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Official GOP Platform: Sell America's Public Land

September 14, 2012
Official GOP Platform: Sell America's Public Land - 20

I’m a public-land junky, and I’m proud of it. I hunt both private and public lands, but the public ground is special, no matter how crowded it might seem at times. Public land has been one of the greatest gifts this country has given to hunters and anglers. It’s also the legacy of conservation started by Theodore Roosevelt. TR created what became the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. His far-sighted vision has ensured that places like the Roan Plateau, Boundary Waters, and Bob Marshall remain as they have been since humans started making trails in them.

I value the jobs created by public lands, and the lifestyle that rural Americans enjoy due in large part to access to this great legacy. I value the wildlife and the amazing hunting and fishing opportunities I am afforded because of these public lands.

Perhaps that’s why I find is incredibly disappointing—shocking, even—to see things like the Republican Party’s platform on public land:

“Experience has shown that, in caring for the land and water, private ownership has been our best guarantee of conscientious stewardship, while the worst instances of environmental degradation have occurred under government control. By the same token, the most economically advanced countries – those that respect and protect private property rights – also have the strongest environmental protections, because their economic progress makes possible the conservation of natural resources. In this context, Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used for ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership. Timber is a renewable natural resource, which provides jobs to thousands of Americans. All efforts should be made to make federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service available for harvesting. The enduring truth is that people best protect what they own.”

That’s directly, verbatim, from the Republican Party’s platform. They are calling for selling off public lands. They’re also selectively rewriting history when it comes to environmental problems (more often than not caused by politicians and lobbyists) on public lands. It’s when regulations have been stripped or relaxed that we have these problems; problems created by the same people who are now trying to sell off our public lands. It’s akin to blaming a burglary victim for having nice stuff in their house.

This statement from the RNC also ignores the reality of what’s happening in the West when it comes to private timberlands and the public good. In fact, companies like Plum Creek Timber continue to look to the federal government to purchase their vast holdings of timberland. In Montana, we’ve been able to parlay that into new areas for wildlife management and increased hunting opportunity.

The policy laid forward by the RNC does more to move this country towards European style hunting than anything before it. We can argue about auctioning off tags, season setting, landowner incentive programs and the like, but without public lands, we have fewer and fewer hunters. That’s a plain, solid fact.

So, I have to ask, in the context of this platform plank: is the Republican Party anti-hunting? It seems too ludicrous to be true, but what other conclusion do you reach after reading this plan to sell the very commodity that keeps most of us hunters hunting: America’s public land?

I look forward to a conversation about this policy initiative, and whether anyone can tell me how it makes sense for a middle-class, public-land hunter.

Comments (20)

Top Rated
All Comments
from GuyGene wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

All I know is that without public lands, I would have no place to hunt and fish. I am not a big land owner (I have 4 acres), nor do I have family or friends who own enough land to hunt on.

I have heard that almost all of Texas is privately owned - if that is true, I hope some Texans chime in here. How easy or cheap is it to hunt or fish in places without much publicly owned land? Just wondering...

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

DKast, if I didn't know better I'd say you are joking. The federal government shouldn't own land besides military bases and office buildings? That's crazytalk. You're saying that Yellowstone National Park is unconstitutional. Public land is one of America's best ideas, the product of American democracy. As honest sportsmen dedicated to pass out our cherished pastimes, we need to defend them, not sell them off to the highest bidder. The anti-government bias expresses in this thread is a greater threat to hunting and fishing than PETA will ever be...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from akferraro1 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

goujon,

The National Park Service is killing access to the beaches that is the point. Haven't you noticed all the anti-NPS signs, shirts and bomber stickers, etc. on the Islands? They make it impossible to get the fishing points without a boat. Bottom line is DC bureaucrats don’t want US driving on THEIR beaches. The government owning something isn't the same as the public having access to it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Knowlesmt wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Public land is what makes Montana Great and just like water it is worth fighting for. As a Montana I always want people to enjoy God's creation regardless of income level, social status or friendship. As with housing American's should never be allowed to discriminate against anyone regarding the enjoyment of the Great Out Doors!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from captjim wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I don't think there is enough information here to have an informed opinion. The key words in the statement are (Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used). It has to be known how much "parts of enormous" end up being. It could be a big deal or amount to very little.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

the thing is I think that public land can be used by industry and stay in public ownership. The the logging and oil industries lease the mineral, timber, and oil rights while they work the land.

