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Change in Use of Public Lands and Parks?


gypsydan

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Has anyone heard anything more about these laws being passed by the House and Senate which would allow the sale or outright giveaway of most public lands –including national forests, federal wildernesses and wildlife preserves, and Bureau of Land Management properties? Is it possible they might have an effect on our ability to use public lands?

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/opinion/our-land-up-for-grabs.html

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While such issues are clearly of concern to all of us, it is important to look at the document referenced before getting excited. The paper that it was published in has a clear political leaning and this was from their opinion section, not even pretending to be news. Next consider that the author of that opinion is the self appointed head of an environmental organization that was founded by himself and which provides his personal income. The article gives no documentation at all for the statements that it makes and it makes very clear the intention to attack one particular political party.

 

The measures, supported only by the Republicans who control both houses,

 

There is no question that such issues do bear monitoring and that we should all stay aware of what is happening in Congress and stay involved, but I would hardly be alarmed by this particular story.

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Don't worry, if something like this ever happens, I don't think that land access or use will materially change. There will be preservation of asset clauses, road and facility maintenance clauses, etc. The purpose - like anything these days is revenue generation by expanding the property tax base. In theory, a private party - say an oil exploration or drilling company will purchase a remote, wilderness area, get a permit for one or more EPA approved oil wells, road access etc, utilizing say 50-100 acres out of many thousands. Not only will the state get the initial revenue of the sale (or lease) and now has thousands of acres of land added to the property tax roles, but it now has reduced liability (as the land owner or lessee now has to pay the insurance on the land, and must maintain the roads, bridges and facilities (such as campgrounds and attractions) as part of the deal.

 

Of course this is all theory, as anything can be abused, used to reward political cronies, etc. (I'll leave it to your imagination) but it just makes sense from a revenue standpoint, especially in states like Utah where 80% of the entire state is public land that we pay to manage and maintain through our tax dollars, yet receive almost no revenue on. I guess like everything else, the devil is in the details. It can be done correctly, with respect to nature and public land access and facilities, or the system can be corrupted and abused.

 

Chip

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I read the amendment and it looked as if it gave federal control of many public lands over to state and local governments.

On the surface, it did not appear harmful.

And it's "revenue neutral". It doesn't cost anything.

 

However, thinking back to the last year, Alaska's Bristol Bay was under threat of a huge open pit copper mine proposal.

Bear in mind that Bristol Bay is the pristine Salmon fishery.

Many locals in Alaska were for it - they wanted the pit mine for the jobs and money it would bring.

 

My thinking is that giving federal lands over to state control makes it that much easier for that land to be developed: profit.

Why else would politicians write a bill that doesn't cost anything?

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I read the amendment and it looked as if it gave federal control of many public lands over to state and local governments.

On the surface, it did not appear harmful.

And it's "revenue neutral". It doesn't cost anything.

 

However, thinking back to the last year, Alaska's Bristol Bay was under threat of a huge open pit copper mine proposal.

Bear in mind that Bristol Bay is the pristine Salmon fishery.

Many locals in Alaska were for it - they wanted the pit mine for the jobs and money it would bring.

 

My thinking is that giving federal lands over to state control makes it that much easier for that land to be developed: profit.

Why else would politicians write a bill that doesn't cost anything?

 

With many individual states being so strapped for cash these days you can bet that land preservation will take second seat to ANY possible profit.

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Kirk, I don't see that as an attack on a political party. That is just a fact, that only the Rs supported the bill.

Additional, the NY Times is clearly one of the best written newspaper in the world. Your right wing views are apparent.

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I think right now under existing Federal control our lands have about the best possible protections. But there are lots of "interests" out there that would love to get their hands on them. And we all know who they will work with to do that don't we.

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Has anyone heard anything more about these laws being passed by the House and Senate which would allow the sale or outright giveaway of most public lands –including national forests, federal wildernesses and wildlife preserves, and Bureau of Land Management properties? Is it possible they might have an effect on our ability to use public lands?

If you are talking about Senate Amendment 838, it is part of the non-binding budget agreement. It had one sponsor/co-sponsor. It is my understanding that any transfer/sale of federal lands would require specific authorizing legislation. Such legislation would require 60 votes in the Senate and a two thirds majority in both chambers to over ride a veto. I think there will be a lot of opportunity to voice opposition to any such legislation.

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Here is a different perspective on federal ownership of land, back east is isn't such a big deal but in the west it is an entirely different situation. How happy would the eastern states be if 80% of their land was locked up?

 

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/fact-check/2015/04/13/fact-check-gosar-correct-private-land-arizona/25740527/

 

 

Combined, tribes, and the state and federal government control about 59.7 million acres, or 81.8 percent of all Arizona land. This number is approximate because land managed by some federal agencies isn't included in reports, because of the difficulty in accurately measuring land on such a large scale and because different government sources give slightly different sizes for the state.

