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Jennifer Erickson

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  • commented on Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Reveals Their Radical Side 2017-02-06 00:12:14 -0700
    Tuesday 31 January 2017

    A new bill introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Republican from Utah, would dispose of 3.3 million acres of America’s shared national public lands. Lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming would be affected. The bill comes days after the House passed a rules package that makes such land seizure plans easier to execute. Explaining the new bill on his website, Rep. Chaffetz claimed that the 3.3m acres of national land, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), served “no purpose for taxpayers”.

    The federal land that these 10 states lose would be set aside for mixed use: oil, gas and timber.

    This land is currently open to campers, cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts as well as providing corridors for gray wolves and grizzly bears, and winter pasture for big game species, such as elk, pronghorn and big-horned sheep.

    Jason Amaro, who represents the south-west chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, describes the move as a land grab.

    “Last I checked, hunters and fishermen were taxpayers,” said Amaro, who lives in a New Mexico county where 70,000 acres of federal lands are singled out. In total, his state, which sees $650m in economic activity from hunting and fishing, stands to lose 800,000 acres of BLM land, or more than the state of Rhode Island.

    “That word ‘disposal’ is scary. It’s not ‘disposable’ for an outdoorsman,” Jason Amaro said.

    Scott Groene, a Utah conservationist, said the state’s elected officials were trying to “seize public lands any way they can”, without providing Americans a chance to weigh in. If residents knew their local BLM land was being threatened, said Groene, “I’m sure the communities would be shocked”.

    A representative for the interior department, Mike Pool, who weighed in on a version of the bill in 2011, said selling those 3.3m acres “would be unlikely to generate revenue”.

    A Republican conservation group in Utah likened it at the time to “selling the house to pay the light bill”.

    Perhaps the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers wasn’t spreading false narratives such as: public lands transfer will result in sell-off and privatization of public lands