U.S. Senator Proposes to Eliminate National Public Lands

Senator Mike Lee of Utah intends to introduce legislation that would do away with national public lands by transferring them to states. In response, we're working with our partners at Outdoor Alliance to deliver a petition to Lee and other key lawmakers. Help us reach 25,000 signatures!
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
July 20, 2018

In a series of tweets last month, Senator Mike Lee of Utah announced that he’s introducing a bill to “transfer federal lands to the states.” The proposal boils down to taking federally protected parks, forests, refuges, and monuments and putting them in the hands of individual states – where they’d be vulnerable to all sorts of different rules and mandates.

Those following The Mountaineers and our partners will recognize that transferring national public lands to states is a central tactic in the Public Lands Heist, a campaign to weaken our public lands until the door is opened to private interests.

This bill normalizes radical attacks on public lands. On top of that, there’s more than one bill. In total, Senator Lee has plans to introduce three pieces of legislation aimed at dismantling our national public lands. His proposals include:

  1. Virtually eliminating public lands altogether by transferring them to individual states, in the hopes that western states would look more like “Missouri or Illinois.” (This is the one we mentioned above.)
  2. Allowing individuals, companies, or local officials to “petition” to “use” public land for virtually any reason, from building housing to “research” (on what, he is unclear).
  3. Restricting national monuments in Utah. This bill is called the Protect Utah’s Rural Economy Act, and it's already been introduced. It seeks to “To limit the establishment or extension of national monuments in the State of Utah.” Allowing national monuments on state by state basis would effectively wreck the 1906 Antiquities Act, a key piece of conservation legislation that’s protect treasured lands and waters, such as the San Juan Islands and Devil’s Tower.

These kind of threats are not idle. Utah has made inroads in rolling back protections of public lands, and with the current political climate, people who love the outdoors can’t let these ideas gain any traction.

When Rep. Chaffetz introduced a bill last year to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands in the west, the public responded with a fury, and within a week, he’d made a stunning 180. It is equally, if not more important, to speak out now against these proposals. Let Senator Mike Lee hear it – loudly and clearly – by signing this petition with our Outdoor Alliance partners. We’re aiming to deliver 25,000 signatures  to Senator Lee and other key lawmakers.

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