There was a lot of buzz lately about a bill introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah which boiled down to the selling off of public lands. HR 621 was introduced to authorize the federal government to sell off lands “that have no use or purpose”. I find it interesting that the government can’t find a viable use or purpose for the land but they’ll be able to sell it easily. The good news is the outcry against selling off property owned by every American was so strong the representative who introduced the bill promised to kill it via an Instagram post.
I am withdrawing HR 621. I’m a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands. The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands Pres. Clinton identified as serving no public purpose but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message. The bill was originally introduced several years ago. I look forward to working with you. I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow. #keepitpublic #tbt
However he’s been strangely silent on the bill he introduced in tandem which is HR 622, subtitled “Local Law Enforcement for Local Lands”. In short, he proposes the removal of all Federal Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) personnel from the ranks of the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. In return, the government would provide grants to fund state level law enforcement to fill in and enforce federal law on those lands.
While on the surface there’s a lot this bill proposes that I wish the government would take to heart. Handing down power to local government and reducing the needless overhead sounds like a square plan, but in this situation it just doesn’t make sense. Police departments at every level around the country are already having staffing problems. If you add on top of that the need to enforce many federal regulations regarding public land you have the makings of a disaster, that could be further exploited in the future for another land sell off.
Because these lands are for “the benefit and enjoyment of the people”, which means all of the people in these United States. It is the Federal Government’s job to protect and care for these lands that transcend not just a single state’s ownership but belongs to the entire country. If those lands fell into lawlessness and vandalism, at some point there would be a push to privatize and monetize those lands which means it’s no longer ours but a corporations. This view might be a little extreme, but measures like this have to be fought to prevent further erosion of our rights down the road.
If you would like to take action, the Backcountry Hunters Association has a great tool for writing your local representative as well as other positions in the government. Reach out and push back to make your voice heard.