Dean M. Chriss

America's 2020 Election
Will the Destroyers Win Again?
September 18, 2020

Grizzly Bear Cub
Grizzly Bear Cub, Tongass National Forest

In the 1960s and 1970s, when conservation was a conservative value, the GOP gave us the Endangered Species Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Clean Air Act, EPA, and National Environmental Policy Act. Then came a complete reversal. Since the middle 1990s the same group has made it a goal to rip apart nature, the environment, and every law protecting them. The last 4 years of ruthless and unprecedented destruction show plainly that the GOP has devolved into a group of extremists eager to destroy America's natural heritage for profit. In fact they are proud of it and have stopped pretending to care about any kind of preservation. These have certainly been the most destructive years of my lifetime, and I am not young.

As a direct result of the 2016 election America is losing:

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States. It was the last and only five percent of America’s arctic that was off limits to oil companies due to its fragile environment. There is no other place like it. I’d love to see it but now there is no point.

Over 2 million acres from Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monuments. The area is 2.6 times the size of Rhode Island and larger than Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Glacier, Mount Rainier, and Rocky Mountain National Parks combined. It was the last and most pristine place of its kind in America. My wife and I are very familiar with this area and we are deeply saddened by its destruction.

The 16.7 million acre Tongass National Forest. This old growth forest was previously off limits to road building and logging. It takes 500 years for a forest to develop old growth characteristics and support the same plant, wildlife, and insect species. Less than 4% of America’s old growth forest remains, there isn’t any more, the Tongass Forest is most of what is left. I made several trips there in the late 1990s to photograph glaciers, grizzlies, and the forest. The thought this unique place being ruined is unimaginable.

Countless other losses have occurred in the last four years, but just these three examples account for most of the best wilderness remaining in America. Whatever else it may be, this election is a choice between preserving our remaining scraps of nature and complete abandonment of hope that anyone in the future might have the experiences that enriched my life so much. I'd hate to be a young person in such a depleted country.

The current administration is the worst thing that has happened to America's wilderness in generations. Voting them out of office can help America's environment more than anything else you could possibly do.