Our public lands are currently at risk of being sold off, privatized and lost as a natural resource.
Here’s the good news, the protection of public lands is a bi-partisan issue. Hikers and hunters, hippies and rednecks all enjoy public lands…
On this issue, you can leave your identity politics at the door. We are in this together.
Pristine public land in the Mojave Desert
This page serves as a guide to inform citizens about public lands and raise awareness on upcoming legislation that threatens public lands in the US.
With each bill, we include actionable steps that you can take to best leverage your position on the issue.
Please share this page on social media!
Thanks for helping to protect public lands!
What are public lands?
In the United States, some land is owned and maintained by the federal government. This is called public land. This land is held in trust for the American people. When you pay your taxes, you’re providing the money needed to manage these lands. Every American citizen should consider themselves a partial landowner of this incredibly large spread of land.
How much land do we own? Great question, American citizens own 640 million acres of national public lands. To put this in perspective, approximately 50% of the western U.S. is designated as public land. I bet you didn’t realize you were such a massive landowner!
This land can be found easily. On a map, look for land referred to as BLM, National Forest, Wilderness areas or National Parks. That’s your land. Pack up some gear and drive out there. Each type of public land has its own rules governing what you can do there. But with a little research, you can find your perfect spot. Whether you want to hunt for elk, fish for trout or just camp out under the stars in total silence – there’s a little slice of paradise waiting for you to show up.
Why are public lands currently at risk?
The federal government is currently entertaining the idea of selling off your public lands to individual states. This sale would provide a quick burst of cash to the federal government. Sounds good right? Here’s the problem…Once states are in possession of federal lands, the land becomes much easier to sell off to private interests.
Most states do not have the budget to maintain these large pieces of land. Putting out fires and managing wild game populations can be expensive. Therefore, it is highly likely, that states will sell off this land to private interests.
Once private companies are in control of this land, all bets are off.
Fences go up, forests get chopped down, hard rock mining begins, hunting and fishing is restricted and in general, public access is denied. If you have a few minutes, please watch the adjacent video to learn more about this situation.
If you’re unfamiliar with the nuts and bolts of how a bill becomes a law, here are a few resources to quickly bring you up to speed.
- The US House of Representatives website contains this very concise and informative summary of the legislative process.
- Congressman Frank Lucas also offers a helpful page on the subject. His page offers more detail on events and timeline.
- And of course, don’t forget the classic video, ‘I’m just a Bill’.
Organizations that help defend public lands.
In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” The Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has taken up this charge. They are aggressive defenders of our public lands and also battle for causes that are important to hunters and anglers.
As stated on the TRCP website…
We help create federal policy and funding solutions by uniting our partners and amplifying the voices of American sportsmen and women in service of Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation legacy.
Want to learn more about the history of public lands in the US?
Keep it Public is another organization that effectively communicates the public land use issue.
You will hear lots of people attempting to politicize the public land use issue. You will also hear people misrepresent the history of public lands in the US. To help cut through that noise, check out the adjacent video. Keep it Public has created an animated video that provides the timeline and history of public lands in the United States.
Sportsmen Access is a consortium of various hunting, fishing and land use organizations. Their sportsmenaccess.org website serves to communicate land use issues to the general public. They are currently collecting signatures on a petition to stop the seizure of public lands. Visit their site and sign the petition!
The video on the right comes from the Sportsmen Access website, narrated by Randy Newberg. It’s a highly informative video that explains the risk that faces public lands.
More general information about U.S. public lands.
Who manages our public lands?
As you may imagine, public land in the United States is managed by large government organizations. Here’s how it breaks down…
The Department of the Interior manages all land designated as:
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- United States National Park
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Fish and Wildlife Service
The Department of Agriculture manages all land designated as:
- United States Forest Service (national forest)
Current legislation that threaten public lands
Click on each item to learn more and take action. Updated: 1/4/2018.
