Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Land Use
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 urban/rural human communities can co-exist and sustain one another. We want to work to achieve a balance between helping institutions to create more resilience in our 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 our citizens as well as the long-term ecological sustainability of our planet.
Land Ownership and Property Rights
1. Support the protection of private property rights as provided in our laws and founding Constitution, 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.
2004 SECTION ON LAND USE
Greens are advocates for the Earth. When we see the first picture ever taken of our green oasis from space, photographed from the window of the Apollo flight, we marvel at the preciousness of life.
We remember John Muir’s and Edward Abbey’s call to protect what is critical to our spirit. Experiencing the wilderness calls us to preserve pristine nature. Our advocacy is based on our love of nature and our recognition that it is beyond us.
Greens support restructuring institutions to conform to bioregional realities. Just as the planetary ecology consists of systems at various scales, so must our programs and institutions of ecological stewardship be scaled appropriately. The land, air, and water – the interconnected biosphere – is a unique and precious community deserving careful consideration and protection.
Guided by our sense of stewardship, all land use polices, plans, and practices should be based on sustainable development and production, the reduce-reuse-recycle ethic, and the encouragement of balance between optimum and diverse use of land.
1. Land Ownership and Property Rights
We encourage the social ownership and use of land at the community, local, and regional level. For example, community and conservation land trusts under covenants of ecological responsibility.
2. Urban Land Use
Well-considered urban land use strategies are essential to the well being and quality of life of all residents and visitors, and also are necessary for the ecological sustainability of the Earth.
Because the Earth is essentially a closed system, it cannot tolerate unrestrained growth without serious environmental consequences. The consequence of over-development has been and continues to be environmental destruction as areas exceed their natural carrying capacities.
By following the specific items set forth below, planners can design urban land use strategies that will help reduce each person’s ecological footprint. This term refers to the amount of land the average person actually uses given overall consumption of housing, food, energy, etc. A smaller ecological footprint per person means less impact on our environment. We support coordinated urban land use patterns that help preserve agricultural and wilderness lands.
It is imperative that we as a nation find a means to control urban sprawl. The ecological, social, and fiscal crises engendered by sprawl are becoming evermore apparent. Greens enthusiastically endorse the Metropolitics movement, which seeks to control sprawl by integrating such measures as urban growth boundaries, tax base sharing, fair housing, and metropolitan transportation.
The Green Party proposes to:
a. Support the use of green technologies that restore natural ecosystems while improving the quality of life for humans and furthering the co-existence of human populations with other species and natural systems.
b. Support the use of the ecological footprint model to help communities assess the burden they place on their local, regional, and global environment, and to help them understand how they can improve their own communities.
c. Encourage appropriately higher-density communities and urban infill development to prevent urban sprawl into agricultural and wilderness areas.
d. Integrate an increased and sufficient number of affordable housing units into urbanized areas. These units should remain a part of the affordable housing stock for the life of the units. Also, protect current residents from displacement and encourage a wide variety of housing that will attract a wide variety of new residents.
e. Support population densities in urbanized areas with appropriate infrastructure to facilitate public transit travel, shopping, recycling, renewable energy production, urban forestry, habitat restoration, public park renewal, and the re-development of brownfields.
f. Support environmental justice policies that give communities a voice in planning future development with the goal of preventing concentration of polluting infrastructure in under-represented poor and/or minority communities.
g. Plan open spaces, parklands, greenbelts, and public garden plots as components of all development plans.
h. Locate schools, places of employment, medical facilities, and shopping areas within easy walking or bicycling distances from residences, or at mass transit stops.
i. Include bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in development plans. For example, inter-connected bike paths and pedestrian-only malls.
j. Support efforts of cities and counties to re-develop, restore, and revitalize impacted local ecosystems.
k. Support the long-term goal of re-establishing land use patterns and electoral districts consistent with a bioregional model of land use.
l. Explore closed-loop sewage treatment systems and urban graywater systems wherever possible.
m. Change tax and planning laws to promote decentralized, renewable energy infrastructures in urban and suburban areas.
n. Change tax and planning laws to promote restoration and revitalization of degraded lands, improvements in watershed management, and protection/reintroduction of listed, threatened, or endangered species in suburban, rural, and agricultural areas.
o. Educate citizens about reducing levels of consumption including over-consumption of living space.
p. Rather than move populations back to the land, it is important to bring the land back to cities. This requires consolidating housing into such structures as ecolonies, to free open space, and to move about by bicycle, train, bus and on foot so that roadways may be converted to parkland and agriculture. This would replenish urban soils and reduce water waste by shifting from flush toilets to compost toilets. Also in other ways we should restructure cities to respect the capacities of nature and rely on the creativity of neighborhoods.
3. Natural Resource Management
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. Stringent natural resource management should serve to prevent activities that adversely affect public and adjacent lands.
The Green Party calls for:
a. Repeal of the Mining Act of 1872. We demand a halt to federal mineral, oil and gas, and resource giveaways, “royalty holidays,” and flagrant concessions to the mining, energy and timber industries; and an immediate crackdown on their evasive and fraudulent reporting.
b. Strict enforcement of clean-up of industrial-scale natural resource extraction activities. For example, cleaning up tailings, pits, and runoff from mining operations by agreements with companies that can include posting of site restoration bonds prior to commencement of operations. The regional long term environmental and social impacts of any resource extractions should be minimized, and the land restored to a healthy ecological state.
c. halting all current international funding policies that promote destruction of forest ecosystems, and we call for an end to the trade in endangered hardwoods. We support laws that promote paper recycling and mandate sustainable forestry practices that promote biodiversity. We also call for the development of alternative sources of paper manufacturing, such as from hemp fiber.
d. Protecting old growth forests, a zero-cut policy banning industrial timber harvest on federal and state lands, a ban on all clear-cutting, and a reduction of road building on public lands.
e. Raising grazing fees on public land to approximate fair market value, and significant grazing reforms. We support policies that favor small-scale ranchers over corporate operations (which are often used as tax write-offs, a practice that undermines family ranches).
f. Preserving and extending wildlife habitat and biological diversity by creating and preserving large continuous tracts of open space (complete ecosystems so as to permit healthy, self-managing wildlife populations to exist in a natural state). We oppose any selling of our National Parks, the commercial privatizing of public lands, and cutbacks or exploitation in our national wilderness areas.
g. Public involvement in decision making by active and well funded Resource Management Districts and Councils. This will aid a long term process on the use of federal and state trust lands, which are currently controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service, National Park Service, and State Land Offices.
h. Banning indiscriminate wildlife “damage control practices” and abolishing the Animal Damage Control agency that has been renamed Wildlife Services.
i. Comprehensive baseline mapping of our nation’s biodiversity resources.
j. Watershed planning to mitigate the impacts of urban development on 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 in this area. Special attention must be given to the restoration and protection of riparian areas, which are critical habitats in healthy ecosystems.