115th Congress Creates Opportunity for Public Lands Reform
PRESS RELEASE - for immediate release
January 13, 2017
The American Lands Council welcomes the members of the 115th U.S. Congress, who began their legislative session last week in Washington, DC. One of Congress’s first orders of business was to pass changes to its governing and procedural rules in House Resolution 5 (H. Res.5).
The ALC calls attention to a provision within H. Res. 5 that indicates foresight and willingness on the part of the 115th U.S. Congress to consider and hopefully undertake serious reforms to improve how public lands are managed within the U.S.:
“In the One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, for all purposes in the House, a provision in a bill or joint resolution, or in an amendment thereto or a conference report thereon, requiring or authorizing a conveyance of Federal land to a State, local government, or tribal entity shall not be considered as providing new budget authority, decreasing revenues, increasing mandatory spending, or increasing outlays.” (Page 35, H. Res.5, 2017)
Jennifer Fielder, CEO of the American Lands Council, remarked:
"The 115th Congress is off to a great start with this simple change in its procedural rules to facilitate bringing public land management closer to home. It is a refreshing sign of hope for the vast number of Americans who are concerned and outraged about the flagrant disregard by the U.S. federal government when it comes to how federally controlled public lands have been mismanaged on their watch. The balance has tipped too far towards distant, unaccountable bureaucracy and the results have been devastating to our rivers, prairies, forests, and wildlife.
"It is imperative to reverse the increasingly unhealthy, unsafe, inaccessible, and unproductive conditions that characterize federal lands today, and nobody is more eager to improve stewardship than the States where these lands are located. This change in Congressional rules is a step in the right direction for every American who desires a healthy environment, abundant and accessible recreation, and safe, vibrant communities."
Fielder specifically addressed claims that this change in rules amounts to “fiscal irresponsibility”, stating:
"In the past several decades, the U.S. federal government has been increasingly negligent in its public land stewardship, resulting in increased costs, declining revenue streams, and the demise of local communities.
"Just consider, the U.S. Forest Service now is a net drain on the U.S. taxpayer, whereas it formerly made a net contribution to local communities and the U.S. Treasury. Formerly prosperous communities which once thrived have now been reduced to poverty and reliance on federal handouts that amount to nothing more than 'western welfare' subsidized by eastern States."
The American Lands Council (www.americanlandscouncil.org) is comprised of elected officials, resource experts, local governments, nonprofit organizations, public land users and citizens. The ALC seeks constitutionally-sound solutions to achieve responsible public access, environmental health and economic productivity on the federally controlled public lands within each State.