Editor’s Note: Ted Turner is the founder and chairman of the Turner Foundation, chairman of Turner Enterprises, founder and chairman of the United Nations Foundation, co-founder and co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the second-largest private landowner in the United States. He is also the founder of CNN. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
If my many years in media taught me anything, it’s that we all benefit from news that builds bridges between us, bringing us together as Americans to celebrate a common, worthy cause.
A sweeping public lands and conservation bill called the Natural Resources Management Act was just passed by the US House of Representatives, and, as a passionate conservationist and large landowner, I would be remiss not to celebrate this major bipartisan victory for the planet.
It follows in the footsteps of the 2018 Farm Bill with strong conservation provisions of which the ultimate passage included wide margins of support in both the House and Senate.
Protection and stewardship of our public and private lands are equally important, and it is comforting to see strong support for both in these bills. I want to extend my thanks to the senators and representatives who collaborated to get these across the proverbial finish line.
Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines was recently quoted as saying, “It took public lands to bring a divided government together.” And he’s right. Conservation of our lands and waters is something that brings our country together – it always has. The list of our country’s greenest presidents has both Democrats and Republicans at the top.
President Teddy Roosevelt established an ethic of land and wildlife protection, and his fellow Republican, President Richard Nixon worked with a Democratic House and Senate to sign into law many of our nation’s bedrock environmental protections, like the Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. My friend President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, challenged his fellow Americans to conserve energy and set aside vast acreages of Alaskan wilderness.
I witness a similar union within my own family where a diverse set of political perspectives are represented. It’s this diversity that makes our environmentally-focused family foundation’s strategies stronger and more effective – because we deliberately focus on our common ground.
The mission of my family foundation, the Turner Foundation, is to protect and restore the natural systems – air, land, and water – on which all life depends.
Through the foundation, I have the opportunity to collaborate with my five adult children and 14 grandchildren as we work toward one common goal: To ultimately leave this world in better shape than we found it.
It’s been an honor to collaborate with numerous organizations through the Turner Foundation that have worked hard for many years to advance conservation of public and private lands. It took the teamwork of countless partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to make these victories for land and water conservation possible.
While we should take time to celebrate these successes, we can’t quit now. Let passage of these bills be a first step, as there is much left to be done. I urge all of us who care about this beautiful country, whether it be because you like to hunt, fish, hike, swim, paddle, watch wildlife, farm, or ranch, to look for those ways that we can connect with each other, and together, protect and steward this land that we all love.
Those who know me best know that I like to sing to celebrate. I can’t imagine a more fitting verse than the one below, as we take a moment to honor this wonderful country of ours and all she has to offer.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!