"Keeping the public on public lands & waters"




Facebook  


Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust


Donate via PayPal






This Land is Your Land


The idea has been around for a while now, dating back to the Nevada-based Sage Brush Rebellion of the 1980s. Like a lot of bad ideas, it can be dressed up to look good at first glance: Get those vast, "mismanaged" tracts of western public land out of the hands of the distant, incompetent federal government and into the hands of people who know how to use it right. However, in its current iteration the push to disburse these federal lands represents a greater threat to the future of American hunting than anything the anti-hunters could have come up with in their wildest dreams.

This potential disaster resurfaced as a sleeper--a little-noticed plank in the 2012 Republican Party national platform that openly called for the sale of these lands to the highest private bidders. When I called this to readers attention at the time, a lot of you didnt believe me--until I showed it to you in black and white. (Feel free to look it up again on the Internet.) The idea didnt fly in that form--it was a bit too obviously selfish. Now the wealthy interests behind it in the first place have re-packaged it in what appears to be a more palatable form: bills in several western state legislatures calling for transfer of these lands to state control. In an age rife with anti-Washington sentiment that sounds appealing, until you take a closer look.

States like Montana--the one I know best, because I live here--are rich in land, resources, and wildlife, but poor in cash. Western states simply do not have the finances to manage these additional millions of acres. The cost of one bad fire season would wipe out the coffers, at which point these recently acquired lands would wind up on the auction block, which is exactly what the movements backers had in mind in the first place. Those buyers will not be people like you and me, and it would not take them long to start locking gates, building high fences, and privatizing the game that lives inside them.

Consider what is at stake. Right now, American hunters of ordinary means enjoy vast opportunities to hunt elk, antelope, deer, and other game species on public land in the West, opportunities of the kind only the fabulously wealthy can enjoy in other countries. That could all disappear with a stroke of the pen, and right now a lot of powerful interest groups are preparing those documents for signature.

Let us be clear. This is not a matter of Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. These lands are not currently owned by "the government." The landowners are the tax-paying citizens of the United States--all fifty of those states. As Woody Guthrie once reminded us, "This land belongs to you and me."

If some powerful interests get their way, that wont be true for long. Here in Montana, we have already had a taste of what happens when wealthy outside interests purchase old family ranches and lock the gates behind them. Now, we can still fall back on the great hunting available on BLM and Forest Service land. Are we going to stand by and let those opportunities vanish? If you have ever dreamed about hunting western elk, antelope, or mule deer without coughing up half your hard-earned paycheck to rent a key to a gate, you had better join the millions of American outdoors men and women who have already seen through the smokescreen and said, "Hell, no!"

Don Thomas


related articles

Ruby River Stream Access Victory
( 07/01/2016 )   7/1/2016PLWA, once again, has been victorious in the battle for the public's stream access on the Ruby River, from the Seyler Lane Bridge, likely the original stagecoach route from Salt Lake City, north to Virginia City and Helena.It has been over a decade that PLWA (formerly known as PLAAI) has been involved in a lawsuit over public access to the Ruby River from Seyler Lane and the Seyler Bridge, a public prescriptive easement right-of-way in Madison County.

"Dark Money" Brought to Light
( 07/01/2016 )   The June-July, Newscasts section of Fly Fisherman reported on the recent investigation by Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl, into a dark money campaign that could overturn Montana's Stream Access.Fly Fisherman recounted the Montana Growth Network's campaign contributions to District Judge Laurie McKinnon's run for our Montana Supreme Court.

public land issues

Seyler Lane Update
9/24/2015Seyler Bridge Easement - More Than Just RecreationUpdate - Kennedys attorney requested a postponement of the September 21 hearing.

Tenderfoot - Four Years and Counting
9/24/2015Tenderfoot Creek is a tributary of the Smith River, joining the Smith a mile or so north of Camp Baker.


    18 more public land issues


Elk in the big open



Public Land/Water Access Association Inc. or PLWA, is a citizen group organized and operated under the Montana nonprofit corporation act.

TERMS OF USE
Articles and Information on this site represent the opinion of the writer and are not intended as legal advice. Legal counsel may be needed in dealing with specific access situations and issues.
     
      PLWA.ORG   -   Public Land & Water Association