Federal Government’s Land Grab

On April 16th, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum launching his “21st century strategy for America’s great outdoors.” It was addressed to the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality.

The memorandum calls on the officials to conduct “listening and learning sessions” with the public to “identify the places that mean the most to Americans, and leverage the support of the Federal Government” to “protect” outdoor spaces. Eighteen of 25 planned sessions have already been held. But there’s much more to the agenda than simply “reconnecting Americans to nature.”

The President said that the initiative is not a “big federal agenda being driven out of Washington,” but an effort to collect the best ideas on conservation that local communities support and reconnect Americans to the outdoors. He explained that the initiative will build on successful conservation efforts being lead by local and state governments, tribes, and private groups, while helping farmers, ranchers, and property owners to protect their lands.

Is that so? Hmmm…

The federal government, as the memorandum states, is the nation’s “largest land manager.” The government currently owns 650 million acres, or 29 percent of the nation’s total land.

This is apparently not enough for them.

This power grab, masquerading as a feel-good, all-American recreation program, comes on top of a separate, property-stealing plan exposed by Rep. Robert Bishop (R-UT) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) earlier this spring.

According to an internal, 21-page Obama administration memo marked “Internal Draft-NOT FOR RELEASE,” has surfaced revealing plans for the federal government to seize more than 10 million acres from Montana to New Mexico as potential federal “monuments,” halting job-creating activities like ranching, forestry, mining and energy development. Worse, this land grab would dry up tax revenue that’s essential for funding schools, firehouses and community centers. The lives of coyotes, deer and prairie dogs would be elevated above states’ needs to generate jobs, tourism business and energy solutions.

Congressman Bishop, made the memo public because he didn’t want another unilateral land grab by the White House, like what happened under former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Using the Antiquities Act, President Carter locked up more land than any other president had before him, taking more than 50 million acres in Alaska despite strong opposition from the state.

President Clinton used the authority 22 times to prohibit hunting, recreational vehicles, mining, forestry and even grazing in 5.9 million acres scattered around the country. The law allowed him to single-handedly create 19 new national monuments and expand three others without consulting anyone.

One of the monuments President Clinton created was the Grande Staircase-Escalante in Utah, where 135,000 acres of land were leased for oil and gas and about 65,000 barrels of oil were produced each year from five active wells. But, President Clinton put an end to developing those resources.

You’d think the Obama administration is busy enough controlling the banks, insurance companies and automakers, but thanks to whistleblowers at the Department of the Interior, we’ve learned they’re planning to increase their control over energy-rich land in the Western United States.

Indeed, the federal government already has enough trouble managing the vast amount of land they already control. As the Washington D.C.-based Americans for Limited Government group, which defends private property rights, points out:

“The [National Park Service] claims it would need about $9.5 billion just to clear its backlog of the necessary improvements and repairs. At a time when our existing national parks are suffering, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to grab new lands.”

The bureaucrats behind President Obama’s “Great Outdoors Initiative” plan on wrapping up their “listening tour” by Nov. 15. The initiative’s taxpayer-funded web site has been dominated by left-wing environmental activists proposing human population reduction, private property confiscation, and gun bans, hunting bans and vehicle bans in national parks.

President Obama could enact the plans in this memo with just the stroke of a pen, without any input from the communities affected by it.
Americans should be wary of any plans a president – any president – has to seize land from the states without their consent. Any new plans to take away states’ freedom to use land as they see fit must be stopped.

The Constitution provides for the federal government to exercise authority over ten square miles in Washington, D.C. and places for needful buildings like forts, arsenals and dock yards. Nowhere does the Constitution give the federal government authority to regulate conservationism, forestry and wildlife.

It’s time for private property owners to send their own loud, clear message to the land-hungry feds: Take our hands off our land.

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3 thoughts on “Federal Government’s Land Grab

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