NWF blasts congressional push to dismantle public lands heritage

'Keep public lands in public hands'

The National Wildlife Federation criticized the latest attack on our public lands heritage – a congressional group’s plan to pursue ways to give public lands to the states despite widespread opposition to the idea.

Utah Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart announced Tuesday that they are forming the Federal Land Action Group "to develop a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control." NWF questioned why members of Congress would spend time and energy on a goal the public doesn’t support, faces huge constitutional and fiscal hurdles and has failed to make it through most legislatures across the West.

Here's what NWF said about the new land group:

"Starting in January, sportsmen and women joined with mountain bikers, hikers, business owners, veterans, people from all walks of life to say ‘Keep public lands in public hands’ at statehouse rallies from New Mexico to Nevada. We think legislators – and Congress – have better things to do than push for bills aimed at special interests who would like to privatize and develop our public lands without regard to the impacts on fish and wildlife habitat, hunting, fishing and recreation," said Lew Carpenter, NWF's regional representative.

"Proponents of the states taking over federally managed lands suggest that the West has somehow been treated unfairly because it has so much public land. To me, it's the Eastern states that have been cheated.  It's their citizens who have been deprived of the enormous treasure these lands provide and opportunities to experience wild places and wildlife that Westerners can take for granted," said Kate Zimmerman, public lands policy director for the National Wildlife Federation.

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