Courtesy of Kimberly Dawley
A group of organizers and activists rallied outside Wayne National Forest headquarters on Dec. 10, protesting the impending auction of public forest land in Ohio
. Tomorrow, the Bureau of Land Management will sell off some 1,676 acres of land to gas and oil drillers — expressly
to gas and oil drillers, mind you, as that's precisely what the federal government wants to do with our state's only national forest.
"The Wayne lives and breathes. The water in and around it means life. It is a special place, a national forest, there for the enjoyment of everyone, even creatures. It should not be leased or sold to the highest bidder for virtually what amounts to its destruction,” Kimberly Dawley said during a Dec. 10 protest. She and her group, Save the Wayne
, were joined by other organizers in opposition to the federal government auctioning public land to gas and oil drillers. “We are inspired by everyone we see around the country who are speaking out about these issues, particularly at Standing Rock, and are following in their footsteps."
The auction takes place Dec. 13, though only private companies with plans to drill and extract minerals will be permitted to bid. (A Utah was sent to prison for 21 months
after placing false bids on land out there.)
A change.org petition
opposing the auction has garnered nearly 100,000 signatures. Nathaniel McCarthy, the man behind the petition, told Scene
last month that the Bureau of Land Management has received official letters of protest and has shown no signal that it will reconsider the auctioning of public land.
"The outlook is bleak in terms of the petition getting accepted," McCarthy said, "but in terms of us continuing to fight and standing up for our right to protect the land that we live on — that's looking very positive. We have a lot of people down there who are very passionate about this forest and disgusted, frankly, by the fact that it could just be an oil field in a few years."
Further compounding the debate is President-elect Donald Trump's wish to see U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to head up the Department of the Interior, which oversees all federal public land (like Wayne National Forest). Rodgers has urged
the Bureau of Land Management to sell off public land across the Western U.S. to oil and gas drillers.