Tea Party Wave Washes Up ‘Anti-Parks Caucus’ In Congress

A group of 20 senators and representatives has formed a de facto “anti-parks caucus” in Congress and is waging the most significant legislative and ideological challenge to America’s national parks in decades, says a new report by the Center for American Progress. The analysis finds that this anti-parks caucus is composed of less than five percent of Congress but is responsible for introducing dozens of bills to block the creation of new national parks, end America’s most effective parks program, and sell off public lands.

Eight anti-parks caucus members also participate in the Federal Land Action Group, a group formed last year with the sole purpose of developing land grab legislation that would transfer federal land to state and local control.

“Public land grab efforts almost never rise up from local communities,” according to Jim Caswell, BLM director under President George W. Bush. “They are instead galvanized by partisan politics, mainly at the national level, where the real agenda is wresting public lands from public hands and ultimately privatizing them for nonpublic uses.”

Such partisan politics ring true with the 20-member anti-parks caucus which includes Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Meanwhile, the National Park Service is poised to kick off National Park Week (April 16 to 24) as part of this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the agency’s creation. Three out every four registered voters believe that the United States benefits from the National Park system a “fair amount” or a “great deal,” according to polling conducted by Hart Research Associates in January 2016. Furthermore, 83 percent of Americans say they would have a “favorable” reaction to their representative in Congress taking “a strong stand in support of policies to protect and strengthen national parks.”

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