Update: January 2018. President Trump is removing our National Monuments. In 2017, Trump asked Ryan Zinke to make a recommendation on all other National Monuments going back to the designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996. In late 2017, despite overwhelming public opposition, Trump and Zinke decided to dramatically shrink 4 National Monuments.
Zinke’s final report comes a day after Trump signed proclamations in Utah that downsized two massive national monuments there — Bears Ears by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly 46 percent. In addition to the Utah sites, Zinke supports cutting Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou, though the exact reductions are still being determined. Washington Post
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Help protect BLM land near Zion National Park
2018 Update: Good news. Due to negative comments from general public, this plan has been dropped.
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A termination of law enforcement functions of BLM and National Forest land
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More bills that threaten public lands will be posted here soon…
Tell the Interior Secretary to defend our National Monuments
Ryan Zinke is our new Secretary of the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior is in charge of much of the public land in the United States (BLM, National Parks, Fish and Wildlife, ext.)
Ryan Zinke has previously stated that he greatly admires Teddy Roosevelt. We are hoping the Interior Secretary will follow in Teddy’s legacy of preserving wild lands in the west.
Now here’s the bad news…
In late April, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order asking the Interior Secretary to ‘review’ the validity of various national monuments. Trump repeatedly mentioned Bears Ears National Monument, saying it ‘never should have been done.’
The White House advisory on the executive order specifically calls out Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as ‘two examples of modern abuses of the Antiquities Act.’
Ryan Zinke is in charge of the Department of the Interior. Please let him know you value wilderness and public lands!
The Antiquities Act is a federal law, which President Teddy Roosevelt passed in 1906. This law allows presidents to protect federal lands without congressional approval. It was a brilliant idea. Teddy wanted each president to have the capacity to quickly and effectively protect our nation’s wilderness.
Since 1906, no president has ever attempted to revoke or abolish a National Monument.
But here we are… President Trump is now abolishing certain National Monuments.
Please reach out to Ryan Zinke and let him know you value public lands.
You can directly contact Ryan Zinke via twitter.
If you use twitter, you can reach Interior Secretary- Ryan Zinke directly. You can find Zinke at @SecretaryZinke
Here’s a sample tweet…
@SecretaryZinke please defend our #nationalmonuments.
You can also call the Interior Secretary at 202-208-7351.
Thanks for your help! This is really important.
Please help us by sharing this page on social media!
We will keep updating this page as new information surfaces…
To terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and to provide block grants to States for the enforcement of Federal law on Federal land under the jurisdiction of these agencies, and for other purposes.
H.R. 622 was also introduced by Jason Chaffetz (see the section on H.R. 621 above).
2018 Update: Jason Chaffetz has retired and is now a Fox contributor. This bill is still stuck in the House.
H.R. 622 has the intention of eliminating the law enforcement functions of the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. In their absence, local law enforcement would then pick up the slack. For example, the local sheriff would need to enforce laws that are specific to BLM or National Forest lands. This includes…enforcing camping rules, ATV use, poaching and illegal tree harvest for firewood.
The bill, jointly sponsored by Utah’s Rep. Mia Love and Rep. Chris Stewart, also establishes a formula to reimburse local law enforcement based on the percentage of public land in each state. The resulting cost savings will reduce the BLM budget by five percent and the Forest Service by seven percent.
People familiar with this issue, seem to think it is unrealistic to assume a local sheriff would have the time, resources or know-how to effectively regulate public lands. It is more likely this bill is an attempt to compromise the integrity of public lands – under the guise of ‘shrinking big government’.
To hear Jason Chaffetz’s thoughts on H.R. 622, you can listen to this podcast interview between Cameron Hanes and Jason.
Outdoor Alliance has created this page, which allows citizens to easily send a letter to their appropriate representative in regards to H.R. 622. I encourage you to customize the subject line and body of the letter, so that your representative in congress will know that the letter represents your thoughts.
For the latest information on this bill, visit the official H.R. 622 page on congress.gov.