Take logging for example, logging benefits wildlife by removing old growth and promoting new growth of browse and grasses. The logging companies don't need to own the land to log it. That is why the National forest system is under the department of Agriculture. Trees are our most renewable resource.

Everywhere we have resources and the technology to remove them without causing irreversable damage then we should be able to do it and without selling the land. While the operation may damage habitat in the short term we can restore most of what industry does if the work is closely monitored and done only where it will not cause permanent damage.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 6phunter wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

INTERESTING TOPIC here that deserves more thought,as our nation grows so will be the need for resources locked up on federal grounds.While I'm not for giving up land,in some cases it maybe beneficial for the greater needs .{slap me for saying this,but not all AMERICANS are outdoors men.}This ground belongs to them as well.What about land that's been set aside in CRP programs,thats funded buy GOVT.should they be able to force private land owners to let outdoors men to use it ?Leasing grounds could be an option ,in return for reclaiming other grounds to benefit wildlife.Somehow we might gain an advantage through this if it passes,as mentioned before some more thought needs to be put into the subject by better qualified people than myself.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from goujon wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

The guy up there who said the Outer Banks would be great without the National Seashore? It's wall to wall development everywhere outside the public land. I've been fishing there from Nag's head to Ocracoke and Portsmouth I. since 1976. He'd never even have a place to get on the beach without paying top dollar. I've never heard of a comment that was so far off the money.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

JW Westman, I might be missunderstanding your comment, but the federal government has no legal means of owning land outside military bases & Federal government buildings. The states should own the land within their borders do what they will with them according to their constituents. By allowing the Federal Gov. to own land the people of states that have federal lands in reality have no say as to what is done with them. People say by voting for someone will change the tide but lets face it the federal gov. will do what they see fit whether you like it or not. We haven't been a free people in the terms of the Founding Fathers for a very long time. I believe the need of recreational land and having land set aside for the "Outdoorsman", but it is a catch 22 when the feds have the control.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JW Westman wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

It was said a long time ago regarding the stealing of the goose from the common and the greater crime of stealing the commons from the goose. Without public lands how do we, the ordinary Montanans (Americans)who cannot afford pay to play schemes gain access? How do the politicians explain this, how do they quantify these platforms, how come they don't have to explain these decisions to the public, and how come we don't make them answer the hard questions? The Preamble to the Constitution begins with: "We the People", that's us folks. Regardless of your political affiliation it's time We the People start making our politicians answer to us and only us, not $$$$$ interests.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I'm with akferrar01. I've been watching Utah trying to get it's land back from the Feds. I'm all for it.

I enjoy hunting public lands, but they ought to be controlled by the states, if anything. Not the Federal Government that can't even run a Post Office.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Roderick, I will have to disagree with you. Where in the American Constitution does it say, "It's the birthright of every American, born and unborn" to have access to public lands? We are granted many things but not ownership of public lands as a birthright. Don't get me wrong if we are paying for them then we have the rights to them, but if we elect a person who thinks otherwise then it is up to his/her constituents to make them hear their displeasure, but there is no right to land. We have the right to own land as a free people. In fact I would argue it is constitutionally illegal for the federal government to own land. I maybe all wet so lets hear it.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Mulybux +1!!!

I would take the selling of public land over the selling of American Freedom & Sovereignty to foreign nations/governments to continue on with BS entitlements and stimulus ANYDAY. Ben how will you hunt when you can't afford to buy a bullet with a wheelbarrow of cash? QE3 is going on now because we are in the bottom of a dark well with no way out and your worried about you, yourself, & no one else. This seems a easy argument but the fact is it isn't. What do you think about Mulybux proposal for Ted Turner the largest land hoarder in the USA? What about the Democrat party, affiliates, supporters track record of being anti-hunters? Honestly answering, Who is the hunter and fishermans greatest enemy?

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Our public estate is not for sale. It's the birthright of every American, born and unborn. Hunters and anglers of both parties should tell the politicians to back off. Every acre we lose is an acre of access, lost forever.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from archer1986 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Excerpt from the same policy Mr. Lamb referenced: "...public access to public lands for recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting should be permitted on all appropriate federal lands." I don't think the Republican party is anti-hunting. The excerpt Mr. Lamb did reference is a very small piece of a broad policy. I think the Republican party wants to be open to evaluating if there are PARTS of federal lands that might be better used through private ownership. There are ways to do this without significant impact to hunting and recreational opportunities on public land. For example, if it makes sense the government might sell natural gas rights in a national forest and lease limited surface rights in a small area to a gas company. Not a big deal. I don't interpret this policy to be as bad as it is being made out to be, but we should be aware and speak up to our legislators as needed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bootheel Hunter wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I wish this was publicized more widely. I pay pretty close attention but had not idea this was in the platform. This is definitely anti-hunting language. The position statement does not even mention hunting or hunters -- it is all about commodity interests, hunters are ignored completely. Thanks for shining a light on this, Ben.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Erik Jensen wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

