A week ago, all but 3 Republican Senators voted for an amendment that could result in public land being sold into private hands. Amendment SA 838 was introduced to allow states to take over, transfer and sell public, federal lands, including National Forests, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas.
Proposed by a circus of Senators cramming every possible amendment into a Republican-sponsored budget, the amendment carries no weight of law. However, the budget is used to bring attention to issues, forcing Senators to take a public stance, which signified a troubling level of support for the privatization of public land.
SA 838 passed 51-49 – Democrats unanimously opposed it, while all but three Republicans voted for it. The holdouts were Corey Gardner of Colorado, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, all states which have incredible national parks.
The amendment follows a recent push for privatization in the west. Eleven states, including Alaska, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona, have introduced bills to their legislatures this year that could turn our shared public lands–national forests, parks, refuges, wilderness areas and more–over to the states to sell.
Sen. Lisa Murkowiski’s (R, AK) amendment takes away the protections of Congress, which, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, is the only body with the authority to sell or transfer federal lands.
Introducing the amendment, Sen. Murkowski stated, “When we have an opportunity to consider this amendment, a vote for it is really a vote in support of — as a priority of this Congress — comprehensive approaches to land policies to facilitate economic development, empower States and improve our conservation systems.”
“Economic development” on National Forest land? Is that really what we need?
So what can you do to help? Speak out and make your voice heard – send a letter to one of the senators who voted for SA 838, and sign this petition:
Eleven western states, including Alaska, have introduced bills to their legislatures this year that could turn our shared public lands–national forests, parks, refuges, wilderness areas and more–over to the states to sell.
I do not support the idea of selling America’s shared public lands to the highest bidder.
I am sorry to see this radical idea has also infected the U.S. Congress. In late March, the U.S. Senate voted to pave the way for the sale, transfer or exchange of public lands to state and local governments. Similar efforts in the 1970s and 80s were soundly defeated. It was a bad idea then and it’s a bad idea now.
To pay for managing millions of additional acres, states would resort to privatizing or auctioning these lands for drilling, mining, and logging. Because these lands could be owned solely by extractive industries to maximize profits, Americans, such as myself, could lose access to some of our most treasured natural areas to hunt, camp, fish, hike and watch wildlife.
Our children and grandchildren deserve to experience America’s forests, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. Help us stop this bad idea from becoming a reality.
“National parks and reserves are an integral aspect of intelligent use of natural resources. It is the course of wisdom to set aside an ample portion of our natural resources as national parks and reserves, thus ensuring that future generations may know the majesty of the earth as we know it today.” — John F. Kennedy
Do your part to save our National Forests!