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The New Dangerous Ignorance About Public Lands


Field and Stream

The Conservationist Blog - October 04, 2013


The New Dangerous Ignorance of American Public Lands

By Hal Herring

As would-be pontiffs pontificate about the shutdown, and ideologues of the left and right declare the end of America, some federal employees are going about some very serious business. You and I and Aunt Millicent are barred from visiting our National Parks and our federal wildlife refuges (that we paid for with our duck stamp money), and in Montana, more than 12,000 public lands managers, biologists, clerks and outhouse technicians are worrying about car payments while they are hunting ducks, watching Netflix, or trying to close in to archery distance with a big bull elk. But the government shutdown is no forced vacation for those who care nothing for America’s hunting and fishing heritage. These ideologues see this whole political pseudo-showdown as an opportunity, and they are busier than ever.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is pushing his bill, H.R. 2657, also known as The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Law of 2013, to sell off 3.3 million acres of our public lands. H.R. 2657 is only the most recent mutation of the endless quest by a small group of politicians to get rid of public lands. H.R. 1017 (called the American Land Act), introduced in March of this year by Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), also mandates the sale of our public lands. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT) have long supported giving 30 million acres of our federal lands to the state of Utah for management, with Senator Hatch having told reporters, "We should be taking care of the lands ourselves. No one wants to despoil the lands, but we're sick and tired of the federal bureaucracy telling us what we can and cannot do."

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