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.
Our planet 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.
Greens aim to ensure that any new development has as little negative impact on the environment as possible. We seek to minimize the encroachment onto undeveloped sites, reduce the need for people to travel excessively, and encourage the use of ecologically sustainable building practices.
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. Our social structures must be scaled appropriately in relation to our natural systems and natural environments.
Greens believe that effective land and resource management practices must be founded on stewardship. 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.
Land ownership and property rights
1. Insist that every property right has an implied responsibility to provide for the common good of people, places and the planet.
2. Encourage the formation and operation of cooperative companies, non-profits, co-housing, land trusts and other forms of communal and public interest organizations.
Urban land use
1. Revitalize neighborhoods with high-density affordable housing, mass transit, bicycle and walking paths, community gardens, open space, parks, playgrounds, commons and other places for people to meet, gather and build community.
2. Green our cities with green belts, energy-efficient infill, distributed solar and wind generation, gray water systems, undergrounding of wires and pipelines, redevelopment of brownfields, closed loop, energy-producing sewage systems, watershed protection and urban agriculture.
3. 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. Restore damaged urban ecosystems.
5. Determine the carrying capacities of the bioregions in which our cities are located and attempt to match urban populations to these natural limitations.
6. Support environmental justice policies that give communities a voice in planning future development with the goal of preventing concentration of polluting infrastructure in poor and/or minority communities.
7. Locate schools, places of employment, medical facilities, and shopping areas within easy walking or bicycling distances from residences, or at mass transit stops.
8. Include bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in development plans. For example, inter-connected bike paths and pedestrian-only malls.
9. Restore and revitalize damaged urban areas.
10. Support the long-term goal of re-establishing land use patterns and electoral districts consistent with a bioregional model of land use.
11. Change tax and planning laws to promote decentralized, renewable energy infrastructures, 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.
12. Provide disincentives for over-consumption. Educate citizens about reducing levels of consumption.
Rural land use
1. Respect traditional rural land use patterns that promote open space, wildlife corridors and the ecologically sound production of food and fiber for human societies.
2. Slowly transition rural communities into a more sustainable relationship with ranching, agriculture, forestry and mining.
3. Improve transportation between rural settlements without increasing our use of fossil fuels.
4. Eliminate public subsidies for livestock grazing on public lands.
Natural resource management
1. Repeal the General Mining Law of 1872. Impose royalties paid to the United States on profits from mineral, oil, gas and gravel activities on public lands. Enact tough new environmental safeguards against mining pollution.
2. Support strict regulatory guidelines and effective enforcement of all federal, state and local rules regarding mining.
3. Support preferences, subsidies and differential regulations for small-scale ranchers and farmers over large-scale corporate operations.
4. 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.
5. Conduct a vast restoration and remediation of past industrial practices on our public lands that have damaged the air, the water, the soil, and our forests.
6. Minimize regional long-term environmental and social impacts of any resource extractions, 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. Support a ban on indiscriminate wildlife “damage control practices” and the abolition of Wildlife Services, formerly known as the Animal Damage Control Agency.
10. Support the use of storm water management, soil erosion and sedimentation control, the establishment of vegetative buffers, and performance standards for development to mitigate the effects of development in our streams, rivers and lakes. Special attention must be given to the restoration and protection of riparian areas, which are critical habitats in healthy ecosystems.
11. Protect airsheds from pollution, particularly from carbon-generating energy sources located on public lands.
12. 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.
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.