The last four years have been a nightmare for our public lands, our waters, our…
UPDATE: February 2, 2017: Proof that all your calls and letters to Congress actually have an impact. Last night, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz withdrew his odious public lands disposal bill. He still has awful stuff out there and will not stop attacking public lands but this is a big win for us. He bowed under pressure from all of us. Your calls and letters did it. Keep on.
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And here we go. Utah’s Representative Jason Chaffetz has introduced a bill in Congress that will sell off more than 3.3 million acres of public lands. That is about the size Connecticut. H.R. 621, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act looks to sell off:
Arizona: 453,950 acres
Colorado: 93,741 acres
Idaho: 110,022 acres
Montana: 94,520 acres
Nebraska: 6,615 acres
Nevada: 898,460 acres
New Mexico: 813,531 acres
Oregon: 70,308 acres
Utah: 132,931 acres
Wyoming: 694,200 acres
Two weeks ago I pointed out that the GOP was quietly changing rules in the House of Representatives in order to make this sell-off more of a giveaway and much more likely to happen. I told you this was coming. And now it has. Expect more bills like this one. We can’t let any of these bills pass. If we lose these public lands we will never get them back.
Along with the disposal bill, Chaffetz introduced a companion bill, H.R. 622, Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, which would remove the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service on public lands. The idea here is to end our ability to properly manage public lands and keep them safe for the public. Over the past 30 years Republicans have proven masters at the art of ruining a functioning government agency then pointing out how it doesn’t work – and then calling for its elimination.
Among the lands Chaffetz wants to give away are three national monuments. Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico and Utah’s Bear Ears National Monument. Many of the public lands are also home to endangered species such as the Mexican gray wolf.
Jason Amaro, who represents the south-west chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, describes the move as a land grab.
“Last I checked, hunters and fishermen were taxpayers,” said Amaro, who lives in a New Mexico county where 70,000 acres of federal lands are singled out. In total, his state, which sees $650m in economic activity from hunting and fishing, stands to lose 800,000 acres of BLM land, or more than the state of Rhode Island.
Remember. Like the new President, this is very unpopular. Polling indicates that nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose efforts to sell off and privatize public lands – and that includes a strong majority of Trump supporters.
Do Something to Protect Public Lands
1. Call your Congressional Representative now and state very kindly and firmly that you oppose HR 621 and HR 622. Ask your representative to do everything they can to ensure the integrity of America’s public lands.
2. Write a follow up letter to your Representative stating your opposition to HR 621 and HR 622. Tell them that America’s public lands should remain in the hands of the public and that land management agencies such as the Forest Service, BLM and National Park Service should be fully funded so that they can properly manage our lands.
3. Sign this petition
4. Attend a public lands rally in your state
5. Share this information with every hunter, fisherman, camper, hiker, birdwatcher and environmentalist you can. The one issue that constantly unites Republicans and Democrats is public lands. Encourage everyone to call their congressman.
Fight back, but fight forward, too. Imagine the world not just returning to normal but getting radically better because we win this struggle.
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Republicans Move to Give Away Public Lands