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RNC Platform Calls for State Control of Public Lands

Fishing on public lands currently accessible to all North Carolinians may not be possible if the GOP succeeds in transferring control of federal public lands to states.(NCWF)
Fishing on public lands currently accessible to all North Carolinians may not be possible if the GOP succeeds in transferring control of federal public lands to states.(NCWF)
July 20, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. — This week at the Republican National Convention the GOP released its official party platform. Nestled in the 66-page document are calls to hand over control of federal public lands largely to the states where they are located.

Outdoor enthusiasts and conservation groups are concerned over the ramifications of taking away the 247 million acres of public land from all Americans. Richard Mode with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation said it comes down to being an informed voter.

"Any candidate for public office in America ought to tell us if he or she supports public lands or not,” Mode said. "We need to know that in making a voting decision."

In July, 30 national and state-level groups - including the National Wildlife Federation and North Carolina Wildlife Federation - sent a joint letter to the leadership of both parties asking them to support federal public lands management. Proponents of state-control of lands argued that states would operate with conservation in mind.

The Republican platform specifically supports the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration and mineral exploration. According to Mode, if lands are turned over to state control and economic interests come into play, the outcome could be permanent and devastating for lands that have always belonged to the people.

"Public lands are one of the main things that makes America America,” Mode said. "Access to be able to fish, hunt, hike is something that's part of our sportsman heritage, and the loss of public lands would be an extreme loss for every American. "

Mode added that states often don't have the funding to properly manage the lands, and some may opt to sell those public assets.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $696 billion nationwide and $19 billion in North Carolina annually.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC