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Blog

Our favorite stories about public lands and opportunities for you to get involved in protecting your outdoor experiences.

 

Public Lands Should Not Be a Piggy Bank for Congress

Tania Lown-Hecht

Soledad Canyon provides access to the San Gabriel Mountains (pictured here), a popular destination for hikers, campers, skiers, and snowboarders.

Soledad Canyon is a gateway to the San Gabriel Mountains, a popular weekend destination for hikers, skiers, and campers in Los Angeles. We’ve posted before about how frontcountry land like the San Gabriels provide much-needed outdoor access to urban populations. A new bill proposes to protect access to Soledad Canyon by buying out a contract with Cemex, a mining company with a contract there. This is great news for southern California outdoors enthusiasts.

The hitch? In order to pay Cemex to cancel the contract—which is only fair, since the company paid for a lease on the land that it now won’t be able to use—the bill proposes selling 10,000 acres of BLM land in Victorville, California. Selling public lands in order to pay for other public lands is bad policy-- it just doesn’t make long-term sense to use public lands as a piggy bank to pay bills.

We’re thrilled to see Senator Heinrich flagging the problems with this process and encouraging Congress to find other methods to offset the cost of the Cemex contract. His efforts to protect public lands across the west are on-point. There are plenty of ways to approach this issue and selling 10,000 acres of public land seems like a mistake.