Hunters, anglers, hikers, bird watchers, nature enthusiasts, there is a battle going on. And we need your help.
Header image credits: Aaron Maffei of Woods and Waves apparel
If you’re anything like me, you love the fact that America has the greatest wild lands the world has to offer. If you’re also anything like me, you won’t let the government take them from you.
Public lands are gold mines. Whether it’s a vast stretch of prairie land, large trek of pristine forest, or a salt dusted marsh, the government can likely make money off it. Two recent bills are in the works right now to turn public lands from an American freedom staple to eventual government pocket money.
H.R. 622 is coming off the heels of the recently reverted H.R. 621, which was also proposed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). Although public out lash from hunters, anglers, and outdoorsman across the country led to Chaffetz pulling back H.R. 621, H.R. 622 is still alive and well.
H.R. 622, or the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, moves to abolish Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and National Forest Service lands.
Here are some quick facts on the Bureau of Land Management and National Forest Service to put this in perspective.
The Bureau of Land Management manages over 245 million acres of public lands. In that land more than 3,000 species are managed, including some of our favorites (elk, mule deer, waterfowl), some of the scariest (grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolves), and some of the most vulnerable (sage grouse, California condor, and kit fox). The BLM prides itself on manage some of the most integral public lands in America.
Meanwhile, the National Forest Service is comprised of National Forest and National Grasslands, encompassing a total of 193 million acres of American public land. At sites like the Bridger-Teton National Forest, you could walk for days, weeks, even months and not step on the same ground twice. Inside some National Forests, you can find marvelous National Monuments like the Giant Sequoia National Monument in California.
If H.R. 622 (which already has six cosponsors from California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah) is passed, then states will not be able to handle the burden of enforcing wildlife law on over 400 million acres of public land. Poaching, vandalism, illegal dumping, and destruction of public lands will all go unchecked. The consequences could be catastrophic for some of these fragile ecosystems.
A fine article written by Steven Rinella explains some of the motives, problems, and nuances of H.R. 622.
H.R. 232, or the State National Forest Management Act of 2017, is another chip at the integrity of the National Forest System. If passed, the act will allow states to take as much as 2 million acres of National Forest service land and manage it for timber resources, or for “other uses”.
The bill was proposed by Alaskan congressman Don Young. Alaska’s National Forests include the Tongass National Forest (17 million acres) and Chugach National Forest, with the Tongass National Forest being the largest American forest by a 10 million acre lead. If Congressman Young cares that little about his own state’s national forests, which inhabit rare spectacle creatures such as brown bears and Alaskan moose, then he clearly has no care for the lower 48.
The biggest national forest in the lower 48 is the Humboldt-Toiyabe at 6 million acres. More typical National Forests include the Pisgah National Forest, 512 thousand acres, of North Carolina, and the Allegheny National Forest, 513 thousand acres, of Pennsylvania. Under H.R. 232, both of these National Forests could be completely transferred to state management for timber sale.
If Don Young wanting to take away century old hunting and fishing lands doesn’t piss you off enough, you should also note that he is an avid supporter of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
How To Protect Outdoorsman Heritage
Join me in shutting H.R. 622 and H.R. 232 down. We can’t let the government piss on our historic hunting, fishing, hiking, and natural lands. Follow these links to take action:
Back Country Hunters and Anglers:
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:
Most of all, call your state congressman and let them know we will not stand for this!