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Who’s Stealing Your Public Lands?

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Who’s behind the bad idea of state transfer of public lands? Randy Newberg condenses the issue and says what you can do to help in this important fight.

The transfer of our federal public lands to the states is a bad idea that has repercussions for everyone who enjoys the great outdoors. Randy Newberg has been at the forefront of this political fight and here he explains the who and the what of the issue.

“There’s nothing in the concept of state transfer – nothing – that is going to result in better land management,” he says. “None of these states can afford to manage these lands, and they won’t do it any better than the federal government. ”

“Knowing that better land management is not what drives state transfer, what does drive state transfer?” It’s really two issues, he says. “One is a real issue. And one is a fake issue, a concocted idea.”

The real issue is that there are entire communities and local cultures that rely on public land. When public land use policies change that much, there is legitimate frustration on the part of people in these communities.

The fake issue is, according to Newberg, nothing more than political opportunism. Politicians seize the opportunity of a crisis to declare that state transfer of public lands is going to solve all of these issues. Newberg says it’s a lie, plain and simple.

Our focus, he says, should be on better land management, on long-term sustainability of the land. It’s going to take time, a long time, to change the culture and correct these public land issues.

First we need to get rid of the “dumb idea” of state transfer and then we need to focus and stay focused on better land management. This could be a decades-long project, he says.

If we have Congress wanting to continue to act like these lands are some liability to America, it’s our job to hold them accountable, that these lands are not a liability. These lands are an asset.

Three organizations are really at the front lines in this fight to preserve public lands: Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

There are others in this fight for sure, other organizations and individuals, but these three have arguably had the loudest voices.

On the other side lies the American Lands Council, an organization that has promoted the idea of selling our public lands. While the American Lands Council is the front for the idea of state transfer, there are many county commissioners, state legislators, and even congressional representatives who support this idea.

“I’ve never voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate in my life, and I don’t see that changing this year,” says Newberg. But, “Every bill in every state legislature, every bill in congress that has been floated around, that has been introduced to try to screw you out of your public lands, has an R beside it.”

This is an issue way more important than partisan politics. This is an issue about our history. This is an issue about our culture, our legacy, about our way of life.

I’m a member of the ‘hunting, fishing, public access party.’ That’s the only party I belong to.

The hunters, anglers and public land advocates have a big job to do in educating the politicians on what these lands mean to people. Fighting this fight might create some friction, but protecting and preserve our access to public lands and the way of life many of us have grown to love.

At the very least you can make sure that you join and support those organizations that fight for your interests, for your public lands. You can also vote, and educate politicians on just what public lands mean to you.

Let’s get on it.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

NEXT: The Pros and Cons of Hunting Public Land

Who’s Stealing Your Public Lands?