May 15, 2022
KALISPELL, MT – After halting the progress of the National Surplus Management Agency’s newest project on Monday morning, the protestors hoped that their cheers and shouts could be heard in the halls of the United States capitol all the way from the Northern Rocky Mountains.
After nearly two years’ worth of protesting, America Needs Parks, an environmental group who has lead the charge combating the NSMA’s program to turn the nation’s National Park system into usable utilities, effectively stopped the group’s attempt to turn Glacier National Park into a petrochemical refinery.
The victory was a large one for the environmental group, but was also significant for a number of political reasons.
While White House Press Secretary Tomi Lahren disagreed that the NSMA’s program has ground to a halt, many of the programs across the country, including the project at Glacier National Park, have been paused for weeks.
This pause is likely a result of widespread and bipartisan political pressure put on Congress since February, when the representatives returned home for heated and pointed town hall meetings that were almost exclusively about the NSMA’s unpopular plan.
One-by-one, senators and representatives denounced the plan, citing the overwhelmingly negative public opinions towards the project. With the mid-term elections coming in November, many Republican representatives crossed the wishes of President Melissa Glenn in pulling their support for the NSMA.
While conservatives have yet to call for an end to the program, liberal lawmakers have had no such qualms.
“It’s time for this to go,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Monday when reached for comment. “This project never had legs and now that the public has made their voices heard, even the most right-leaning politicians know this was never a good idea.”
This most recent victory in Northern Montana comes in a wave of other victories for environmental and political groups alike.
Since the Acadia Urban Development plan was halted by a protest camp set up inside the park’s gates last year, opposition groups have realized the potential of the protests.
An enormous protest at Badlands National Park in January braved sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions to express its displeasure with that project as well.
Since, the projects in Yellowstone, Utah, Florida and Sequoia have all been on hold as the funding for the projects dissipated.
NSMA spokesman Jeff McIntosh declined to provide a comment on the matter this morning.
Beyond the political influence of the project, environmental groups are thrilled with the way the momentum appears to be shifting.
However, the damage already done by the NSMA has made America Needs Parks co-founder Graham Hodgson weary.
“They’ve done a great deal of damage,” he said. “It will take years’ worth of work to restore these places to their original beauty.”
That said, Hodgson is pleased that the program did not continue through Glenn’s second term, which his how he began to feel after the Hawai’I project’s quick adoption last year.
“Luckily, we caught it before it got out of hand,” he said. “The damage could have been irreparable, but because of these brave men and women who protested with us throughout this devastating ordeal, we can begin to make our parks great again.”
Hodgson explained that his followers will need to bring a similar fervor and energy to the re-building process and hopes that these victories will create momentum for his group.
Still, he warned, the NSMA is not to be forgotten.
“Until this program is dead and buried, we will persist,” said Shalee Murphy, a protestor who attended protests from Yellowstone to Acadia during the past few years. “If we’ve learned anything, it’s that we have to keep an eye on them.”
A watchful eye will remain on the depleted NSMA program, but the cheers of the crowd on Monday reflected those of a group that has already won.