You may have heard about two bills from recently introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in the House. These bills demonstrate that some members of Congress are intent on following through on the threat to sell off public lands that they laid out in the first days of the new Congress, when the House voted in its rules package to treat the transfer of our priceless public lands as valueless for the sake of budgeting.
H.R. 621 directs land management agencies to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands identified “as being suitable for sale” nearly a generation ago, without regard to their present recreational or conservation values. We are continuing to work on identifying the specific parcels that would be up for sale, but these threats of large-scale, indiscriminate transfers are an assault on our common ownership of public lands.
A second bill from Rep. Chaffetz, H.R. 622 would strip law enforcement functions from the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, leaving protections for public lands at the whim of local sheriffs, who are unlikely to be familiar with the rules and regulations that protect our public lands or be trained and equipped for work in wild landscapes.
These bills reflect a radical agenda aimed at dispossessing Americans of their public lands. Currently, there is no full text available for either of these bills, nor are there hearings scheduled, but we are keeping a close eye on them and will share timely information on reaching out to stop them. In the meantime, we suggest writing your Congressperson to share your concern regarding steps like the House rules package and Rep. Chaffetz’s bills that put the continued existence of our country’s public lands in peril. You can do that right here: