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Counties Dropping Public Lands Transfer Group

County memberships in a group working to transfer public lands  such as the Burnt Hollow Management Area  to states are on the decline. (Bureau of Land Management)
County memberships in a group working to transfer public lands such as the Burnt Hollow Management Area to states are on the decline. (Bureau of Land Management)
October 27, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- County memberships in the American Lands Council, a national group working to transfer publicly owned lands to states, have dropped by as much as 45 percent, according to an investigation by the Western Values Project.

Chris Saeger, director at the Western Values Project, said that drops in membership reflect the ALC's declining influence in Western states.

"Things are not looking good for folks like the American Lands Council and the Bundy folks and others who are advocating for the transfer of federal public lands to states,” Saeger said, referring to a group currently on trial for occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Saeger also pointed to a recent report by the Conference of Western Attorneys General, which concluded that lawsuits to hand over federal lands to states are unlikely to succeed.

According to its website, the ALC recently met at an undisclosed location in Salt Lake City to discuss strategies going forward. The group did not respond to requests for comments.

Saeger said the battle over who controls federal lands is far from over, and said that out-of-state funders may still be able to keep the ALC's doors open. He said keeping national lands open and accessible for all Americans to hunt, fish, hike and camp drives a multi-billion-dollar recreation economy.

"If you lose that because those lands are ultimately sold off to powerful special interests, then you lose a very significant chunk of the outdoor economy and, more importantly, our way of life,” Saeger said.

Last year the ALC removed a list of counties who pay annual dues from its website. The Western Values Project filed formal information requests to the 53 counties formerly listed, and found almost half are no longer members.



Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY