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PNS Daily Newscast - November 11, 2018. 


More than 12-hundred missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: a pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; plus concerns that proposed Green-Card rules favor the wealthy.

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Asking Presidential Candidates for Pledge to Protect Public Lands

Conservationists want the presidential candidates to pledge to keep public lands, including national forests, in public hands. (Samuel Taylor/BirthPlaceofRivers.com)
Conservationists want the presidential candidates to pledge to keep public lands, including national forests, in public hands. (Samuel Taylor/BirthPlaceofRivers.com)
September 9, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A long list of conservation groups is calling on the presidential candidates to pledge to keep public lands in public hands. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is spearheading sending a letter to each of the four candidates asking for their commitment.

Collin O'Mara, the president and CEO of the NWF, said in the past, both Clinton and Trump have said national parks and forests should be protected and preserved for everyone.

"We're asking candidates to affirm their commitment to keeping these public lands in public hands for the good of everyone that loves the outdoors, everyone likes to hunt or fish, or camp or hike, and for the nation's wildlife and our water supplies, and our natural resources," he said.

Critics of federal land ownership argue that the U.S. owns too much of the nation's landscape. They say many of the parks and forests should be turned over to the states or to private landowners.

Supporters of public lands say it's important to remember they belong to everyone, and should be open to all.

The West Virginia Rivers Coalition is the state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation.

Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition said hers isn't one of the groups pressing the candidates to sign on, but they agree national parks and forests are going to be increasingly important to West Virginia as tourism becomes a larger part of the economy. And Rosser stresses that these lands are an important link to what makes us who we are.

"Our heritage in West Virginia is tightly connected to our woods and waters," she said. "Our public lands are the essence of what makes us wild and wonderful West Virginia."

A century after the U.S. National Park system was established, O'Mara said they run the risk of being taken for granted. He said the budget for maintaining the parks has been cut, which can hamper people's ability to enjoy them. So, his group thinks it's important to speak up for our outdoor heritage and the lands that are central to it.

"They were set aside by Republicans and Democrats over many generations, from our greatest conservationist Theodore Roosevelt to the work of this President," he added. "These are the birthright of all Americans, and a lot of hunters and anglers view them as essential."

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV