Transfer is sale

28 OCT 2012: Upland Bird Hunting in Pocatello, ID. (Joshua Duplechian)

Anti-public land special interests like to say they only want to “transfer” America’s public lands to individual states, making the speculative claim that states would do a better job managing these lands. Don’t be fooled: TRANSFER=SALE.

The fact is that states have a dubious track record when it comes to selling state trust lands. Western states have already sold off tens of millions of acres and if you want to know what the future will bring, take a look at the past (spoiler: it’s not good for hunters and anglers).

  • New Mexico has sold one-third (4.5 million acres) of its lands granted at statehood.
  • Utah has sold 4.1 million acres (55 percent) of state trust lands to private interests.
  • 38 percent (1.7 million acres) of state trust lands in Colorado have been sold.
  • Idaho received 3.65 million acres at statehood and has sold off 33 percent (1.2 million acres).
  • Oregon has sold 2.6 million acres (77 percent) of state lands granted under the Oregon Admission Act.
  • Nevada has sold off nearly all of its lands granted at statehood, with only 3,000 acres remaining.

State land percentages FINAL-01.png Think it can’t happen in this day and age? The Oregon Department of State Lands is currently in the process of selling off 82,500 acres of the Elliott State Forest, 70,000 acres of which were once part of the Siuslaw National Forest. TRANSFER=SALE.

If you’re still not convinced that your public lands would be sold off and believe that they would be better managed by states, consider this: 80% of Colorado’s state trust lands are closed to public acces for hunting and fishing. Moreover, in most cases there is a mandate to manage state trust lands for maximum profit – not multiple use – leaving fish, wildlife and hunters and anglers holding the short end of the stick. If our public lands are transferred to states, they would no longer belong to “We the People”, and citizens across the country would lose the right to have a say in how our lands are managed.

America’s public lands are a gift to hunters and anglers. Whether you live in Montana, Missouri or Massachusetts, these lands belong to all Americans and are places where we can all hunt, fish and recreate. Our nation’s system of public lands work really well for sportsmen and women, and we have nothing to gain and everything to lose by gambling on the transfer of our public lands. It’s a fool’s bet.

This is a land grab of the highest order and one that should concern every American. So the next time someone tries to feed you a line of cow pies about handing over your public lands, remember: TRANSFER=SALE.

By Shauna Stephenson. Shauna Stephenson has been a writer, photographer, communicator and conservationist for nearly two decades, the past decade being spent at Trout Unlimited, working on projects…