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On the surface, it sounds like a reasonable idea, and one borne of commonsense fiscal policy. Giving federal land—national forest, refuges and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acreage—back to the states would allow those states to better manage the land within their borders. And it would relieve the federal government of the massive price tag that comes with overseeing hundreds of millions of acres of property.
In reality, though, it’s a backdoor attempt at allowing more resource extraction from our public lands. The largest and most influential group pushing the idea is the American Lands Council, funded largely by corporations with a direct interest in the oil, gas and minerals that lie within that land. A growing number of legislators at various levels are also jumping on board.
Ridiculous, you say? Consider this: In 2012, Republican Governor Gary Herbert from Utah signed the Transfer of Public Lands Act, which required the federal government to transfer public land to Utah. Fortunately, the federal government ignored the state’s law. During the recent presidential primaries, Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas vowed to return federal land within Arizona “back to its rightful owners.”
“We already own it,” says Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) Executive Director Land Tawney. “I’m not sure why they don’t grasp that concept. Public land belongs to the public.”
Even with the revenue from increased mining, drilling and cutting, there’s little reason to believe states could afford all the costs associated with management and maintenance. A study that examined the impact of transferring federal land to the state found it would cost Utah taxpayers $280 million per year. It would cost Montana a half-billion dollars annually.
“If you think the federal government is having a tough time funding all the demands on our public lands, how do you think the states will manage?” said Tawney. “They’ll either have to raise taxes, which no politician would want to do, they’ll have to increase mining, oil, gas and timber extraction, or they’ll have to sell it.”
No matter what choice they take, sportsmen would come out losers. One of the biggest threats to such iconic western species as mule deer, sage grouse and pronghorn is the increased loss of suitable habitat. Various studies have shown that human encroachment has a detrimental effect on all three species. Increased drilling, for example, would lead to new roads, additional rigs and an increase in human activity.
The biggest threat, however, isn’t necessarily new roads, more gas wells and fewer trees: It’s the loss of the land itself. Although lawmakers and industry-backed groups pushing the transfer idea insist selling land to private parties is not in the long-term plan, there’s no guarantee they won’t.
Colorado’s state trust land, owned by the residents of Colorado, includes about 3 million acres. The land was given to the state by the federal government as a way to generate long-term funding for schools. Less than a quarter is open to hunting and fishing, and sportsmen are required to buy a permit to set foot on that land. The rest is leased to ranching, mining and drilling interests. Some states have a mandate that requires maximizing revenue from state trust land, which means selling the mineral or grazing rights to the highest bidder. One Idaho law maker actually proposed leasing state land to outfitters for their exclusive use.
“Those are good examples of what might happen to all the federal land if it is turned over to the states,” warned Tawney.
I don't think any of us want to see these lands go into the hands of private corporations. It sounds like the states are coming up with lease arrangements so that they can generate some revenue and still keep the land in the possession of the state. I'm not sure how these financial requirements can be met any other way. Maybe you guys want to throw out some ideas on how this problem can be solved.
I can tell you one thing. ....the vast majority of any of these lands would be totally inaccessible to the general public if it wasn't for the roads built by these industries. The forests of northern Maine are a prime example of this. No one would see any of northern Maine...if it wasn't for the logging roads. But thanks to those logging roads there are literally millions ( 12 million ) of acres now available for us to enjoy .
I can tell you one thing. ....the vast majority of any of these lands would be totally inaccessible to the general public if it wasn't for the roads built by these industries. The forests of northern Maine are a prime example of this. No one would see any of northern Maine...if it wasn't for the logging roads. But thanks to those logging roads there are literally millions ( 12 million ) of acres now available for us to enjoy
And the public does have use of these roads granted by these corporations.
Plus, it's not like local politics and small town politics can't also be petty, divisive, and corrupt. In this situation, what stops a corrupt State bureaucrat from selling off large sections of State land to their friends, donors, or a foreign company? They could sell off the public lands at pennies on the dollar just to enrich themselves. After all, I'm almost positive that the majority of political lobbying happens at the State level, not the federal level.
originally posted by: TruMcCarthy
Thank God! Why on Earth the Feds own so much land is beyond comprehension. Give it to States, people, or companies, that will actually make use of it, rather than having it go to waste in the hands of a corrupt, anti-American, globalist federal government. Oh my god we might get more resources or oil from the land, how horrible!
"President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, a Republican Congressman from Montana, opposes transfers of federal land and quit the Republican Party Platform Committee in Cleveland last summer when similar language was inserted in it. But when the issue came up this week, he voted for the rules change."