Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Trump’s take on public land bucks conservative trend

Alaska issues don’t come up much in presidential debates, but Donald Trump did face a public lands question, and his answer struck a nerve among Western conservatives. A reporter for the magazine Field & Stream did an interview with Trump in late January in Las Vegas. “Seventy percent of hunters in the West hunt on public lands managed by the federal government. Right now there’s a lot discussion about the federal government transferring those lands to states, divesting them of that land. Is that something that you would support as president?” the reporter asked. “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great,” Trump said. “And you don’t know what the states are going to do with them. Are they going to sell as soon as they get in a little bit of a trouble? I don’t think it’s something that should be sold.” Wrong answer, at least according to U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan “Mr. Trump looks obviously uninformed,” the Alaska senator said. Moving more land out federal control is one of Sullivan’s top goals. Collectively, Alaska’s all-Republican delegation has sponsored dozens of bills over the years to do that. Many transfer small parcels, like surplus property from an old Coast Guard Loran station in Tok. Or larger chunks, including some 2,000 acres at Point Spencer, near Nome, to the Bering Straits Native Corp and the state, for possible development as a port. And then there’s the decadeslong effort to reopen the Native allotment process for veterans who missed out during the Vietnam War. Alaska’s sole House member, Don Young, has a bill that would require the Forest Service to convey up to 2 million acres to each state. Young, at a hearing on the bill, said the states can do a better job. “The worst managed lands, by our government, is the Forest Service lands,” he said...more

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