BOTTOM LINE: According to the latest figures available, tribes and the state and federal government own 81.8 percent of all Arizona land, leaving just 18.2 percent open to private owners. Federal land ownership might be higher because available sources don't look at land owned by all agencies, meaning private owners could hold less than 18 percent of land in the state.

 

 

federal_lands.jpg?1422311293

 

 

 

A different chart that the forum won't show is good too, see it here:

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/US_federal_land.agencies.svg

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I sympathize with Alaskans and those in other States who would like more State and local governmental control over public lands in their region. Why does a central government thousands of miles away know what is better for those lands than the people who live right around them? Owning large tracts of land is not one of the powers enumerated to the federal government in the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. And the 10th Amendment does state, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution...... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

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I sympathize with Alaskans and those in other States who would like more State and local governmental control over public lands in their region. Why does a central government thousands of miles away know what is better for those lands than the people who live right around them? Owning large tracts of land is not one of the powers enumerated to the federal government in the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. And the 10th Amendment does state, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution...... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

 

" Why does a central government thousands of miles away know what is better for those lands than the people who live right around them?"

 

The fact that you believe that there are no representatives of the Federal government in Alaska to make decisions or provide feedback to the lawmakers in DC, shows just how weak your argument is.

 

Paul

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Did not say I did not believe there are federal reps in Alaska. But for those that are, they answer to DC, not Alaskans, correct?

 

True. So what does the fact that the lawmakers are thousands of miles away have to do with the argument, as long as they get information from those on the land in question?

 

Paul

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I was not arguing at all. I was questioning if State and local government might not know better what is best for the the public lands they live next to.

 

The question who gets to define "better", and "better" for whom. There are lots of competing interests. I would guess that US Gypsum, or National Gypsum, would love to get their hands on the gypsum at White Sands National Monument.

 

Paul

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The question who gets to define "better", and "better" for whom. There are lots of competing interests. I would guess that US Gypsum, or National Gypsum, would love to get their hands on the gypsum at White Sands National Monument.

 

Paul

Read the actual amendment: "to sell or transfer to, or exchange with, a State or local government any Federal land that is not within the boundaries of a National Park, National Preserve, or National Monument, by the amounts provided in such legislation for those purposes, provided that such legislation would not raise new revenue and would not increase the deficit over either the period of the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2020 or the period of the total of fiscal years 2016 through 2025."

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.....Additional, the NY Times is clearly one of the best written newspaper in the world......

Yes, the NY Times is well written, but do not lose sight that this article is NOT written by staff, and is well marked OPIONION. An opinion written by someone with personal gain involved.

 

Please consider the source.

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There is validity to the issue and in at least some cases it is of interest specifically to RV folks. As Stanly points out it is also of much greater interest to those who live in states with a greater portion of lands controlled by state and/or federal government. It has long been an argument over who should get to say what happens on and to public lands, whether state or federal owned. Of course, those who live in states with little federally controlled land have great interest in maintaining federal control because if the states should ever gain control, that means that those residents of other states no longer have any voice in what becomes of them. As long as those lands are managed by the federal government they will be mostly a drain on the tax system and to some degree they are when any governmental agency controls them. If they were sold then they would become a part of the tax base for the states where they fall. Doing that could possibly also decrease the cost of our federal government since there would then be little need for the organizations like the Forest Service, the BLM, and much of several other groups.

 

Of course there also has to be someone to manage and operate the national parks and also our national wildlife refuges, if they are to continue to exist. Most of us have at least some interest in the national parks and some, like myself have a great interest in and concern for the national wildlife refuges which see far less visitor use but in our view are just as important in many ways. In my view the protection of public lands and parks is really not a political party issue but one that reaches across lines as there are those who are deeply involved and committed to them from most all political views.

Then there is the question of just how far should such protections go? One of the main questions is, how much of this federal and/or state land should be protected from all development and for how long? The vast majority of public lands in the western states has become such because it was unclaimed in the years when those lands were open for settlement. Most of us have only seen very small parts of the lands involved and probably never will see much of them. But is there some reason that we should now forbid any privatization of those lands in ways that they were once open to settlement? It might be interesting to explore if there are still any federal lands that are open to homesteading as they were during the westward migration? The original homestead act was signed in 1862, during the Civil War and it was very much a politically motivated action. It seems that not much has really changed in the years since when it comes to views on public lands.

 

And just to make it very clear, nowhere in this have I stated a position and I have been careful not to do so. I happen to be rather protective of many of our public lands, but am not well informed about some of them and so take no strong position in such cases.

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While such issues are clearly of concern to all of us, it is important to look at the document referenced before getting excited. The paper that it was published in has a clear political leaning and this was from their opinion section, not even pretending to be news. Next consider that the author of that opinion is the self appointed head of an environmental organization that was founded by himself and which provides his personal income. The article gives no documentation at all for the statements that it makes and it makes very clear the intention to attack one particular political party.

 

There is no question that such issues do bear monitoring and that we should all stay aware of what is happening in Congress and stay involved, but I would hardly be alarmed by this particular story.

