Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Land Use

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Section title: Land Use and Sustainable Communities

Section subtitle: Stewardship in action

Our position: All land use policies, plans and practices should be based on sustainable development and production, a reduce-reuse-recycle ethic, and respect for all living systems.

Greens believe both wild nature and human communities can co-exist and sustain one another. We support a balance between creating more resilient social structures and preserving a bioregional perspective that leads to enhanced diversity in our natural environments.

Given that the majority of our nation lives in urban areas, Greens believe well-considered urban land use strategies are essential to the health, safety and welfare of people in the United States as well as the long-term ecological sustainability of our planet.

Green Solutions

Land Ownership and Property Rights

1. Support the protection of private property rights as provided in our Constitution and laws, but also insist that every right has an implied responsibility – in this case to provide for the common good of the people as a whole, remembering that reciprocity is the keystone of all social relations.

2. Encourage the formation and operation of cooperative companies, non-profits, co-housing, land trusts and other forms of communal and public interest organizations, where appropriate.

Urban Land Use

1. Because the Earth is essentially a closed system, it cannot tolerate unrestrained growth without serious environmental consequences. We believe that there is a difference between growth and development, and that we need to encourage development that utilizes what we have in a more efficient and ecological manner without encouraging our cities to sprawl.

2. We need to understand the carrying capacities of the bioregions in which our cities are located and attempt to match urban populations to these natural limitations. We need to better understand our ecological footprint as societies and as individuals vis-à-vis the natural resources available to all peoples of the Earth.

3. Greens support urban land use patterns that help preserve agricultural lands, greenways and linked wilderness areas that allow the free movement of plant and animal life around our cities.

4. At the same time, Greens understand the ecology and economy come from the same Latin root word, and healthy environments paired with healthy economies foster the best balance for human and natural systems.

5. Restoration of natural ecosystems damaged by early industrialism can improve our quality of life while providing essential jobs for our society. Encouraging high-density urban neighborhoods, greenbelts, urban agriculture, energy-efficient infill, distributed solar and wind generation, undergrounding of wires and pipelines, affordable housing, low-cost non-polluting transit systems, redevelopment of brownfields, environmental justice policies, bicycle and walking paths, closed loop, energy-producing sewage systems, watershed protection, disincentives for conspicuous consumption, green technologies and other innovative techniques need to be explored and utilized in our cities of the future.

Rural Land Use

1. Respect for traditional rural land use patterns is consistent with promoting open space, wildlife corridors and the production of food and fiber for human societies when done in a sustainable and ecologically sound manner.

2. Ranchers, farmers, foresters and miners have been the backbone of this nation. While Greens encourage a move away from our over-reliance on traditional extractive industries, we recognize that our rural communities are intimately connected to these activities and we must slowly transition into a more sustainable relationship with ranching, agriculture, forestry and mining – particularly we need to support some sustainable level of all these industries in order to build a sustainable future. By way of example, in order for the solar industry to prosper we have to develop our mined supplies of rare metals used in the construction of solar panels.

3. Greens support a critical examination of our modern overdependence on big agricultural and ranching operations with their increasingly expensive use of pesticides, herbicides, fossil fuels and genetically modified seed, and encourage the organic and local slow food movements in this country, as well as the development of farmers markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA).

4. Given the huge distances between rural settlements, we must find modes of transportation that don’t require use of fossil fuels.

5. Eliminate public subsidies for livestock grazing on public lands.

Natural Resource Management

1. Greens believe that effective land and resource management practices must be founded on stewardship, such as incorporated in a land ethic as articulated by Aldo Leopold. Balanced natural resource management should serve to honor the land for the interdependent harmony of living parts that it is, to provide for human needs in a responsible and sustainable way, and to foster the preservation of the ecological health of our forests, grasslands, mountains, prairies and coastlines.

2. We believe that all human activities need to be sustainable and protective of ecological health above all else. Activities that damage the landscape need to be remediated and all polluted environments returned to a state of ecological health.

3. Greens support the use of collaboratives, partnerships and resource advisory councils and other democratic means of extending public involvement in federal decision-making, particularly giving voice to local communities most affected by federal decisions.

4. Repeal the 1872 Mining Law. We need to initiate reasonable federal taxes and local revenue sharing on profits from mineral, oil, gas and gravel activities on public lands. We support strict regulatory guidelines and effective enforcement of all federal, state and local rules regarding mining. We are particularly concerned about international funding policies that lead to environmental disasters in other nations where mining laws may not be as strict.

5. We support preferences, subsidies and differential regulations for small-scale ranchers and farmers over large-scale corporate operations. We support the attempts of groups like the Quivira Coalition of New Mexico to bring ranchers and environmentalists together to initiate real grazing reforms that reward farmer and ranchers monetarily for the ecosystem services they provide on private lands and protect public lands from overgrazing and ecological disasters.

6. We call for a vast and committed cleanup of past industrial practices on our public lands that have damaged the air, the water, the soil, and our forests. Restoration and remediation should be a new growth industry of jobs in a green future. We believe that regional long-term environmental and social impacts of any resource extractions should be minimized, and the land, if damaged, restored to an ecologically healthy state.

7. Create large continuous tracts of public and private land managed for wildlife habitat and biological diversity – where possible as open space and complete ecosystems, so as to permit healthy, self-managing wildlife populations to exist in a natural state.

8. Oppose the sale of any portion our national parks, forests or coastlines or the commercial privatization of the management of these lands, and support sufficient funding to maintain public lands in a healthy and productive state.

9. We support a ban on indiscriminate wildlife “damage control practices” and the abolition of Wildlife Services, formerly known as the Animal Damage Control Agency.

10. We support a comprehensive baseline inventory and mapping of our nation’s biodiversity resources.

11. Greens support watershed planning to mitigate the effects of development in our streams, rivers and lakes. Storm water management, soil erosion and sedimentation control, the establishment of vegetative buffers, and performance standards for development are appropriate measures to be applied. Special attention must be given to the restoration and protection of riparian areas, which are critical habitats in healthy ecosystems.

12. Airsheds need to be protected from pollution, particularly from carbon-generating energy sources located on public lands.