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Outdoor Groups Call Foul on Congress' Public Lands Valuations

Groups advocating for hunters and anglers are crying foul over new rules passed in Congress that they say could pave the way for selling off the nation's public lands. (Pixabay)
Groups advocating for hunters and anglers are crying foul over new rules passed in Congress that they say could pave the way for selling off the nation's public lands. (Pixabay)
January 26, 2017

DENVER – Hunting, fishing, conservation and outdoor industry organizations – and businesses – are sending a letter to Congress in opposition to new rules they say pave the way for selling off or transferring the nation's publicly-owned lands.

Aaron Kindle, Western sportsmen's campaign manager for the National Wildlife Federation, says normally Congress would have to account for any loss of income when selling off the public's property. But a new House rules package makes all revenues created on public lands null and void.

"So, it's a real cut to the heart of public lands, and really kind of greases the skids for transferring or selling public lands," he points out.

Proponents of transferring lands to states argue that the move would free industry from unnecessary red tape and boost state economies.

Kindle says current federal management practices ensure that public assets will be available for future generations through its sustainable, multiple-use policies, and notes states have a history of limiting public access.

Kindle stresses the nation's $646 billion outdoor recreation economy, including more than 6 million jobs, depends on access to public lands. He says that Congress' efforts to undervalue lands owned by all Americans is out of step with public opinion.

"You know, multiple polls have shown that folks value public lands,” he points out. “They don't want them transferred to the states. This really goes against public sentiment, and the fact that Congress did this on one of the first days in session tells you that they really are going against the public will."

Kindle says he hopes the letter will send a strong message to lawmakers that American sportsmen and women are strongly opposed to giving away public lands, which many consider a birthright.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO