Grazing rights attorney Karen Budd-Falen’s presentation last Saturday was not exactly an unqualified success . . .
A controversial land-use attorney drew more than 100 protesters and as many supporters to Hamilton Middle School Saturday, but the topic of her talk with county residents was interpreted differently by people attending the event.
Karen Budd-Falen, the Wyoming-based grazing-rights lawyer leading President Donald Trump’s shortlist for Bureau of Land Management director, presented guidelines on land-use planning to Ravalli County residents.
Protesters characterized Budd-Falen as a supporter of privatizing public land, or at least supporting policies proven to lead to land sell-offs.
Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, a Republican representing Thompson Falls, is the new CEO of the American Lands Council. The ALC is one of the point organizations behind the movement to demand that federal lands be turned over to state control. The states, in turn, would auction management of these lands off to private control.
What we have here, folks, is a serious conflict of interest what with her being a legislator involved in public land study/bills and being CEO of a group that wants public lands to be transferred to states. Senator Fielder has already had issues with a legislative staffer being a paid lobbyist of ALC and other groups.
Long-time NFPA member Frank Vitale wrote a pointed op-ed addressing the idea of transferring federal lands to state ownership and control. It appeared today on the Flathead Beacon’s website . . .
On Feb. 16 my wife and I attended the Public Lands Rally in Helena in the state capitol rotunda. The rally began at high noon, but people started filtering through the doors well before that. Many sported posters and banners in support of keeping our federal lands in public hands. As the rally began people continued filing into the room standing shoulder to shoulder. All the hallways, balconies and staircase were packed full.
A few people who supported transferring our federal lands to state ownership infiltrated our rally, but they were drowned out. Folks from all around the state made the trip to Helena and stood in solidarity against the lunatic idea of land transfer. Gov. Steve Bullock along with several guest speakers including Mary Sexton, former head of State Lands and Teton County commissioner, and David Allen, president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, gave fiery speeches against transfer of federal lands to the state. The crowds responded with thundering applause and cheers. Hopefully the state legislators took heed as the State Capitol rocked and rolled.
The land transfer concept is not new. It goes as far back as territorial days and the copper kings. In more recent history, I remember the days of James Watt and the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s and early ’80s. Today it resurfaces with the Koch brothers, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Americans for Prosperity to name a few. They work their dark money in local elections across the country. Their call for local control rings hollow because their agenda is exploitation of the resources on our public lands.
Our public lands belong to all Americans. They’re not for sale to the very wealthy to make huge profits and lock us out. My suggestion to those who support land transfer: pack your bags and move to a place where there are no public lands and access is limited to only those who can afford pay.
Our public lands are a national treasure, a gift to all of us, and the envy of the world.
There is a rally at noon on President’s Day, Monday, February 16, in Helena to protect access to public lands. The immediate trigger for this event is a movement within Montana to give up federal lands to state control. Such a move would mean a sharp increase in the state bureaucracy, a hefty bump in the tax burden and, more than likely, lead to much of the land being sold off to private interests to help finance the whole mess. Everyone from traditional hunting and fishing groups, to motorized recreation outfits to old-line enviros is pretty wound up about this.
Over at the Flathead Beacon, Rob Breeding doesn’t think much of this whole idea of devolving federal lands to state control . . .
If your goal is to destroy hunting there’s a clear path to follow: transfer ownership of federal lands to the states. It might take a couple decades, but if you put that ball in motion this is the inevitable result.
Maybe you think I’m exaggerating? Consider the opportunities federal lands offer hunters. Montana has large accessible tracts all over the state that we can enter, without need to seek permission, or the burden of entrance fees, to hunt.
Now imagine Montana without those resources. Understand that the real impetus behind the “transfer” movement is the eventual privatization of these lands. The states will never be able to afford to manage these properties, and once title is transferred to the state, the pressure to sell some or all of these lands will be overwhelming.
Reminder: As we mentioned here earlier, there is a rally at noon this Saturday, September 27, in Helena to protect access to public lands. The immediate trigger for this event is a movement within Montana to give up federal lands to state control. Such a move would mean a sharp increase in the state bureaucracy, a hefty bump in the tax burden and, more than likely, lead to much of the land being sold off to private interests to help finance the whole mess. Everyone from traditional hunting and fishing groups, to motorized recreation outfits to old-line enviros is pretty wound up about this.
Legislatures, both state and federal, have a long history of giving serious consideration to bad ideas. The latest in the list as far as Montana is concerned is the movement to demand that federal lands be turned over to state control. The states, in turn, would auction management of these lands off to private control.
Yep, that’s right. They’re talking about privatizing your public lands. Someone has been smoking that wacky terbaccy, I guess.
There are several things you can do about this.
Get hold of your local state senator and representative and explain that you really don’t like the idea of giving away to private ownership the lands where you work and recreate.
Read John Gatchell’s excellent “Public Lands in Private Hands?” article. Follow the links and instructions he provides to comment on the spurious land privatization “study” the legislature has posted for public comment. The deadline for comments is September 16.
The Montana Wilderness Association (who has really taken the point on this land privatization issue), along with a bunch of other organizations, is holding a rally in Helena on September 27, which just happens to be both National Public Lands Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day. Show up and help folks explain to our legislature that giving away our public lands to private concerns is a Really Bad Idea. For more information, see the National Public Lands Day Rally Facebook page.