Update Feb. 2, 2017: Rep. Chaffetz dropped H.R. 621 after receiving push back from hunters. The lesson hear: the voice of the people means something! Speak out when you see politicians doing something you like or don’t like. At this time, H.R. 622 (see below) has not been withdrawn and could have as serious and impact on public lands as H.R. 621.
The new Republican-lead congress is already hard at work trying to sell and deprotect millions of acres of public lands in the American west, evidenced by two bill proposed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
Together, the bill would put large swaths of public land up for sale and would remove the federal government’s ability to police the areas. The land in question are located in states neighboring California and other regions of the West: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
Outdoor Alliance provided the following interpretation of the bills:
Bill description: To direct the Secretary of the Interior to sell certain Federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, previously identified as suitable for disposal, and for other purposes. “Directs land management agencies to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands identified “as being suitable for sale” nearly a generation ago, without regard to their present recreational or conservation values. We are continuing to work on identifying the specific parcels that would be up for sale, but these threats of large-scale, indiscriminate transfers are an assault on our common ownership of public lands.” – Outdoor Alliance
Bill description: To terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and to provide block grants to States for the enforcement of Federal law on Federal land under the jurisdiction of these agencies, and for other purposes.
“A second bill from Rep. Chaffetz, H.R. 622 would strip law enforcement functions from the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, leaving protections for public lands at the whim of local sheriffs, who are unlikely to be familiar with the rules and regulations that protect our public lands or be trained and equipped for work in wild landscapes.” – Outdoor Alliance
“These bills reflect a radical agenda aimed at dispossessing Americans of their public lands,” Outdoor Alliance writes. “Currently, there is no full text available for either of these bills, nor are there hearings scheduled, but we are keeping a close eye on them and will share timely information on reaching out to stop them.”
In the meantime, OA is encouraging people to contact their congressperson to share concerns about Rep. Chaffetz’s bills that put the continued existence of our country’s public lands in peril. You can do that right here, through their website.