Federal lands must not go to the states

The opinion piece below makes one really important point: Public lands belong to the American people.  All of us.   If states obtain these lands, they will likely sell them off.  Unfortunately, we are seeing disgraceful corporate exploitation of public lands under the BLM and Forest Service, as well.  But we know things would be worse for the wild horses and burros if public lands were under control of states.   –  Debbie

th  photo:  BLM

SOURCE: dailyinterlake.com

By Riley McClelland

National forests and Bureau of Land Management lands belong to all of us. They do not and should not belong to the states in which they exist. These federal lands are much too important to be managed by state agencies guided by politicians. With federal ownership, each of us has a potential say in how these great landscapes are managed, no matter their location.

Montanans can influence how the Tongass National Forest (Alaska) is managed. Alaskans, or citizens of any state, have a right to help determine how the Flathead National Forest is managed. That is as it should be. These lands have multiple benefits for the entire country: the production of clean water, wilderness, diversity of natural habitats for wildlife, a variety of outdoor recreation pursuits, selective harvesting of second-growth timber, and mining at appropriate sites.

Transferring federal lands to the states could bring back the disgraceful corporate exploitation that occurred throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. Forests were plundered for timber, minerals, land speculation, and other utilitarian interests, without regard to the long-term interests of the general public. This land abuse motivated Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot to successfully fight for the establishment of forest reserves, national forests, and the U.S. Forest Service. In his first annual address to Congress (1901), Republican President Theodore Roosevelt said: “The forest reserves should be set apart forever for the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not sacrificed to the shortsighted greed of a few.”

It is true that there have been plenty of problems in the management of federal lands — for example the “timber mining” that occurred in the Bitterroot National Forest in the 1950s and 1960s (refer to the Bolle Report (1970), “A University View of the Forest Service,” Senate Doc. 91-115). Currently, the Forest Service and BLM are underfunded in critical programs. As a result, law violators go unprosecuted. Impacts of proposed timber sales, roads, mines, and motorized use are inadequately evaluated. Incomplete evaluation results in successful litigation by organizations, demonstrating that the agencies are not doing a satisfactory job in those cases.

Existing problems could be resolved by a Congress interested in furthering natural resource conservation. Federal management of public lands would greatly improve if agencies were properly funded and enabled to consistently follow sound ecological principles, rather than being pressured to adopt political goals. There is no way that state legislatures would improve the funding for managing these lands (note the failure to properly fund the state park system!). This would create an obvious rationalization for selling valuable parcels.

Read the rest of this opinion piece HERE.


14 comments on “Federal lands must not go to the states

  1. You forgot to mention the giant redwoods in California that were cut shouted out to sea to be”processed” and sold back to this country by it Japanese lumber co. I see what the state agenda is versus the federal. Yes,.they will hand over everything that is grazable to the cattle ranching association and once it is depleted or destroyed they will sell it off to the highest bidder regardless who it is these lands mean nothing but an almighty buck to the states who only see the short term benefit from it. I don’t see lacking funds so much a part of the BLM and forestry management of the lands or the wildlife. What I do see is mismanagement of funds and resources testing in total destruction. All kidding aside, all of these agencies are messing up at our expense and there us major corruption in the boards of directors..the ones running the show.


  2. The federal government does not own lands or the wild horses and burros in the West. These are not “state lands” and not “federal lands” and not even “government lands”.
    They are public lands.
    The American people own the public lands in the West and they are supposed to be administered on our behalf by the national government under laws and regulations. These lands and the wild horses and burros belong to all citizens of the United States, not the federal government.


  3. This is a complex issue because states fund programs that support schools and local governments from property taxes and income taxes that are produced from privately owned lands. When large parcels of land are reserved for parks, monuments, wildlife refuges, forests, historic sites, World Heritage Sites, wild and scenic rivers, and other uses, these restrict or eliminate any sort of real income for the states.