 

Kirk has it correct. Having worked for NPS, BLM and FS in my professional career.

 

Congress is really a work of art when it comes to public lands.

 

When I was working as an economist........the Federal fees charged telecommunication companies, recreation interests like ski areas and others were all set by Congress at significantly less than Fair Market Values. So much so....that we ignored the fees we charged in the economic calculations. We used "willingness to pay" and other "economic games" to do the economic analysis since NONE OF IT made economic sense using the fees set by Congress. The funny part......the ONLY users of public land that came even close to paying FAIR MARKET VALUE were the oil, gas, and timber companies!!!

 

I remember a fiber optic company sending a bill back to the Forest Service for an easement on public land. They assumed we made an error in the calculation since it was 5% of what was paid to the state of Washington. We sent back a nice letter saying thanks to Congress, the bill is correct. Enjoy!!

 

Congress even passed a law mandating that the Forest Service trade land on a acre for acre basis with the city of Seattle land worth $50,000 dollars an acre for $50 an acre land on rattlesnake infested cliffs in eastern Washington. BTW the city of Seattle then immediately closed the former Forest Service land to public entry.

 

When it comes to public lands......we have "the best government money can buy".

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I question if the states or local government would better protect federal lands. I think that the states or local folks would sell

the land for current profit. I know that the state of Texas sold a toll road to a company from Spain for money and now the Spanish company has

the right to collect tolls on that road for a lot of years. Now that the toll revenue is less then expected, the state must pay the Spanish company. It doesn't seem like a great deal

for us Texans.

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I question if the states or local government would better protect federal lands. I think that the states or local folks would sell the land for current profit. I know that the state of Texas sold a toll road to a company from Spain for money and now the Spanish company has the right to collect tolls on that road for a lot of years.

And you accuse me of a political agenda................ :rolleyes: There is a great deal more to this story but it has little to do with management of public lands.

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Here is an excerpt from Brian Gore's blog about Goosenecks in Utah.

 

http://daily-blog.rv-boondocking-the-good-life.com/2015/04/busted-when-you-get-lazy-bad-things.html


"Got here... to the Goosenecks late in the afternoon... to find that it was effectively GONE.

The State of Utah has somehow now taken over control of this BLM land. Where it had been Free Boondocking since your grandaddy was pestering HIS grandaddy... it will now cost you $10 a night to park amongst the dirt and rocks.

I don't mind 'em charging a fella when they've put in facilities... but there's Nada. And ya'll can't tell me there's a "Cost" for parking in the dirt, in the desert... a few hundred miles from pretty much any damn thing."

 

Paul

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RV'ers are probably not aware of this law.......but it it has been around for quite awhile.

 

Recreation & Public Purposes Act

State and local governments and qualified nonprofit organizations may purchase or lease parcels of public land managed by the BLM for use in recreation or other public purposes.

Examples of such uses include historic monument sites, campgrounds, schools, fire houses, law enforcement facilities, municipal facilities, landfills, hospitals, parks, and fairgrounds.

Lands within National Forests, National Parks and Monuments, National Wildlife Refuges, Indian lands, and acquired lands are not available for lease or purchase. The amount of land per project is limited to the amount required to efficiently operate the proposed project, and there are additional limits on the number of acres a government unit or nonprofit organization may purchase per year. There is no annual limit on the acreage that may be leased.

For details on the BLM R&PPA program and an application form, visit the BLM National R&PPA website.

here is the link: http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/more/lands/recreation_and_public.html. It is worth reading. Particularly, for those RV'ers that deal with BLM.

Here is another link to Utah State Parks on the subject...historically. Worth reading for background: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/outdoors/52084665-117/parks-state-utah-lake.html.csp

And, the law is used by BLM.....Here is an actually case on the Las Vegas strip. Now that BLM land was worth a LOT OF MONEY. Wonder how much Clark County paid for the transfer??

Last page.......last item in the federal register listing: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1999-11-03/pdf/99-28698.pdf

Anybody want to get together and set-up a new escapees co-op park??

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Here is an excerpt from Brian Gore's blog about Goosenecks in Utah.

 

http://daily-blog.rv-boondocking-the-good-life.com/2015/04/busted-when-you-get-lazy-bad-things.html

"Got here... to the Goosenecks late in the afternoon... to find that it was effectively GONE.

 

The State of Utah has somehow now taken over control of this BLM land. Where it had been Free Boondocking since your grandaddy was pestering HIS grandaddy... it will now cost you $10 a night to park amongst the dirt and rocks.

 

I don't mind 'em charging a fella when they've put in facilities... but there's Nada. And ya'll can't tell me there's a "Cost" for parking in the dirt, in the desert... a few hundred miles from pretty much any damn thing."

 

Paul

I don't know when the last time the blogger you quoted was at Goosenecks. He is correct that they now charge for camping, but according to the Utah State Park website it: "Opened to the public as a state park in 1962." So it has not been BLM managed land for over 50 years if it ever was. But then who needs to be confused with the facts when posting on the internet.

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