DAILY SUN NEWS EDITORIAL
After years of failed state Department of Natural Resources land management policies leading up to massive wildfires, voters next month will have a clear choice when it comes to electing a new commissioner of public lands: Continue much of the failed extreme environmental practices or transition to a wise-use approach.
Democrat Hilary Franz, an environmental attorney and a Futurewise activist, would have you believe we need to continue restricting motor vehicle and off-road vehicle access, reducing timber harvests and taking large tracts of land off the tax rolls and putting them under state management.
That’s exactly what’s been going on over the last several years under outgoing Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark.
We think its time for a change.
Republican Steve McLaughlin is the best candidate to make the necessary changes.
McLaughlin is better equipped to rein in the state Department of Natural Resources and it’s heretofore failed environmental activism policies. He is a strong advocate for public access to state managed lands. And he is the only candidate who will move us toward a wise-use management system — and along the way, curtail the number of massive wildfires we’ve seen in recent years.
McLaughlin has said he’d begin with an audit of the timber resources, focusing on where timber harvests can be increased to improve the rural economies and funding for public education. (In our state, a large part of our educational funding is predicated on timber harvest revenues from public land held in trust by the state.) He has also advocated for bio-mass projects in small towns devastated by the policies that have destroyed their economies.
A retired Navy commander with a strong history of public service, McLaughlin has a penchant for getting results. And he’s been on the ground involved in disaster relief following the massive wildfires in 2014 and 2015.
In this year’s race for commissioner of public lands, there is no candidate better than McLaughlin to oversee the necessary changes, help rebuild rural economies and communities, and return recreational, cultural and commercial enjoyment of the land to the public.
That said, McLaughlin easily gets our endorsement for state commissioner of public lands.