Senate Votes in Favor of Public Lands Seizure

Drawing Criticism from Sportsmen Budget amendment enabling sale, transfer of federal public lands passed yesterday in a 51-49 Senate vote

Public Lands
Public Lands
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

Missoula, MT -( Following a flurry of votes during last night's budget deliberations in the U.S. Senate, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers sharply criticized the passage of a measure that would enable the sale or transfer of federal public lands, including national forests, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges and other places relied up by sportsmen and outdoor recreationists.

SA 838, introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and passed in a 51-49 vote, would support and fund state efforts to take possession of federal public lands.

“Public lands are the fabric that binds America together, and last night's vote by the Senate sends an alarming message to sportsmen and -women – along with every citizen who values our publicly owned resources,” said BHA Executive Director Land Tawney. “Nationally, an organized, concerted movement is underway to sell off and limit access to America's public lands and waters. These are not merely the actions of a lunatic fringe. Now is the time to double down and fight back against this ill-conceived idea.”

While SA 838 was strongly opposed by some Western senators, the final tally of votes was not without surprises. Sen. Susan Collins changed her vote at the 11th hour to pass SA 838. Another noteworthy “yes” vote came from Sen. Steve Daines, who just last month tweeted during a speech to the Montana legislature, “We must stand firm against any efforts to sell our public lands.”

“Sportsmen offer thanks to Senate members who stood firm against this shortsighted proposal,” continued Tawney. “Senators Corey Gardner, Kelly Ayotte and Lamar Alexander, along with many of their senate colleagues, voted against SA 838 and demonstrated their support of our American public lands. We look forward to working with them to maintain open access and continued public ownership of these irreplaceable public resources.”

Another measure focused on public lands failed to get a vote during the Senate's “vote-a-rama.” SA 1024, introduced by Sen. Martin Heinrich, was intended to quash ongoing efforts by some interests to sell federal public lands and waters as a budget-tightening measure.

“While we are disappointed it was never offered a vote, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks Senator Heinrich for acting in the interests of American sportsmen by introducing this measure,” concluded Tawney. “Our hunting and angling traditions are steeped in our public lands that serve as the scenic backdrop for our most treasured memories. Thoughtful actions like Senator Heinrich's hold the key to upholding these opportunities for our kids and grandkids to enjoy.”

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen's voice for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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  • 12 thoughts on “Senate Votes in Favor of Public Lands Seizure

    1. Hi Idiots!!!

      Do you know what is going to be done with you and your children after the US Constitution is nullified?
      There are not going to be concentration camps in America. There will be CAN-SEND-RATION camps.
      After the the selloff of these assets and the collapse of the dollar and end of democracy, you will be liquidated and sold to the Chinese as potted meat. That’s right.

      Think you weekend warriors can stave of the Red Army with a truckload of AR15s? Think again. Think attack helicopters.

      The US elite will be snug in the underground facilities while the TV zombies are slaughtered.

      Did I mention zombies? How you ever noticed (I AM SURE YOU HAVE NOT!!!) that these zombie movies resemble a mass of hungry sick people being mowed down and having their heads blown off?
      Those movies are conditioning the only people who will be left with guns, the toady henchmen of the 1% and mercenaries. Those movies make it clear how necessary fun it will be to liquidate the masses.

      But, don’t fret. The meat won’t be wasted while your forests are stripped bare.

    2. In 2012 the fires that burned in Idaho cost 212 million dollars. Where would Idaho or another state come up with the revenues to cover the cost? If increased taxes will not cover the deficit , then the a sell of public lands will do the job; and when we picnic on what used to be public lands we can stop at the no trespassing signs. We can tell our children and our grandchildren of what used to be. We can tell them how we allowed the sell of OUR PUBLIC LAND to the 1%.

    3. Without the Feds taking control of Yosemite from California it would not be nearly the treasure it is now. Thank you to John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt!

    4. Why wasn’t Ammoland honest enough to point out that all but 3 Republicans voted for this bill, while all the Democrats voted against it?

