House of Representatives Passes Land Provision; Sportsmen Push Back

U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. House of Representatives
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

WASHINGTON -( The 115th Congress capped its first day late Tuesday with a vote to give away America’s public lands and waters, recalculating the costs of public lands transfers and easing current restrictions for shifting their oversight to individual states or private interests.

Passed largely along party lines by the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a rules package, the provision would designate any transfer legislation “budget neutral,” eliminating existing safeguards against undervaluing public lands, disregarding any revenue or economic benefits currently generated and paving the way for quick and discreet giveaways of valuable lands and waters – including national forests, wildlife refuges and BLM lands – historically owned by the American people.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers decried the measure, introduced by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, and strongly criticized House members who voted in support of it.

“As the 115th Congress enters its first week, some of our elected officials are wasting no time in paving the way to steal our outdoor heritage,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “Buried in a litany of other measures is language inserted by Congressman Bishop that would make it easier to give away America’s public lands. For sportsmen, this provision sticks out like a sore thumb. If it’s a fight they want, they’ve got one coming – and I’m betting on public lands hunters and anglers.”

Currently the Congressional Budget Office provides estimates of the costs of proposed public lands transfers by evaluating the economic impacts of existing uses such as energy development and logging.

Multiple studies show that individual states are ill-equipped to shoulder the costs of managing lands currently owned by the public and, if they took ownership of these lands, would ultimately be forced to sell them to private interests.

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


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  • 19 thoughts on “House of Representatives Passes Land Provision; Sportsmen Push Back

    1. if the ONLY thing this bill did was to disarm all the FedGov agents roaming about in the West playing rogue cop and harrassing citizens, it would be a good start.

      I am convinced all the armed FedGov agtents are the “civilian army” the kinyun said we need to have….. how many thousands of firearms and billions of rounds do all these goons have? on OUR nickel?

    2. Another thing that is not being told here is that there are no property taxes paid on the vast pieces of land. States suffer the consequences of “Government owned lands.” If I bought a piece of property I would get a loan or spend my own money to buy the property. The govt. has no money that belongs to them. All they have is tax revenue dollars. Therefore, they are spending our money to do something they are, Constitutionally, not able to do then they spend millions of our dollars to police these vast partials of land. Looks to me like we have been taken to the cleaners again. Too much government that is too powerful.

    3. Face it ; The Feds NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to own ANY LAND in ANY STATE except that required for Federal Government offices and FORTS. They should be required to turn over ALL lands to the various states and that includes the everything Obama grabbed through illegal eo’s.

    4. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers hopes to give a voice to the silent wilderness. It’s not unlike most other conservation organizations and I doubt that many hunters and fishermen are activists on their behalf. Kumbaya isn’t the hunter’s song. But the point here is the federal government has no business owning such colossal expanses of land. Any land transferred to the states should be accompanied with human and economic resources used by any federal agency to oversee it. One glance at a WaPo map (since this cannot be edited, I can only hope the link works) reveals how expansive it is and little additional justification is needed to make the case.

      By weaponizing the EPA, BLM, DOE, IRS, et al., federal government leftists hope to add even more land to its portfolio. The latest grab is acreage along three counties on the south bank of the Red River. Bottom line, the federal government should at most own national parks and monuments. Any lands that seem illegitimate classified as parks or monuments should undergo a congressional review with the aim of returning it to the states.

      1. No not even national parks and especially not monumants. I know a few of them and Fed power is stupidly abused, to the serious hurt of locals and long term users. End ALL FedGov land ownership.

    5. There is an interesting constitutional issue involved here that no one is talking about, but it underlies the problems that arose with the BLM and the Bundy ranch and Malfleur Refuge standoffs, so it SHOULD be discussed.
      To begin with, our Constitution is quite specific about the purposes for which our federal govt can own land. Essentially, they can own land in Washington DC for the seat of govt, and elsewhere for postal roads and facilities, or for military facilities. That’s IT. So, in fact, the BLM, the National Forest System, and the National Park Service, are all unconstitutional agencies, administering land that should technically belong to the states. True, these systems and agencies were created by laws, but they are clearly unconstitutional laws, they’ve just never been ruled on by the SCOTUS. Full disclosure here; I personally LIKE the National Park System, am ambivalent about the National Forest System, and oppose the BLM controlling so-called BLM lands. Nevertheless, they are all disallowed under our Constitution. The only appropriate course of action to create govt ownership/administration of these lands would be a Constitutional Amendment, which has never even been proposed. The usual argument, which is being made here once again, by the Backcountry Hunters organization, is that the states may not be financially able to administer these lands. That may be true, although the federal govt makes huge amounts of money from doing so, which tends to cast some doubt on the argument. However, if it IS true that the states involved can’t afford to administer the lands, then the more legally appropriate course of action would be for the federal govt to give the sates money to help them defray the costs of doing so – NOT illegally take over the land for the federal govt.
      The lands were generally administered by the federal govt when the areas involved were US Territories, and that is fine. However, once the area became part of a state, the lands should have immediately come under the state’s (or the county’s) ownership. This keeps its management within the purview of the local govt, which is where the Founders believed most govt management belonged, and it is still owned by “The People,” a phrase that does NOT necessarily mean ALL the people in the country (ie, the federal govt). Consider the 10th Amendment’s reference to all other powers belonging “to the state or the people,” INSTEAD of the federal govt.
      So, what would I recommend? Personally, I’d endorse a Constitutional Amendment to create a National Park Service and allow the federal govt to purchase and administer those lands, with each purchase requiring congressional approval, as well as the approval to the state in which the land is located (right now the POTUS can, and Obama does, simply annex any land he wants as a National Monument or Park with no oversight or approval required). I would abolish the BLM entirely and give all land under its control to the counties within which it lies, (and I would consider federal subsidies to help the state/county administer those lands, especially at first), and I would seek a national discussion about the future of the National Forests – in general, though, I think those lands probably should also be given back to the states (again with federal financial assistance at first, if needed).
      The idea, endorsed by the Backcountry Hunters organization, that these lands are better managed by the federal govt, just doesn’t hold water. If you’ve ever been to a state park, you know that states can manage park land just as well as the feds (who generally do a poor job of efficiently administering ANYTHING). The idea that undeveloped land should be held in trust for “all the people” is also fraught with problems. The states can, and do, hold land for the use of the public too. I can see a possible special case for particular national treasures like Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Arches, etc. which might warrant national ownership and administration, but as I said, that would require a Constitutional Amendment (which I think would pass without undue difficulty anyway).