As an overall matter, yes, the GOP and conservative movement of 2012 is anti-hunting. Being "pro-hunting" doesn't just mean that you think it's morally right to hunt, or that you support private firearms ownership. Much more is required:

Support for public land, lots of it, and other access programs. Support for the outdoor culture generally, and use of the government to promote it, often by partnering with private landowners and non-profits orgs. Support for youth hunts and gov't funding for recruitment and training programs for new hunters.

While there are certainly significant pockets of GOP voters that support all of this, they have no voice at the leadership level. They have been drowned out by big money and extremist anti-gov't ideology.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Thanks for bringing that to my attention. If there are improvements on the land I would agree with the Republican party, but there are not. We are talking about vast amounts of raw land. Neglect could and probably is a good thing with this land. I would ask the Republican party, "If private ownership is the best policy for land, why do they need to turn to the public land? Have they stripped the private land of everything? There arguement is defeated by their wants. Ben, this is interesting.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 35Whelen wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

The government doesn't own any land. The American people do. It's OUR land the GOP proposes to sell to the highest bidder. Newsflash: It ain't for sale.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from akferraro1 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

The government shouldn't own 90% of Alaska, 81% of Nevada and 70% of Utah. They certainly don't manage that much land effectively and you certainly can't hunt and fish on all of it. Look at how the NPS has destroyed fishing on the Outer Banks in NC- We'd be much better off with those islands in private hands.

-5 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from 35Whelen wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

The government doesn't own any land. The American people do. It's OUR land the GOP proposes to sell to the highest bidder. Newsflash: It ain't for sale.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from goujon wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

The guy up there who said the Outer Banks would be great without the National Seashore? It's wall to wall development everywhere outside the public land. I've been fishing there from Nag's head to Ocracoke and Portsmouth I. since 1976. He'd never even have a place to get on the beach without paying top dollar. I've never heard of a comment that was so far off the money.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from GuyGene wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

All I know is that without public lands, I would have no place to hunt and fish. I am not a big land owner (I have 4 acres), nor do I have family or friends who own enough land to hunt on.

I have heard that almost all of Texas is privately owned - if that is true, I hope some Texans chime in here. How easy or cheap is it to hunt or fish in places without much publicly owned land? Just wondering...

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from JW Westman wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

It was said a long time ago regarding the stealing of the goose from the common and the greater crime of stealing the commons from the goose. Without public lands how do we, the ordinary Montanans (Americans)who cannot afford pay to play schemes gain access? How do the politicians explain this, how do they quantify these platforms, how come they don't have to explain these decisions to the public, and how come we don't make them answer the hard questions? The Preamble to the Constitution begins with: "We the People", that's us folks. Regardless of your political affiliation it's time We the People start making our politicians answer to us and only us, not $$$$$ interests.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bootheel Hunter wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I wish this was publicized more widely. I pay pretty close attention but had not idea this was in the platform. This is definitely anti-hunting language. The position statement does not even mention hunting or hunters -- it is all about commodity interests, hunters are ignored completely. Thanks for shining a light on this, Ben.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Our public estate is not for sale. It's the birthright of every American, born and unborn. Hunters and anglers of both parties should tell the politicians to back off. Every acre we lose is an acre of access, lost forever.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

the thing is I think that public land can be used by industry and stay in public ownership. The the logging and oil industries lease the mineral, timber, and oil rights while they work the land.

Take logging for example, logging benefits wildlife by removing old growth and promoting new growth of browse and grasses. The logging companies don't need to own the land to log it. That is why the National forest system is under the department of Agriculture. Trees are our most renewable resource.

Everywhere we have resources and the technology to remove them without causing irreversable damage then we should be able to do it and without selling the land. While the operation may damage habitat in the short term we can restore most of what industry does if the work is closely monitored and done only where it will not cause permanent damage.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from captjim wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I don't think there is enough information here to have an informed opinion. The key words in the statement are (Congress should reconsider whether parts of the federal government’s enormous landholdings and control of water in the West could be better used). It has to be known how much "parts of enormous" end up being. It could be a big deal or amount to very little.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Knowlesmt wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Public land is what makes Montana Great and just like water it is worth fighting for. As a Montana I always want people to enjoy God's creation regardless of income level, social status or friendship. As with housing American's should never be allowed to discriminate against anyone regarding the enjoyment of the Great Out Doors!