    In a perfect world, maybe it makes sense for the federal government to manage these lands. But we do not live in a perfect world, and the world has become much more imperfect due to the fact that the federal government manages a vast system of public lands that have unique variations in the geological features even within states themselves. We’ve focused a lot on climate, but little attention has been places on the geological differences that influence land management. The agricultural sector does focus on this at the state level, but it is hard to see that there is any effort to do this at the federal level because the management is all about false paradigms to achieve political purposes, and because these paradigms are almost polemic opposites of what nature does and how land can be managed to be more productive, I see no evidence to support the idea that the federal government can manage land better than state government.

    I don’t think you’ll see states selling off all public land. They may sell some, but the states themselves have a vested interest in managing their land for productivity. At the state and local level each of us has the opportunity to participate in decision making, and we are not as likely to have to live with decisions that people who do not live and work in our communities make for us. Furthermore, the experts on managing land in our communities are not living in Washington or Nevada. They live here. They know how much Ph is in the soil. They know which kind of grasses do what during the different seasonal variations. They know what plants are toxic to what animals in our area and can help us eliminate those. Someone can come to your property and do a soil analysis and there are local and state requirements that should keep your water cleaner because they are designed with the water systems that make up our aquifers. For example, in our community sprinkler systems are totally separate from drinking water systems.

    The truth to me that the reason our wild horse herds that co-evolved with North American for 57 to 60 million years from the time NA and Europe riffed apart, until humans crossed Beringia 15,000 or more years ago. Although the humans hunted horse, there were far too many horses and far too few human hunting sites where horse bones and tools to harvest and hunt have been found to blame horse extinction on hunting. Early humans found it easier to kill small animals and would move around from area to area to support themselves. Scientists have discussed the possibility that humans in North America may have used horses for agriculture, and thus, the populations may have become fragmented. Meanwhile, there were some horses that crossed Beringia before the last major glacial melt flooded the area around 10,000 years ago preventing any of the species that relied on this low lying grassland to use it for refugium or as a route to Eurasia or Africa. Horse did go to South America after the Isthmus of Panama formed around five million years ago.

    The fact is that as early as December 20, 1973 FWS and its international non-governmental partners The Nature Conservancy and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the IUCN began trying to use the Lacey Act to label non-indigenous wildlife as injurious. They tried two more times, and then, in 1977, President Carter issued E.O. 11987, The Exotic Organisms’s Act, an amendment to the Lacey Act. Most IUCN commentary have affirmed this law as the ideal law, but President Carter did not want it to apply to already established species. So in 1982 IUCN’s newly acquired attorneys decided to draft E.O. 11987 into international law. Ten years later, E.O. 11987 reappeared as UN CBD Article 8 (h) with the word exotic appearing as alien. Although this treaty was never ratified, President Clinton implemented Article 8 (h) through FWS through federal agencies such as the Park Service. This led to NPS’s EIS that resulted in the unnecessary deaths of 76 Colonial Iberian Mustangs, even despite Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick’s statement that the horses were not exotic, and that the NPS’s policies were based on written policies. That was almost 20 years ago.

    The Shackleford Wild Horse Protection Act became law in 1998 and was amended in 2003. In the Congressional Record, Georgia Representative Jack Kingston makes a reference to the NPS’s decision to classify the wild horses at Georgia’s Cumberland island as “invasive” species—and that he will need to keep an eye on this. Meanwhile, in 1997 FWS agrees to allow the Corolla wild horse herd population to 60, a figure the Service knows full well is 90 to140 below the genetically viable number to get an effective population number of 50 healthy females of reproductive age capable of reproducing healthy offspring, and we just sat through two sessions of Congress with no action on this bill in Congress. We don’t have ranchers, but we have the same corrupt agencies with the same corrupt international non-governmental partners. These federal agencies seem to be more loyal to individuals and groups affiliated with the U.N.’s Environmental Program which was also founded in 1973 than they are to federal laws passed by Congress for the American people. And corrupt U.S. politicians have used these global NGO partnerships to get laws like E.O. 11987 out of the U.S. give it a false sense of legitimacy through the U.N. and then implement into federal law. A 2005 letter from the Finnish Agricultural Ministry states that the intent of the 1997 IPPC shares the common narrow purpose of the UN CBD Article 8 (h) which is to prevent, control, and eradicate alien species in states or parts of states where they appear to the extent possible. So the language of regulated quarantined pest is supposed to be synonymous with invasive species. But just to make sure President Clinton or his designee added three reservations to the 97IPPC. The third stated that there was nothing in the treaty to interfere with nations undertaking their own national invasive species program. Of course, in 2000 we didn’t have such a program, but it was in the works through President Clinton’s E.O.11312. The species mentioned to promote this Act as an attack on weeds never mention that the weeds bark, moo, or neigh.

