Public Lands Preservation & Conservation
“We can enjoy the earth’s beauty and utilize its resources as necessary, but a good steward treats the land with care and leaves as minimal impact as possible.” — Elder Steven E. Snow
In the grand scheme of creation, we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold a profound understanding: every particle of our vast universe, every natural resource, every breath of life, has been gifted to us by God. Brigham Young echoed this perspective, noting, “Not one particle of all that comprises this vast creation of God is our own. Everything we have has been bestowed upon us for our action – to see what we would do with it – whether we would use it for eternal life and exaltation or for eternal death and degradation”. This insight emphasizes our divine mandate to safeguard these blessings responsibly, keeping in mind that our actions echo beyond our individual lives and shape future generations.
This spiritual stewardship involves keeping the commandments and utilizing the resources God has bestowed upon us—resources that are ‘enough and to spare’ (D&C 104:17) —if we manage them wisely. We are therefore not just passive recipients of these gifts, but active participants in their preservation, engaging with the world around us in a manner that is sustainable, respectful, and honoring of our divine mandate.
“It’s a paradox. Though early settlers may have been too busy surviving to enjoy the beauty of southern Utah, they preserved it. Though present residents were attracted there by that beauty, many of them are complicit in destroying it. Seriously threatened is the sense of stewardship for the land that was so important to its early settlers.” -Elder Steven E. Snow, The Moral Imperative of Environmental Stewardship
Our shared public lands are a testament to the Earth’s beauty, and Elder Steven E. Snow urges us to engage with these lands responsibly: “We can enjoy the earth’s beauty and utilize its resources as necessary, but a good steward treats the land with care and leaves as minimal impact as possible”. This teaching is a critical guide for our interactions with natural spaces—it promotes an ethos of minimal impact, of taking only memories and leaving only footprints, truly embodying the principle of stewardship.
The warning from President Ezra Taft Benson underscores the importance of our mission. He cautioned, “It is terribly important that we preserve and improve the great natural resources with which the God of heaven has so richly blessed us, so we do not follow the experience of some other nations that have come and gone because of the mismanagement of their natural and God-given resources.” This potent reminder underscores the profound responsibility we have, both as individuals and as a faith community, to not squander the divine gifts of nature. Rather, we should strive to ensure their preservation and improvement for generations to come, understanding that our very survival and the vitality of our communities are tied to these invaluable resources.
Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance Position
The Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance affirms its steadfast commitment to the preservation and conservation of our public lands, aligning with the teachings of our church leaders. We deeply value our pioneer heritage, which was forged in the lands that God provided for us as sanctuary from persecution and devastation. Today, we channel that spirit of stewardship to prevent similar destruction from encroaching on our treasured public lands.
In the context of climate change, public lands take on a critical role through helping to sequester carbon and store fossil fuels. This helps in mitigating the relentless pace of global warming, making the preservation of these lands an imperative for our planet’s future.
“It is terribly important that we preserve and improve the great natural resources with which the God of heaven has so richly blessed us, that we may not follow the experience of some other nations that have come and gone because of the mismanagement of their natural and God-given resources.” Ezra Taft Benson in Kindness to Animals and Caring For the Earth, compiled by Richard D. Stratton (Portland, OR: Inkwater Press, 2004), 19.
The significance of public lands extends beyond their geographical boundaries – They safeguard the myriad animal and plant species, which are divine creations deserving of protection. Moreover, these lands serve as critical corridors for wildlife, allowing creatures of all kinds to move freely, undisturbed by human activity.
Public lands, with their pristine beauty and abundant biodiversity, offer not just a chance for us to enjoy recreation, but also a connection to the divine creation. Therefore, we advocate strongly for the protection and respect of these invaluable lands. We believe it’s our sacred duty to ensure they continue to thrive and provide benefit and enjoyment for generations yet to come.
What Can You Do?
- Communicate with Representatives: Make your voice heard. Contact your local, state, and national representatives to express your support for public lands and related issues.
- Share the Experience: Encourage appreciation of these natural resources by inviting friends or family to visit public lands near you
- Local History Exploration: Dedicate time to research and learn about the history of the public lands in your vicinity. Understanding the past can give a deeper appreciation of these lands and motivate efforts to preserve them for future generations.
- Participate in Advocacy Groups: Join local advocacy groups focused on protecting public lands. These organizations offer opportunities for volunteer work and communal action.
- Connect with Local Agencies: Learn more about the organizations managing public lands in your area. They often have programs and initiatives that you can support or volunteer for.
- Lend a Hand: Volunteer your time with local public land management agencies. Their efforts towards preservation and maintenance can always use extra help.
- Madison Daniels | Stewardship and Wilderness Protection | MESA Podcast
- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:67
- Neal A. Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990), 103.
- Steven E. Snow, “The Moral Imperative of Environmental Stewardship”, 2018
- Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 645.
- Protecting Public Lands, National Wildlife Federation
- Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
- Grand Canyon Trust
- Public Lands Foundation