By MICHAEL JARNEVIC
“What greater grief than the loss of one’s native land.”
While shivering in a foxhole in western Kuwait; working in some very dangerous areas in Mali and Nigeria; or riding through IED country in Afghanistan, I was fortified by the thought that I would someday return home to my precious Montana and those wild and miraculous places it contains. Yet, that sustenance provided by our hallowed wildlands, which allowed me to endure austere conditions and combat adversity, is under a monstrous attack by the very people tasked with protecting those places.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s proposals to shrivel multiple national monuments is nothing more than caving to the nefarious interests of the extractive resource industry — an industry that has been a consistent foe of wildlife and wildlands. Teddy Roosevelt, our towering icon of conservation, responded characteristically to the unbridled exploitation of our natural resources (by robber barons) with the institution of his “Square Deal,” that consisted of three parts: conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection.
Thus, in 1906, Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act to protect those lands deemed priceless and unique, represented most recently by the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. Teddy famously said: “The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”
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Michael Jarnevic is a retired U.S, Army sergeant major with 42 years of service in both the USMC (active and reserve) and Army Special Forces (active, guard, and reserve). He is a University of Montana graduate and former instructor, now writing from his home outside of Missoula.