Public Trust

The Plot:

Public lands are lands protected by the government for use by all citizens. Some of these lands are National Parks such as Monument Valley National Park, Glacier Bay National Park and Yosemite National Park to name a few. However, most public lands are not National Parks, they are lands on which the government allows ranchers to graze their animals and run their herds in exchange for their monitoring of the land and waters – a very cheap price to pay. Public lands are unique to the United States, making these lands even more precious to its people.

Journalist Hal Herring is one of many environmentalists who are committed to bringing both awareness and truth to a battle that has been raging for many decades.

Our public lands hold many resources; oil, coal, ores and even Uranium that industry covets. It’s this ongoing battle between business and environmentalists that will help define our relationship with the environment and its future.

Kent’s Take:

“Public Trust” is a documentary that outlines a public problem with public lands defining it as a national problem along political party lines.

Director David Byars creates a narrative that calls viewers to action by defining a larger problem using multiple smaller battles as examples. From the struggles of Minnesota’s Boundry Waters region, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and the Gwich’In people who live off the land in this area, to the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah – a place with thousands of Native American archaeological sites – we discover that there are important regions at stake throughout the country.

As Republican administrations push toward domestic energy policies to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, they continue to place pristine ecosystems at risk with mining and drilling.

This documentary is an important story for all of us. Our National Parks may be at risk if greedy industrialists continue to seek resources over ecosystems.

The film attempts to balance this story, but fails when it is mainly Republicans who are deregulating the oil and mining industries, allowing them greater reign over public lands.

Using breathtaking scenery of endangered places sounds the alarm for action to protect these irreplaceable regions.

We have always been reckless with the environment, but as we learn more and more about our ecosystems and the delicate balances by which they exist, we must realize that the waste, the chemicals and the scars left behind by industry are often irreversible.

The newest method of privatizing public land is to transfer the land to the individual states who do not have the budgets to maintain the property, thus forcing them to immediately auction the land to those who can afford it – oil and gas companies.

“Public Trust” sheds a light upon the maneuvering of wealthy investors and companies to seize public lands and privatize areas that were meant to be used and enjoyed by every American. As the song states, “This land is your land, this land is my land . . .” and we must move now in order to keep it that way. The father of environmentalist Spencer Shaver hit the nail on the head when he says, “I’ve always been pro-mining, but I’m not for mining everywhere . . .” That statement may be the doorway toward a compromise that could both offer us cheaper energy and still save the beauty of our country’s public lands, but politicians must listen and understand that there are some areas that must be protected.