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No to Federal Land Transfers

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For most of you, the issue of western public lands is probably not as important as the other horrors that is the Republican policy agenda. But for a westerner, this stuff is exceedingly important, whether you are a hiker or you are Cliven Bundy. Jason Chaffetz, the most principled man in Washington except for all the others, and his buddies want to transfer millions of acres of western lands over to the states, which would lead to both far more limited public access and vastly more industrial development. But this was a bridge too far for westerners and Chaffetz has been forced to shelve it, for now at least.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) withdrew legislation Thursday that would have transferred 3 million acres of land from federal to state ownership, citing objections from constituents who complained that the move would limit access to public hunting and fishing grounds.

The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which would have shifted federal holdings to state governments in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming, prompted an outcry among hunters and anglers’ groups. Introduced three weeks after House Republicans enacted a rule change to make it easier to sell off federal land, the measure prompted two separate rallies in Santa Fe, N.M., and Helena, Mont., this week that drew hundreds of people opposed to the measure.

A wide array of outdoors groups praised the move.

Aaron Kindle, Western sportsmen’s campaign manager for the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement that his group appreciates “that Mr. Chaffetz listened” to those opposed to the bill.

“This loss would have forever robbed the American people of the amazing bounty these and all public lands provide,” Kindle said. “Another good move would be to withdraw the recently approved House rule that devalues public lands and makes them easier to dispose of.”

Katie McKalip, communications director for the Montana-based Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said in an email that its members and others “have sent a clear message, in no uncertain terms, that Americans greatly value our nation’s public lands and waters and that we will not tolerate actions by our elected officials that diminish them.”

Not sure I would praise him at all, although I get the need to do that publicly. It’s going to take continued pressure from westerners to stop this because Chaffetz and his merry band of Bundyites want this really bad.

Good win for now though.

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