    5. As an avid hunter and angler, I spend a ton of time in the backcountry of Colorado. This legislation scares the piss out of me. If the Amendment were worded with some caveats, as Tommy O. suggests, I might feel better, but here is the EXACT verbiage, directly from the transcript from: Note there is no mention of any limitation on what the states can do once they aquire this land via sale,transfer, or exchange. Nothing stipulates what the states can or cannot do.. The ONLY lands protected are National Parks, National Monuments, or National Preserves. No mention of protecting wilderness areas, or any other land. It is all up for grabs except what is specifically called out…

      Amendment No. 838

      (Purpose: To establish a spending-neutral reserve fund relating to the
      disposal of certain Federal land)

      At the appropriate place, insert the following:


      The Chairman of the Committee on the Budget of the Senate
      may revise the allocations of a committee or committees,
      aggregates, and other appropriate levels in this

      [[Page S1884]]

      resolution for one or more bills, joint resolutions,
      amendments, amendments between the Houses, motions, or
      conference reports relating to initiatives to sell or
      transfer to, or exchange with, a State or local government
      any Federal land that is not within the boundaries of a
      National Park, National Preserve, or National Monument, by
      the amounts provided in such legislation for those purposes,
      provided that such legislation would not raise new revenue
      and would not increase the deficit over either the period of
      the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2020 or the period of
      the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2025.

    6. You’ve got to be kidding. Have you taken a look at the comparison between state and federal public land management? Do you hunt on state or federal lands – most state lands look like industrial timberlands or pocket parks? Exactly how much backcountry do you see managed by states? Virtually none – so much for experience. States manage lands to maximize profit not to manage for long term sustainability of anything, particularly of wildlife. And where do you think the money is going to come from to manage lands that transfer from federal ownership to state? I urge you to really study the economics of this – states are getting a huge bargain by having the feds manage public lands. Are states going to pay for fire management and fighting wildfires? Oh really?
      The feds have an $8.5 billion dollar backlog on road maintenance. Are the states going to pick that up too along with abandoned mine reclamation, trails management, municipal watershed management? If the states do pick those up, they are going to charge state residents through the nose to pay for these services that we get “for free” right now.
      Please study the actual history before you make unfounded assertions. First of all, ‘we’ took all these lands from Native Americans. If anyone has a right to them without charge, they do. But given that that isn’t going to happen anytime soon… The feds took over public lands because either no one wanted them (eastern states) because they were ravaged by poor agriculture and forestry practices when in private hands (read The Lands No One Wanted by Sheely & Healy). Or in the case of Western states, were either too difficult to homestead or being exploited by corporations. People were begging for the feds to help them so the feds could manage fire, ensure clean water and provide for sustainable timber and wildlife populations and protect states from corporate interests that were robbing them blind. (read The Big Burn or Lasso the Wind both by Tim Eagan or Conspiracy of Optimism by Paul Hirt). There are scores of books on the subject of public land history. If you want to go back in time, better read up on what you’re really asking for.
      As far as Daines, take a look at HB 5126 that he so strongly supported last session. If you want your wildlife decimated by mandated timber harvest with no environmental protection, then keep supporting these crazy bills.

      1. So right. Washington State’s lands managed by DNR are primarily managed to produce revenue and things like wildlife and recreation are after-thoughts. The Forest Service has a more holistic view of the benefits of public lands to the public.

    7. The states should take back their lands that were appropriated by the feds. They should not have to buy them from the feds. These lands rightfully belong to the states. In many of the western states the feds just took over a large percentage of the land. Those lands rightfully belong to the people of the state’s, not to the feds and bureaucrats.

      1. Absolutely correct.

        The only land that should belong to the feds are areas like Washington DC and military bases that can’t be under the jurisdiction of any state. Just about all other land should be controlled by the state in which it is located.

        The feds control of all this land is just another example of the federal government exceeding its’ authority.

    8. Good for Steve Daines!!!! I do not know all the details concerning the legislation just passed what I do know is that the states can do an infinitely better job in administering the lands currently mis-managed by the feds. We have rotting, dead forests which contribute to truly superior air quality during the warm months when they are burning. I love the fragrance of burning forests and having the air look like fog for the summer – it really helps my lungs, eyes and who knows what else. Here in Montana many of us want the feds out and the lands given over to the DNR for management. Specifically in the legislation proposed here there is no mention of the feds giving over national parks OR wilderness only forest service and BLM lands. On top of that there is a caveat that NONE can be sold off to private actors. So what is the problem. Do you pro fed people TRUST the feds to keep the land for your use? I am just waiting for them to eliminate hunting on federal lands but they haven’t the guts to do it – yet!!!!

      1. Right on Tommy – You state “the states can do an infinitely better job in administering the lands currently mis-managed by the feds”. You are RIGHT! Feds mis-manage the land and give us hugh fires, fires and close road after road, meanwhile spend tax money like a drunken sailor. Time for them to go back to DC.

      2. How will states pay for the management of huge sections of public land? By raising revenues – higher license fees, much higher grazing fees, higher timber fees and greater regulation to enforce all uses related to revenue. This state ownership notion is impractical.

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