In a moment of madness, this writer wandered off the reservation and into Think Progress. This normally requires lubrication with adult beverages, but in the last few days that hasn’t been in the cards. After the big and buried news of two weeks ago that the Obama Administration helped itself to a few million acres of California and are planning a heist of a good chunk of eastern Oregon, liberals were practically giddy. Little did they know that the Republicans in Congress were looking to hand some of the lands previously confiscated back to the states, and make provisions for state control of some national forests.
The article from February 23 is practically apocalypic and tells us of the bills under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives – and testimony to be heard by the House Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday.
The first bill, introduced by Representative Don Young from Alaska (R), would allow any state to seize control and ownership of up to 2 million acres of national forests within its borders — an area nearly the size of Yellowstone National Park. A state would then be able to auction off the lands to private ownership or for mining, logging, and drilling.
The second bill, written by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), would give states and counties the right to take direct control of up to 4 million acres of national forests across the country for clear-cut logging, without regard to environmental laws and protections. A third bill, written by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), would turn over what the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance estimates to be 6,000 miles of road right-of-ways on U.S. public lands to counties in Utah, opening the door for road construction and development in protected wilderness areas.
And here we all thought that once the federal government got its mitts on land and property that it was gone down a rathole forever. Maybe not.
These bills are still in committee, and they have quite a road to travel before becoming law. In addition, since leftist outposts like Think Progress are openly blaming these moves – simple, common sense, and return lands to the states that are under or not utilized moves – on “the Koch brothers’ political network, anti-government extremist groups, and a small group of conservative politicians led by the committee’s chairman, U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT).” Their contention is that the support for people like Cliven Bundy and their pre-revolutionary stands is not as deep as conservatives claim, and is in fact rather shallow.
Recent public opinion research from Colorado College found that approximately six in 10 voters in the region — including a majority in Nevada — are opposed to the idea.
There are signs that the Bundys’ political supporters are facing a growing political backlash for their extreme views. In Wyoming, for example, an outcry from hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists in the state recently helped defeat two bills that aimed to facilitate a state take-over of national public lands.
Or it could just be that the people really have not been educated in the real issues surrounding government land grabs, and that the people who stand in opposition of the confiscation, and in favor of allowing public access to public lands, are so often painted as nutjobs on the fringe of society standing in the way of government “protecting” precious resources when that really is not the case. This is the sort of rhetoric used by liberals to sell this idea, and that of the current canard that the Koch Brothers are all about backing the liberation of federal lands due to greed.
Four Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate in Western states are also circulating a petition to “Keep Public Lands in Public Hands,” which criticizes efforts to seize and sell public lands. “We cannot allow our public lands to be locked up, sold off, or only accessible to the wealthy few,” the petition reads.
At least the wealthy would be using the land for something other than a pretty monument to themselves. At this point, that is what the liberals’ image for public lands seems to be: a living testimony to the reality that they do it because they can.