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Lawmaker withdraws bill to sell public land

Lawmaker withdraws bill to sell public land

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz originally proposed House Resolution 621 in late January with the goal of selling off parcels of federal lands in 10 states which had little value or were infrequently used by the government.

The reintroduced bills address 67 percent of Utah lands under federal ownership. Opposition formed unlikely alliances between environmentalists and sportsmen.

In Oregon, the 70,300 acres comes in parcels from 19 counties managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The latter would remove law enforcement capabilities from the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service.

Some Republican Congress members are inching closer to giving away millions of acres of public land.

"I'm a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands", Chaffetz wrote next to a picture of him wearing camouflage and holding a dog.

Chaffetz said in a post on the Instagram social media site that he would scrap the so-called Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2017, which he introduced last week, saying he feared it sent "the wrong message". "I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow", added Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.




As Chaffetz says in the post, "I am withdrawing HR 621". Impediments to disposal listed on the report prepared in 1997 for the Clinton Administration were noted as no legal access, mining claims and historic or cultural resources.

The actual language of the 1997 survey, which did not result in land being sold, prefaced its findings with a caution: "Please note many lands identified appear to have conflicts which may preclude them from being considered for disposal or exchange".

"In the early days of the new Congress, elected officials have shown a perverse willingness to attack America's air, water and public lands", Zimmerman said.

John Gale, conservation director for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in Missoula, Montana, said the Utah representatives were pushing the bills despite their proven unpopularity.

President Donald Trump has advocated for opening up public land for more drilling and mining, although he has said that public land should stay under federal control. Kerry Donovan, who previous year passed a bill proclaiming a first-in-the-nation "Colorado Public Lands Day", blasted the Chaffetz bill on Wednesday. In total, his state, which sees $650m in economic activity from hunting and fishing, stands to lose 800,000 acres of BLM land, or more than the state of Rhode Island. The bill would instead hand that jurisdiction to local sheriffs' offices. He's introduced a lot of bills, including one that would turn over management of oil and gas drilling on public lands in Utah to corporate interests.

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