Where do the Presidential Candidates Stand on the Transfer of Public Lands?

With Super Tuesday in our rear view mirror, people all over the nation are asking us, "Where do the presidential candidates stand on the Transfer of Public Lands?" This is a great question, and we encourage each and every one of you to ask it of every candidate who seeks your vote, not matter if it is a local, state, or national position they seek.  

We have attempted to contact the campaign headquarters for each of the front-running presidential candidates to give them an opportunity to learn about our position on this issue.  

Over the past several months, several campaigns have taken time to meet with us to hear our views on why federally controlled public lands should be transferred to willing States. Some have followed up with clear public statements on where they stand. Ted Cruz for example, has given several pointed interviews, and even run television ads, expressing his strong support for turning federally controlled public lands over to the states or the people. Marco Rubio expressed his support for transfer in at least one stump speech that was videotaped by an ALC member. Ben Carson candidly acknowledged in a media interview that the lands should be turned over to the states. Trump initially indicated opposition to the idea, but has since admitted he doesn't know very much about the subject and sent his son to gather more information from the American Lands Council and other western leaders. 

Today, we share with you some of the public statements made by front running presidential candidates who have addressed the Transfer of Public Lands question. If and when Presidential candidates release an official statement on this subject to us, we will publish it. For now we relate information we have gathered from media, voting records, and campaign events...

Ted_Cruz.jpgJust four days ago, Sen. Ted Cruz made a bold statement while being interviewed at Idaho State University, declaring that the federal government should transfer the public lands over to the states. He makes the comparison between the majority of public lands owned by the federal government in the west, compared to the 2% of lands it owns in his home state of Texas. According to Cruz, that is "2% too much". You can watch the interview HERE.

On Feb. 18th, Cruz released a public video, specifically aimed at Nevada voters, stating that if he becomes President, he would "work day and night" to ensure that the public lands of Nevada are turned over to state control, "to its rightful owners...its citizens." 

Cruz has been consistent on this issue. As a U.S. senator from Texas, Ted Cruz voted in favor of an amendment to facilitate the transfer of public lands to the states. In 2014 he also offered an amendment to a bill that would have prohibited the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of the land in any state.


Marco_Rubio.jpgIn 2013, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio supported an amendment to facilitate the transfer of public lands. According to The Ely Times, "He also backed transferring control of federal energy resources to the states. 'This common sense bill will empower states to develop our domestic energy resources responsibly and effectively,' Rubio said. 'Ensuring states have more authority in our nation’s energy development will help keep energy costs low, create jobs and grow our economy.'”

According to the LA Times, Rubio released an energy policy vowing that his administration would "work with Congress to ensure that states and tribes — not the federal government — have the primary role in oversight of energy development within their borders."


Prior to sending his son, Donald Trump Jr., to meet with representatives of The American Lands Council in February, Donald Trump gave an interview to Field and Stream which was published on Jan 21. When asked whether or not he would support the federal government transferring public lands to states. Trump responded, “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land.”

On February 13 the Trump Campaign met with several leaders of The American Lands Council, and on Feb 18th candidate Trump railed against the overreach of federal bureaucracies such as the BLM. According to an article on InvestmentWatchBlog.com,"...the Republican presidential front-runner rails against the “draconian rule” of the Bureau of Land Management and the Obama administration’s “land grab” in the western United States. ‘The BLM controls over 85 percent of the land in Nevada,’ Trump explains. ‘In the rural areas, those who for decades have had access to public lands for ranching, mining, logging and energy development are forced to deal with arbitrary and capricious rules that are influenced by special interests that profit from the D.C. rule-making and who fill the campaign coffers of Washington politicians.’”

Then on February 21st, at a rally in Nevada, while discussing a Ted Cruz ad that suggested Trump preferred federal control over western lands, Trump indicated he didn’t know much about the issue.

Regardless of who you support for President, it is imperative that we help our candidates fully understand the importance of transferring the majority of federally controlled public lands to the States so the land can be better managed in accordance with State and local plans. We need to convey to them that studies show states have already proven capable of managing public lands with greater success than the federal government. And they need to understand that it is fundamentally unfair and unconstitutional for Washington DC to permanently control 30% to 85% of the land in some states while the land in other states is less than 2% federally controlled.   

While it is nice that presidential candidates recognize that federal mismanagement of public lands in the west must be remedied, it is crucial that they also understand the solution is not another Washington DC policy, and our quest for local control is not about selling off our public lands. Instead, our goal is that Congress honor the promises made to all states to relinquish federal control over our lands. We must free the lands from federal bureaucracy so State and local governments can implement responsible steps to ensure healthy air, water and wildlife, abundant outdoor recreation, and safe, vibrant communities.  

We encourage you to contact the campaigns of every candidate and ask them if they fully support the Public Policy Statement of the American Lands Council. Every opportunity to bring this issue up is an opportunity to help restore much-needed balance to land issues in the west.

We welcome all candidates to learn more about this key issue, contact us for more information, and share their official position with our membership. And we encourage each of you and all your friends to become an official member of ALC so we can continue our vital role in educating the public and giving leaders the knowledge and courage to battle for the only solution big enough to ensure better access, better health, AND better productivity through the Transfer of Public Lands (TPL) to willing States. 


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