      1. @old So if the Feds called the lands forts then Federal ownership would be legal. And the agencies would become Fort Custodian Agencies. And the park rangers would become Fort Rangers.

      2. In my opinion, the only way to amend the Constitution these days is through the Convention of State Legislatures now meeting and growing. They’re choosing potential amendments and this might be a good one.

      3. I believe you are not completely correct. please watch and listen to Randy Newbergs video on the subject. The states will have to take this land from my dead hands.

    6. I am somewhat of a mixed opinion as to whether it would be better to transfer control at the state level, where state based sportsmen, outdoors, hunting, fishing, and firearms organizations would have more influence, or to leave it in the hands of the federal government. The argument seems to be, that local governments are more apt to be under pressure from developers to sell off or commit the land to other than sporting uses. Of course, the federal government is not immune to the influences of lobbyists , and they have a record of mismanagement of lands under their stewardship that stretches back more than a century.

      1. local government will be more responsibive and responsible to the local residents. They could be amenable to special interests, but maybe not…. most states will do better then FedGov.

        Then, consider that the Constitution clearly prohibits FedGov owning or controlling ANY lands except for a very few limited instances….. the original state charters provided that ALL lands situatie within their borders as they were formed were to become part of those states…. smoehoe FedGov glommed onto those lands.. they hold more than half of all lands west of the Mississippi…. time that game ends.

        1. I’ve read quite a bit of their antics the bills and ideas they support/oppose, they are a big government Agenda 21/30, keeping public out of public lands, values.

          Anything they’ve promoted or supported, I find offensive and anti-people…… they seem to think all public land needs to be locked up from public use……

        1. Look up BHA. They are the Sierra Club for wealthy hunters and fishermen and their outfitters and guides. They have little concern for the working man’s access to hunting and fishing and think Washington bureaucrats are best at managing access to federal lands because BHA has lobbyists who can protect their access while restricting the input of local governments and residents. Try living next to federal lands and see how the locals get shut out. Roadless and restricted roads decisions made by Prius driving, granola eating federal managers ruin opportunities for local benefit from the land. They closed the road into the shooting rock pit, ‘just because they could.’ Trump, under the wise guidance of his outdoors loving sons, wants to put local control and benefit at the top. The feds made our wild lands the tinderbox they have become. When local interests were a priority, the forests were protected because they were sources of lumber and outdoor activites for generations. The feds would rather they burn to the soil than allow managed logging.

      1. Are you sure you aren’t confusing the Backcountry Hunters with the Backcountry Horsemen. The B Horsemen are definitely out to eliminate hunting so that they can ride the “backcountry” without their horses being spooked by gunfire or “fearing for their safety.” They are extremely wealthy and well organized and have a political lobby second to none. In Washington state, in 2007, B Horsemen lobbied for a new chapter, WAC 232-13, to be added to the wildlife regs. WAC 232-13 created a no hunting perimeters of 500 feet around all WDFW campgrounds…and shortly thereafter hitching posts sprouted in these campgrounds. When I questioned the WDFW about how they were going to identify the no shooting area they said they would post it. What they did was post a sign on the reader board stating that it is unlawful to shoot within 500 feet of the campground. Funny thing is that the landscape where many of these campgrounds are located is as much vertical as horizontal; it is possible to be 500 feet up the side of a hill and still only be a couple hundred feet horizontally from the campground. It is a poorly though-out, poorly implemented and unenforceable law that serves the purpose of the B Horsemen – it intimidates and alienates the hunting public, by threat of prosecution, to take their hunting activities elsewhere or give them up altogether for fear of breaking the law. It worked.

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