This Week in Outdoor Policy – April 25th
What good is new gear if you don’t have anywhere outside to go use it? Tom Flynn tracks policy related to recreation and conservation for the Outdoor Alliance. Most Fridays, he summarizes the week’s top outdoor policy related headlines. With questions, news tips and angry hate mail, email him at tom [at] outdooralliance [dot] org.
The Bundy Backlash
Everyone’s favorite rogue rancher, Cliven Bundy, continued to make headlines this week. Ever since the BLM backed down from an armed standoff over the roundup of trespassing cattle, many have tried to make sense of the situation. Just to put things in perspective, Bundy has refused to pay all of $1.35 per cow and calf, per month. That is the low, low cost of grazing on public lands—which, incidentally, is cheaper than feeding a parakeet for a month. Ridiculousness of the situation aside, some raised concerns that Bundy’s example would lead others to similarly defy Federal land management. In Utah, one county commissioner announced plans to host an ATV ride through a closed archeological site, daring the BLM to do something about it. Thankfully though, most everyone everywhere roundly criticized Bundy, except of course the militiamen camped in his yard and a few misguided pundits and elected officials. The most creative criticism of all came in the form of BundyFest! a rehash of the radical experiment in community, Burning Man (an event which happily pays its fees to the BLM for the land it uses) on the Bundy Ranch. Because if Bundy’s right and anything goes on land you don’t own, then what’s to stop Burning Man from setting up on his lawn?
If all this weren’t enough, it turns out Bundy is a full-bore, sheet-over-the-head racist. On Wednesday he made some jaw dropping comments, leading to a flurry of activity as his few public supporters backpedaled, trying to say they support Bundy, but not that far. Here’s hoping the undeniable ignorance of his recent statements will cause his supporters to look at the rest of Bundy’s words and actions in a new light, seeing them for how wrong they really are.
Public Land Grab Jamboree
50 elected lawmakers from 9 western states converged in Utah to say “the urgency is now” and it’s time to take over all Federal public lands within their borders. The latest skirmish in the long history of the failed Sagebrush Rebellion, these lawmakers are demanding the unconstitutional transfer of public land to state ownership and control. Right now, Utah is the only state that has actually passed a law, but five other states are exploring the idea. This is, of course, bad news for the outdoors. Protected public lands and the freedom to enjoy them sets the West apart from the rest of the county—and sets America apart from the rest of the world. In State control, these lands would no longer be public, but would be either sold off or managed for economic gain alone. This was demonstrated yet again in Idaho, where state owned land was recently auctioned off for natural gas development at about $75 an acre, potentially threatening the Snake, Payette and Boise rivers.
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