Senate Amendment 838 – Our lands for sale




For both our silly little podcast and for a magazine I contribute to, Senate Amendment 838 was mentioned.

In brief, this symbolic and non-binding resolution does not put up BLM and USFS lands for sale per se.  As Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R, AK),  the originator of the amendment,  stated this proposed bill will “support and fund state efforts to take possession of federal public lands.”

This amendment passed 51-49 in favor and was almost split down party lines.

The fig leaf for this amendment is that states will be able control their lands and determine the best use for it.

However, without the checks and balances found more often at the federal level, what this means in reality is that state-controlled land will more easily pass into private and corporate control. Probably for resource use.

Unlike the at least somewhat balanced use of the public lands currently seen,  with its give and take from various sides forced by political compromise, I can foresee state-controlled lands being put under lock and key and exploited.   Local governments tend to have more cronyism than the federal level (as bad as that can be ). Of course, we the taxpayers helped maintained and protected the lands potentially up for sale.  Private interests, and many public officials no doubt,  now will be able to access the land more easily for their own benefit.

That’s not free enterprise.

That’s enabling a plutocracy and one being subsidized by taxpayers at that.

When groups as politically diverse as the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and the Wilderness Society oppose this amendment and what is potentially means,  it is time to act.

Don’t think this symbolic amendment will have any traction?

What is forgotten by many is that Utah’s governor Herbert signed the Transfer of Public Lands Act.   Another symbolic law with no supposed teeth.

But here it is a year or so later and there is traction, on the Federal level, to transfer public lands to state control.

Going to hiker gatherings and enjoying a community can be fun. Discussing the latest Gortex wunder-coat can be interesting for some.

But if we want our public lands for hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, rafting, climbing, camping and more we need to act.

There may be a lock and key at your favorite spot. Or you may have to pay more money to access yet more formerly public accessible lands and subsidizing another business getting rich at our tax-payer funded expense.

Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” is a song of hope. But , lesser known, is the question towards the end of the song: Is this land made for you and me?

Let’s make sure this land stays for you and me.

Write your elected officials. Sign petitions. Keep the wild lands wild. Volunteer.


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9 years ago

The no. This is bad. As an outdoor enthusiast with close ranching/farming roots I appreciate the fine line between preserving our wilderness and still leaving enough agricultural area for our hard working, underappreciated agrarians… But I don’t trust Herbert, this news fills my head with nightmarish visions of wilderness destroyed by The corporate mining and logging industry… Thanks for bringing this to our attention (especially for people like me that kind of live under a rock) it is definitely time to start bombarding our representatives and politely but firmly letting then know how we feel. Thanks PMags!