Rep. Chaffetz Kills Public Lands State Transfer Bill

Conservationists and sportsmen's voices were heard! Rep. Jason Chaffetz is rescinding his bill to sell millions of acres of public land back to the states.

Republican lawmaker Rep. Jason Chaffetz has declared that he has heard the voices of sportsmen and conservationists who strongly opposed a bill he introduced to sell off millions of acres of public lands.

He posted an Instagram photo of himself in full camo and holding a young hound with the following message.

H.R. 621 was a bill introduced on January 24 by Chaffetz that would have sold 3.3 million acres across 10 western states. The land was identified by President Clinton in 1997 as having no specific use, and so was ripe to be sold to the states, which in turn would have likely sold it to private buyers who would surely have cut off public access to hunters, anglers, hikers, and nature lovers.

Rather, these kinds of federal lands have significant value to outdoorsmen and women who embrace the idea of public access to dwindling federally protected lands.

Thousands of concerned citizens, sparked by notifications of the impending legislation from groups like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Trout Unlimited and The Wilderness Society, flooded Chaffetz's office with calls protesting the bill.

Opponents of attempts to sell or return public lands back to the states fear that much of the land could either ultimately become privatized - and access denied to folks who rely on these lands for recreational purposes - or that the lands' natural resources could be exploited

We've been championing the cause of the federal government maintaining jurisdiction over public lands and funding their upkeep here at Wide Open Spaces. That may sound a little counter-intuitive on the surface, promoting the idea of federally owned lands, particularly for folks who are generally opposed to the federal government butting into things like states rights, wildlife management and similar issues.

But on this issue, the alternative is worse.

States generally do not have the funds to maintain these lands, and so they will be sold off. Once that happens there's no going back. Up will go the 'No Trespassing' signs and access will be denied or will become a "pay to play" situation (not unlike what it is in most of Texas, for example).

This is one area where the federal government does do a commendable job in protecting public land that all of us own and have access to.

This bill had been introduced two times prior but had received little interest. This time, however, it created a firestorm of protest from well-informed voters.

Land Tawney, President and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers said of the victory,

"Democracy does work! After introducing this bill, a call to arms was heard by sportsmen across the country. Thousands of sportsmen began to contact Jason Chaffetz. The bill shouldn't have been introduced in the first place but he listened and has now pulled it. Thank you to all of you who made phone calls and stepped up on social media. Precedent has been set and every politician is now on notice. Don't' mess with our public lands. We won this battle but unfortunately I think the war is far from over. Billionaires don't like to lose."

BHA also cautioned, "Your voices were heard. Revel in this victory but know, this battle is far from done! The collective community of sportsmen and women flexed their muscles and we will not be taken for granted! Stay vigilant and stay involved!"

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