Americans collectively own millions of acres of stunning public land, and our vast national lands system is the envy of the world. Over the last year, however, the public land heist has gained momentum, moving from western state legislatures to Congress. Tomorrow, the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands is preparing to consider three bills that threaten to transfer control of public lands to states and private interests.
- H.R. 3650 would allow any state to claim ownership of up to 2 million acres of a National Forest (roughly the size of Yellowstone National Park), on the condition that the state then prioritize logging over other uses of the land.
- H.R. 2316 would allow states to take possession of 900,000 acres or more of National Forests and hand control over to a small groups representing special interests, appointed by the state’s governor.
- H.R. 4579 would undercut potential Wilderness designations and careful land management by handing over travel management decisions of public lands in Utah, owned by all Americans, to a small group of counties.
Collectively, these bills would take lands owned in common by all Americans and turn them over to states, some with a mandate to prioritize timber harvesting. National Forests are owned in common by all Americans, not just residents of the states in which they are located, and have a wide range of stakeholders. These stakeholders include millions of Americans who use public lands to hike, climb, paddle, ski, and mountain bike. Our National Forests also provide wildlife habitat and ecosystem services, and are vital to the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy.
These bills are an attack on public ownership of public lands. If you’re interested in reaching out to your lawmaker to tell them why public lands matter to you, and to encourage them to keep our public lands in public hands, you can use our tool right here.