Credit: personaldemocracy, flickr.
A little over a week after proposing to sell public land in 10 western states, Rep. Chaffetz announced in a midnight Instagram post that his bill would "die." Congressional offices had reportedly been overwhelmed by calls from people who want to keep Our Wild public. This included many of Chaffetz's own constituents, who were concerned about the possibility of losing access to places they love. Put simply, your voices made a HUGE difference—thank you.
"We plan to hold Rep. Chaffetz and the rest of Congress accountable every time they fail to protect the places that celebrate our outdoor and cultural heritage”
Brad Brooks, deputy director of The Wilderness Society's Idaho office, said Chaffetz did the "right thing," but noted both the congressman's troubling record on public lands issues in general, and the need to closely scrutinize other lawmakers moving forward.
"This is one victory in a broader defense of public lands at large, and we plan to hold Rep. Chaffetz and the rest of Congress accountable every time they fail to protect the places that celebrate our outdoor and cultural heritage,” said Brooks.
Chaffetz's bill would have sold off millions of acres across 10 western states.
The outpouring of criticism for Chaffetz's bill underscores once again that, even in a politically divided country, public lands are a winning issue. Most Utah voters have said they are less likely to vote for a candidate who proposes the sale of national public lands, and recent polling showed that 78 percent of Americans oppose efforts to privatize or sell public lands, including 64 percent of those who voted for Donald Trump.
Congress continues to wage war on Our Wild
This was a huge win, but make no mistake: enemies of conservation in the White House, Congress and state legislatures are still as determined as ever to seize our public lands and undermine the idea that they should be open to everyone.
The current political regime's first strike was passing a little-known rule that will make it easier to sell off national public lands on the first day Congress was back in session. That set the stage for legislation—in this case Rep. Chaffetz's bill--to divvy up acres for seizure or "disposal." So while you helped us repel an immediate threat, anti-conservationists still have the machinery of the 'public land takeover' movement gassed up and ready to go.
We will be in contact with supporters every step of the way, sharing news and strategies about how to defend Our Wild. You can visit the Our Wild site to learn more about this threat.