It only took one day

Twenty-four hours. That is how long it took for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution to make it easier to sell or transfer America’s public lands. The fight for our public lands started on day one of the 115th Congress.

On Tuesday, the House of Representative voted on a rules package that included a provision to make land transfers “budget neutral”—essentially greasing the skids for future public land disposal bills. No public hearings. No public testimony. Just a smoke filled room, sans the smoke, and the future of public lands are in question.

Public lands contain nearly seventy-percent of the remaining habitat for native trout. Half of our blue ribbon trout streams originate or flow through public lands. Public lands are the backyard of the little guy, not the playground of the rich. Public lands ensure that Americans don’t need to beg, borrow or trespass if they want to hunt or fish or hike.

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Trout Unlimited recognizes that public land management can be improved. And we work with our state and federal agency partners on collaborative solutions to do that. But the ham-handed, great barbecue notion that we should transfer or sell America’s lands is neither productive, reasonable or in the public interest.

Public lands are the best idea America ever had—the hairy notion that we enjoy as a birthright places to hunt, fish, roam and explore the lands that tested the character of our nation over 200 years ago. The sale or transfer of public lands was a bad idea during the Sagebrush Rebellion 30 years ago. It was bad idea during the county supremacy movement 15 years later. It was a bad idea when extremists took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last year. And it was a bad idea when the House voted earlier this week.

The sale or transfer of public lands would be one the most irretrievably bad, irrevocable mistakes the US Congress could possibly make.

If you hunt or fish or care about open-space for your kids, you need to make your voice heard. Contact your elected officials using TU’s action center, and here you can see how your Representative voted on the joint resolution. You can also tell Congress and the President to keep public lands public, and include a message why America’s public lands matter to you by signing TU’s petition.

It took 24 hours for the opponents of public lands to telegraph their intentions. Please take five minutes to let them know why that is unacceptable.

— Chris Wood

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By Chris Wood. Chris has worked at TU for 22 years, and is not the best angler, but he is among the most earnest.