    The irony and deceit are that FWS claims that horses can’t be part of the wildlife refuges system because the WR’s are for native species—they quote Aldo Leopold on the value of native species. NPS, BLM, FS all sing the same false verse to the same discordant song. The EPA labels wild horse contraception as a :”pesticide.” The Smithsonian uses a childish false Ecology of Life to classify species. FWS and HS threaten to arrest people and find them hundreds of thousands of dollars for having wither flora or fauna on their property—none of this hurts the UN, but it destroys American families because most of them do not even know these laws exist.

    I cannot support federal programs run by federal agencies that exist to harm the American people so that someone affiliated with or able to hide behind UNEP’s green mask can profit from what belongs to we the people. It’s hard to get much more corrupt than the federal government already is. I support states deciding how to manage their relationship with the federal government.


  4. Until a few years ago when I posted the original conversation about states being able to retrieve the public lands for private use this wasnt an issue. They didntv realize it was possible however the stipulation was iif the lands we Not in Government regulation then they would revert back after the Civil War only under very specific circumstances. The States are pushing it bc they feel the Government isnt going to read the Civil War agreements for the states. The fact is they should have made claim on the land before they were designated Federal Controlled public lands. They really do not have a leg . To stand on however they will bully away win or lose.


  5. From Western Priorities –add campaign –“keep lands American”http://westernpriorities.org/2015/03/04/release-keep-our-lands-american-video-ad-campaign-launched-across-the-west-2


  6. Public land’s belong the American taxpayer’s and the American public.
    Selling public land’s back individual states would be a desaster.
    This is a slap in the taxpayer’s face.
    Our past President’s would outraged over such a idea.
    Theodore Roosevelt would appalled and others. Public land’s where sat aside for all American’s to treasure, admire and enjoyed and not destoyed for future generations.


  7. And so the argument continues. The bottom line is the public lands belong to All Americans…The sad thing is that some of the people including the Legislators in certain states feel that they can allow the usage by their crony friends. They use the federal lands like pawns while the rest of us fight for the protection of the animals living on the lands. The whole issue is totally out of hand. Its a constant fight against the greedy.


  8. Something that has dragged on and on for far too long, is the the BLM giving priority to cattle ranchers to graze their cows. WHY I don’t understand this. Those ranchers are in their private businesses, and public lands are not for their use, public lands means public lands. It belongs to all wildlife primarily our wild horses, cows should have no right to use those lands. We need clear federal laws to keep the cows off the federal lands. Why should we little people be supporting big cattle ranchers???????


  9. There needs to be a thorough house cleaning from top to bottom.
    The PEOPLE aren’t being represented by state or federal governments, except in a few instances.
    It’s been all about the Money, unless the people exert their power….and they do have the power put a stop to it.

    Committee hears bill on state control of federal land in MT

    Montana is not the only US state out there trying to wrest control of lands managed by the BLM. Utah, Wyoming and Nevada also are looking to do the same. Wild horses – the populations that remain – live on these lands. Nevada in particular has made no secret of buddying up to the cattle ranchers when it comes to their desire to control these federal lands. Better conservation is often promised with these bills, but how can that be achieved when state profit’s are the more lucrative motive? Whether you like the BLM or not, isn’t it better to leave the wild horses in Federal control where there are already laws in place to protect them. Then again, the BLM has not seemed up to the task at hand in a number of different areas. What do you think? ~ HfH

    Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman, brought House Bill 496 before the House Natural Resources Committee on Friday, saying the task force would help answer questions about land management in Montana


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