Friday, July 01, 2016

Conservation group warns of political battle over public lands



Montana should brace itself for a battle over public lands this election cycle, a left-leaning public interest group cautioned Billings voters Wednesday.

Pressure is building in Western states to transfer ownership of the federal lands to state governments, ultimately resulting in a selloff, according to the Center for Western Priorities. The Center used an armed militia’s takeover last winter of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon as a cautionary tale of a Western movement to take control of federal land.

A Center for Western Priorities poll of the Montana voters revealed that most Montanans opposed the takeover orchestrated by anti-government protester Ammon Bundy. The group identified sympathizing with such extremism as sure way for political candidates to lose in November.

“Our poll results show that regardless of political party, voters in Montana and across the West favor balance and pragmatism and reject the extreme anti-public-lands agenda of the Bundy family and those who participated in the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon earlier this year,” said Jennifer Rokala, CWP director.

Members of a six-member panel, including two Oregon Public Broadcasting reporters who covered that standoff, linked the Bundy militants’ frustration with federal management of public lands to a larger Western movement to transfer ownership of federal lands to the states.



Members of a six-member panel, including two Oregon Public Broadcasting reporters who covered that standoff, linked the Bundy militants’ frustration with federal management of public lands to a larger Western movement to transfer ownership of federal lands to the states. 

It appears the sole purpose of this column is to tarnish the non-violent movement to transfer lands with the Bundys, the militia, militants and violence.

Notice how they frame the argument:  If you are frustrated with federal management, then you are a Bundy supporter, and if you are part of the movement to transfer ownership, then you are a Bundy-type.

Rather than debate the pros and cons of a transfer, they resort to personal attacks and guilt by association.  This has been going on for awhile, but the column linked to is the most flagrant example I've seen so far.

The only transfer issue brought up in this column is these lands might wind up in private hands.  Personally, I would like to see a clean transfer to the states, where the local needs and concerns can influence the highest and best use of the resource.  However, if there is a legitimate concern for maintaining public access to certain parcels or areas, you simply place a reverter clause in the transfer instrument.  If the state or private owner doesn't, in this case, maintain public access, the land reverts back to the feds.  Reverter clauses already exist in law, such as the Recreation & Public Purposes Act, so that language could be easily adapted for public access.  In other words, the one issue they raise can be easily resolved.

4 comments:

Dave Pickel said...

I’m in Frank! Pass title of all that Federal ground back to the local control of the Native Americans from whom it was taken. You must admit they did an admirable job of managing it before the white man showed up.

The Feds will still bear the cost of fighting wildland fire no matter who controls/manges the land. You know this is true. In state hands, it would be sold off piece meal until it was all POSTED, NO TRESPASSING! Believe it or not.

Frank DuBois said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank DuBois said...

The Native Americans are still doing a better job than the feds, witness the Mescalero and Jicarilla Apaches in New Mexico.

As far as No Trespassing, didn't you read what I wrote about a reverter clause?

The states currently own approx. 190 million acres - wonder why that hasn't all been sold off?

Dave Pickel said...

You know it Frank. I'm in as long as local control is passed on to Native Americans. They can administer grazing leases as they see fit. Visit the Rubies sometime in Elko County if you can sometime. Locked up tighter than a drum. Not uncommon I'm afraid.

Regarding state owned 190 million acres, which states and how much per? Thanks for listening.