Behold: Two new land sell-off bills that nobody asked for

Arizona's Sen. Jeff Flake has introduced a land sell-off bill despite the fact that most voters in his state oppose such measures.

Credit: Gage Skidmore, flickr.

Proposals introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei and Sen. Jeff Flake would seize and sell public lands, despite the fact that such schemes remain unpopular.

In the halls of Congress, the public land takeover fringe persists—no matter how many people soundly reject its core goals. Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake are the latest lawmakers to introduce new bills that further this radical cause, seemingly heedless of whether the American people support it. 

Amodei's bill, the innocently named Small Tracts Conveyance Act, would give some national forest and Bureau of Land Management lands away to private landowners and state governments who own neighboring land. It is very common for public land to border private land; this proposal could tear a huge amount of public land out of America's hands in one fell swoop. 

Sen. Flake's legislation—the specifics of which have not yet been released--would push the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell off at least 6,000 acres of public land in northwestern Arizona. 

Earth to Congress: Voters want to keep Our Wild public lands in public hands 

It is already fairly clear that Americans at-large don't like land takeover schemes. Recent polling shows 78 percent of voters oppose efforts to privatize or sell public lands, including 64 percent of those who voted for Donald Trump. 

But if that isn't enough for Amodei or Flake, they might want to poll their own constituents:  

Another "Four Corners" state, Utah, has been ground zero for land takeover schemes that meet with vocal public disapproval. Lawmakers in the state have sustained heavy criticism for proposals to seize national public lands and make them less safe

The bottom line is that even in the West, where the then-nascent land takeover movement bubbled up through state legislatures before heading to Washington DC, people want to keep public lands public. From New Mexico to Idaho to Utah, they have been crowding state capitol buildings and town hall meetings to make their voices heard. Now, the hard part: Making sure our leaders actually listen. 

How to help: Don't let the federal budget fund land sell-offs 

While Amodei, Flake and others push the anti-public lands agenda, Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, arguably the dean of all anti-conservation lawmakers, is peddling a proposal to use $50 million in taxpayer money to facilitate the same thing.  

We need to tell members of Congress who are key to the federal budget process—especially Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Ken Calvert, the chairman of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee—that Rep. Bishop's proposal is a bad idea.   


Call Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (202-225-5034) and Ken Calvert (202-225-1986) and tell them the federal budget must not include Bishop's proposal to give away public lands