purpose of conservation, regenerative grazing, organic agriculture or even the creation of more opportunities for nonmotorized recreation, which now generates more jobs and income than do traditional extractive industries. The fog machine, purporting to represent the rights of the individual versus the overly powerful state, conceals that the benefits will accrue to only a few, very few, individuals at the expense of us all and our future.
This is the time to safeguard our material and spiritual inheritance. We need not sell off what we have, but rather preserve more of nature in more parts of our country so that we may also restore and revive the health of our human communities and the planet as a whole.
Vincent Stanley, coauthor with Yvon Chouinard of The Responsible Company, has been with Patagonia on and off since its beginning in 1973, for many of those years in key executive roles as head of sales or marketing. He currently serves as the company’s director of philosophy and is a visiting fellow at the Yale School of Management.