The federal ownership of land has come to the forefront of national debate ever since the Bureau of Land Management decided they were going to flex their muscles in Nevada and try to kick a long-time rancher off of public lands.
The land grab has lawmakers questioning whether or not what the BLM is doing has been legal or not, with others wondering if the federal government should even own property to begin with.
The West is largely owned by the federal government, with up to 80% of some states not being theirs. Leaked documents from 2010 outline how it plans to take even more land from states under various congressional acts.
Utah Congressman Rob Bishop outlined how the BLM plans to use whatever means necessary in order to scoop up as much land as possible. On his website he posted the following:
Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, today announced that he recently obtained the preceding 14 pages previously missing from an internal Department of Interior (DOI) memo leaked last February. The original document obtained in February by Bishop detailed planning within the DOI to use the Antiquities Act to potentially designate up to 13 million acres throughout the West as new national monuments. The newly obtained 14 pages further detail plans within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to completely overhaul the way federal lands are managed in the U.S., including the creation of new ecosystem areas that require the acquisition of new federal lands. The plans would vastly expand the power, reach and control of federal land managers.
“These 14 pages are further evidence of this Administration’s efforts, under the guidance of Secretary Salazar, to control western lands by unilaterally locking them up without input from local residents and stakeholders nor the approval of Congress. Their plotting behind closed doors is disingenuous at best and flies in the face of this Administration’s so-called ‘transparency’,” said Congressman Bishop. “Thousands of westerners whose livelihoods depend upon access to our public lands stand to be affected by these decisions and yet this document blatantly goes out of its way to exclude their input or participation. If there was any question about whether or not this Administration has declared a war on the West, these new documents are evidence enough.”
“The reality is that this is NOT the complete set of documents pertaining to the Administration’s plans to overhaul the way public lands are managed in this country. We know that other documents like this are out there. We’ve requested them, but the folks at Interior continue to stonewall,” Bishop added. “My biggest concern is that if they’re willing to let documents this damning out from their safekeeping, they are surely protecting others that are far worse and even more revealing.”
He then explains how he’s sent several requests to the DOI and its several divisions. He inquired about how the secretary of the DOI, Ken Salazar, is planning to designate new national monuments throughout the West and those inquiries went unanswered.
“I remain committed to forcing Secretary Salazar and all others involved in this matter into the light of full transparency, which as these documents prove, is not a place they seem to be comfortable,” Bishop concluded.“But this potential land and power grab needs to exposed, it needs to be laid out before the public, and it needs to be stopped.”
From there he lists the troubling findings he’s come across, that should strike fear into anybody.
Page 3, paragraph 6: The sentence, “In order to expand this network of treasured lands to include the diversity of landscapes currently managed by the BLM…,” shows that the Administration is working to broaden the jurisdictional scope of lands currently managed by the BLM.
Page 5, paragraph 5: The sentence, “Should the legislative process not prove fruitful, or if a nationally significant natural or cultural land resource were to come under threat of imminent harm, the BLM would recommend that the Administration consider using the Antiquities Act…,” shows that the Administration is constructing a new management structure without the approval of Congress.
Page 7, paragraph 1; Page 6, paragraph 7: By their own numbers, the Administration will target the “acute” problem of private landholdings in BLM administered areas to the sum of 412,675 acres, or more than 370,000 football fields.
Page 9, paragraph 5: The sentence, “The BLM recommends that any major funding increases be phased in over a five-year period to allow the BLM time to build capacity in order to accomplish the increased work-load,” shows that the BLM will require an increase in funding to accommodate the proposed expanded management of lands throughout the West.
There’s no doubt that the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of land ownership and shouldn’t be scooping up even more land through questionable practices, using obscure regulations to do so. The land within our borders is rightfully the property of We The People and as such any land held by the federal government should be released to the states to do with it what they will. The federal government has become too intrusive as it is, and these land grabs do nothing but increase its power over those it’s supposed to serve.