Outdoorsmen and Women Stand Up for Public Land - Bill HR 621 Dies
00:46, Feb 3, 2017
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Opposition formed unlikely alliances between environmentalists and sportsmen. In Oregon, it included 70,300 acres in parcels from 19 counties managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
More than 1,000 Montanans rallied against the transfer of public lands on January 30 in the Capitol Building, some touting signs specifically aimed against HR 621.
Chaffetz posted a statement on his Instagram account late Wednesday declaring he would withdraw HR 621 Thursday.
"I'm a proud gun owner, hunter and love our public lands", Chaffetz wrote alongside a photograph of him in hunting camouflage, holding a dog. "Groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message. I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow".
The identified land comes from a 1997 survey conducted by the Clinton administration, which was seeking potential revenue to benefit the Everglades Restoration effort.
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".
"Trump's allies in Washington laid the tracks for this land takeover scheme the moment they started their legislative session, and now they're driving a locomotive over the American people and our wild natural heritage", the group's senior government relations director Alan Rowsome said in a statement. "Built over a century ago by President Theodore Roosevelt, public lands form the backbone of the Rocky Mountain West, our economy and our way of life".
Under Chaffetz's new bill, the Interior Secretary would be directed to sell the unspecified federal lands. That bill called for deputizing local law enforcement, combined with block grant funding, to empower existing elected law enforcement offices to carry out the responsibilities. Several of the 20 representatives came from California and Texas, the rest were spread across the country.
Bureau of Land Management lands are set aside for mixed use and many are leased from oil, gas and timber. As well as providing corridors for gray wolves and grizzly bears, low-lying BLM land often makes up the winter pasture for big game species, such as elk, pronghorn and big-horned sheep. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers also asked its members to complain about the legislation, according to The Hill.
Barack Obama created at least two federal protections in counties with large swathes of BLM land now designated for disposal: New Mexico's Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument, in 2014, and Utah's Bears Ears national monument, in 2016.
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