Updates from ASLA

Congressman Withdraws Bill to Sell Off Federal Land

After an outcry from local conservation and sportsmen groups, Congressman Jason Chaffez (UT) promised to rescind his bill to sell off millions of acres of federally owned land. On January 24, Chaffetz reintroduced, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which called for the disposal of 3.3 million acres of federal land in 10 Western states identified as being suitable for sale to non-federal entities. According to Chaffetz statement at the time of bill introduction, “These lands have been deemed to serve no purpose for taxpayers.”

However, in just over one week, Chaffetz did an about-face and announced that he would rescind the measure. “I am withdrawing HR 621. I'm a proud gun owner, hunter, and love our public lands. The bill would have disposed of small parcels of lands President Clinton identified as serving no public purpose, but groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message. The bill was originally introduced several years ago. I look forward to working with you. I hear you ,and HR 621 dies tomorrow.”

On January 24, Chaffetz also reintroduced the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, which would terminate federal law enforcement from serving Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. Instead, states would receive block grants to police federal lands themselves. Chaffetz has stated that the measure is not only about bringing law enforcement back to the local level, it also aims to save the taxpayer money. However, opponents argue that even with block grants, the burden in overseeing these vast land masses could be too onerous for local law enforcement. Also, a new poll released Tuesday by Colorado College finds voters in seven Mountain West states are largely opposed to policies that would significantly alter land management in the West. According to new media outlets, Chaffetz’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment regarding the poll results.

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