House Moves On Bills That Would Allow States To Seize Millions Of Acres Of Public Lands

Less than two weeks after the arrest of Cliven Bundy and the armed militants who were occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider three bills that would dispose of vast stretches of national forests and other public lands across the country.

The bills, which will be heard in a meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee on February 24, 2016, represent an escalation of the political battle being waged by the Koch brothers’ political network, anti-government extremist groups, and a small group of conservative politicians led by the committee’s chairman, U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT).

The first bill, introduced by Representative Don Young from Alaska (R), would allow any state to seize control and ownership of up to 2 million acres of national forests within its borders — an area nearly the size of Yellowstone National Park. A state would then be able to auction off the lands to private ownership or for mining, logging, and drilling.

The second bill, written by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), would give states and counties the right to take direct control of up to 4 million acres of national forests across the country for clear-cut logging, without regard to environmental laws and protections.

A third bill, written by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), would turn over what the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance estimates to be 6,000 miles of road right-of-ways on U.S. public lands to counties in Utah, opening the door for road construction and development in protected wilderness areas.

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If you value outdoor recreation like hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, boating, hunting, fishing, rock climbing and horseback riding you better make your opinions known to your Congressional representatives, and you most definitely must vote in this year’s national election. Otherwise, the timber and oil corporations will own the national forests. Your recreation will be the last thing on their mind. Additionally, if you want your kids to have clean drinking water in the future the national forests are your best protection, not oil wells and fracking towers.


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