One the first day of the new session the House of representatives passed, House Res. 5, a new rule (look at page 35) that makes the conveyance of federal lands easier. Congress hasn’t worked this fast and furious in the last eight years. “Previously, when Congress wanted to transfer public lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or other federal agency, the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ research arm, calculated the cost to the U.S. Treasury by computing what revenues the lands provide over 10 years, such as grazing fees or oil and gas royalties. Under House rules, before a bill approving a transfer could be adopted, budget cuts would have to be made in other federal programs equal to the value of that land. The rules change eliminates that budgetary barrier to land transfer bills”(High Country News).
Now enter Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) who introduced a bill that identifies 3.3 million acres across 10 states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming to be ‘disposed of‘. The purpose stated is to reduce the federal deficit (The Wilderness Society). As of 1/27/2017, the text of the bill has not been received. Check here to see how your representative voted. For those in Oklahoma, I can assure you that Jim Bridenstien (918.935.3222) voted yes, and Markwayne Mullin, Mr. Native American by card only (NABCO) (918.423.5951) voted yea for the bill. Markwayne Mullin has previously said he wanted all Indian lands to be privatized. Call them and voice your disapproval.
These public lands are of value not only to us humans, but to all wildlife. Our wildlife are losing suitable habitat at the rate of My guess is they want to drain, dredge, drill and mine our wilderness. Habitat loss is the primary threat to the survival our wildlife in the United States (National Wildlife Federation). We are currently living in the sixth great extinction and habitat loss to agriculture, development, mining and oil and gas drilling is at an all time high. Not only is climate change warming up and changing the landscape, but human activity is adversely impacting the fragmented wildlands we have remaining. The worst thing that could happen for our wildlands, which is much of the land in federal status, and the wildlife that survive only because it’s in quasi protected by the federal status is to transfer that land to states.
This land is our land. This land is the wildlife’s land, habitat and home. If we do not want our federal lands drained, dredged, mined and drilled until the forests are denuded and the streams run red with mining waste we must fight them. We must stop them. Start calling your representatives. And march. And protest. Raise your voice-Raise your fist. This is our land and they are stealing it.