So far 2017 hasn’t been a great year for those who want to transfer federal public lands to the states, beginning an inevitable process of turning these public lands over to private hands.
That may seem counter intuitive as the anti-public lands crowd is on the ascendancy politically. Sometimes in politics, however, it’s better to have an issue you can use to rally supporters and fuel fundraising campaigns, rather than be in a position to enact policy to change the situation you’ve been railing against.
So it goes for the opponents of public lands. After the 2016 election they seemed closer than ever to their goal. What these politicians don’t seem to get is the people they represent do not share their anti-public land zealotry.
There may be a bit of political buyers’ remorse here.
Jimmy Tobias, currently an environmental reporter and, for three summers, a trail crew worker in this corner of the country, has a strongly worded op-ed in the New York Times regarding public lands transfer . . .
The Senate’s confirmation this week of the former Montana congressman Ryan Zinke as secretary of the interior has revived concerns about the future of public lands in the Trump administration. While Mr. Zinke has branded himself as a Teddy Roosevelt-style conservationist — and resigned as a delegate to the Republican National Convention last year to protest the party’s support for transferring federal lands to states or private groups — his record is spotty…
My generation and those that follow have much at stake in this battle. We stand to lose our ability to hike and camp, to bike and boat, to hunt and fish and explore freely in these superlative places. We also stand to lose the opportunities for meaningful work, civic engagement and spiritual fulfillment that our public lands provide…
Over at the Flathead Beacon, Tristan Scott has a lengthy, well-researched article on the public lands debate.
Recommended reading . . .
On Jan. 30, a lively crowd of more than 1,000 public land advocates packed the Capitol rotunda floor, lining the balconies of the statehouse in Helena while chanting, “Keep public lands in public hands,” and waving signs denouncing the sale of “Our American Heritage.”
Conrad Anker, the famous mountaineer who has summited Mount Everest three times and who lives in Bozeman, raised his chin and literally howled at the high-domed ceiling, invoking the wild heritage of Montana’s outdoors and calling on attendees to protect public land while holding their lawmakers accountable. “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children,” he said, paraphrasing Duwamish Chief Seattle.
Fly-fishing guide and Trout TV host Hilary Hutcheson, who grew up in Columbia Falls and is raising her daughters under the banner of Glacier National Park’s peak-studded boundary, said the quality of her family’s outdoor environment is critically linked to their livelihood.
An excellent article from the Washington Post. Thanks to Walter Roberts for spotting this one . . .
A change in U.S. House rules making it easier to transfer millions of acres of federal public lands to states is worrying hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the West who fear losing access.
Lawmakers earlier this month passed a rule eliminating a significant budget hurdle and written so broadly that it includes national parks.
President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Interior secretary, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, voted for the rule change as did many other Republicans. The Senate would have to weigh in on public land transfers as well.