Article first appeared at The Washington Standard.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has withdrawn legislation that would have upheld his oath of office and the Constitution by returning land back to the people from the usurpation of the central government and the Bureau of Land Management, apparently under pressure from “groups” he “supports” believing that it “sends the wrong message.”
Chaffetz’s legislation was introduced in January and called on the Department of Interior to either dispose of or sell 3.3 million acres of “public lands.”
However, it appears that he is facing pressure from conservationist groups who claim the legislation “sends the wrong message.”
“I’m a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands,” Chaffetz posted. “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.”
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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
According to The Washington Post, “The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which would have shifted federal holdings to state governments in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming, prompted an outcry among hunters and anglers’ groups. Introduced three weeks after House Republicans enacted a rule change to make it easier to sell off federal land, the measure prompted two separate rallies in Santa Fe, N.M., and Helena, Mont., this week that drew hundreds of people opposed to the measure.”
The Salt Lake Tribune reports:
The legislation details swaths of Bureau of Land Management acreage over 10 Western states cited in a 1997 Clinton administration report as not otherwise set aside for oil, gas or mineral extraction, listed for wilderness protection or designated for Native American groups. That includes 132,931 acres in Utah.
The findings, though, note that some of the lands identified may have other conflicts, including disposal costs, the existence of cultural resources or hazardous conditions. The study was requested by Congress at the time as part of an exchange plan to restore the Florida Everglades.
Chaffetz has introduced the bill every year since 2010, but it has never passed or gone forward to a committee hearing. The legislation accords with other Republican efforts in Utah to take control public lands, which account for about two-thirds of the state’s area.
“While there are national treasures worthy of federal protection, there are lands that should be returned to private ownership,” Chaffetz said in 2011.
The move to drop the legislation, though, was lauded by public lands conservation groups.
Chris Saeger, director of Western Values Project, said Chaffetz deserves thanks for withdrawing the “irresponsible bill.”
“If he values public lands enough to abandon this plan,” Saeger said in a prepared statement, “he should refrain from interfering with the land protected by President Obama’s Bears Ears monument.”
That step is not likely. Chaffetz has been a staunch opponent of the December monument designation in San Juan County, calling it “a slap in the face to the people of Utah.”
Of course, it’s a slap in the face of the people of Utah Congressman! However, it’s a bigger slap in the face that the central government “owns” a ton of land it never acquired per the Constitution, through state legislatures! Yet, you claim your legislation “sends the wrong message.” However, you never tell us what that message is. Is it that the DC government should not own or manage that land? That is the right message, Sir! Is it that some people who support you want the Constitution violated concerning “public land,” something that the Constitution clearly limits?
Does this map look like Constitutional limits on “public land,” Mr. Chaffetz?
From what I can see, so-called “conservatives” are ok with this kind of lawlessness when it benefits them. Alex Robinson of Outdoor Life elaborated on conservationists and hunting groups having concerns that selling off small portions of land to private interests could cut off public access to national forests for hunter or campers.
Well, again, where is that in the Constitution, friends? If you want land to hunt on, get a friend that has the land and ask to hunt, or buy property!
I know what some are saying, “Tim, it’s not that simple.” Oh yes, it is. It’s as simple as the central government coming in and in one quick swoop usurping constitutional authority, growing government to enforce that usurpation and even threatening and imprisoning those who would seek to correct the injustice.
Thanks for nothing on this one Congressman Chaffetz.