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Roderick K. Purcell wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

DKast, if I didn't know better I'd say you are joking. The federal government shouldn't own land besides military bases and office buildings? That's crazytalk. You're saying that Yellowstone National Park is unconstitutional. Public land is one of America's best ideas, the product of American democracy. As honest sportsmen dedicated to pass out our cherished pastimes, we need to defend them, not sell them off to the highest bidder. The anti-government bias expresses in this thread is a greater threat to hunting and fishing than PETA will ever be...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Erik Jensen wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

As an overall matter, yes, the GOP and conservative movement of 2012 is anti-hunting. Being "pro-hunting" doesn't just mean that you think it's morally right to hunt, or that you support private firearms ownership. Much more is required:

Support for public land, lots of it, and other access programs. Support for the outdoor culture generally, and use of the government to promote it, often by partnering with private landowners and non-profits orgs. Support for youth hunts and gov't funding for recruitment and training programs for new hunters.

While there are certainly significant pockets of GOP voters that support all of this, they have no voice at the leadership level. They have been drowned out by big money and extremist anti-gov't ideology.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from archer1986 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Excerpt from the same policy Mr. Lamb referenced: "...public access to public lands for recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting should be permitted on all appropriate federal lands." I don't think the Republican party is anti-hunting. The excerpt Mr. Lamb did reference is a very small piece of a broad policy. I think the Republican party wants to be open to evaluating if there are PARTS of federal lands that might be better used through private ownership. There are ways to do this without significant impact to hunting and recreational opportunities on public land. For example, if it makes sense the government might sell natural gas rights in a national forest and lease limited surface rights in a small area to a gas company. Not a big deal. I don't interpret this policy to be as bad as it is being made out to be, but we should be aware and speak up to our legislators as needed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin R. Wheeler wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

I'm with akferrar01. I've been watching Utah trying to get it's land back from the Feds. I'm all for it.

I enjoy hunting public lands, but they ought to be controlled by the states, if anything. Not the Federal Government that can't even run a Post Office.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 6phunter wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

INTERESTING TOPIC here that deserves more thought,as our nation grows so will be the need for resources locked up on federal grounds.While I'm not for giving up land,in some cases it maybe beneficial for the greater needs .{slap me for saying this,but not all AMERICANS are outdoors men.}This ground belongs to them as well.What about land that's been set aside in CRP programs,thats funded buy GOVT.should they be able to force private land owners to let outdoors men to use it ?Leasing grounds could be an option ,in return for reclaiming other grounds to benefit wildlife.Somehow we might gain an advantage through this if it passes,as mentioned before some more thought needs to be put into the subject by better qualified people than myself.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from akferraro1 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

goujon,

The National Park Service is killing access to the beaches that is the point. Haven't you noticed all the anti-NPS signs, shirts and bomber stickers, etc. on the Islands? They make it impossible to get the fishing points without a boat. Bottom line is DC bureaucrats don’t want US driving on THEIR beaches. The government owning something isn't the same as the public having access to it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from schmakenzie wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Thanks for bringing that to my attention. If there are improvements on the land I would agree with the Republican party, but there are not. We are talking about vast amounts of raw land. Neglect could and probably is a good thing with this land. I would ask the Republican party, "If private ownership is the best policy for land, why do they need to turn to the public land? Have they stripped the private land of everything? There arguement is defeated by their wants. Ben, this is interesting.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Mulybux +1!!!

I would take the selling of public land over the selling of American Freedom & Sovereignty to foreign nations/governments to continue on with BS entitlements and stimulus ANYDAY. Ben how will you hunt when you can't afford to buy a bullet with a wheelbarrow of cash? QE3 is going on now because we are in the bottom of a dark well with no way out and your worried about you, yourself, & no one else. This seems a easy argument but the fact is it isn't. What do you think about Mulybux proposal for Ted Turner the largest land hoarder in the USA? What about the Democrat party, affiliates, supporters track record of being anti-hunters? Honestly answering, Who is the hunter and fishermans greatest enemy?

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

JW Westman, I might be missunderstanding your comment, but the federal government has no legal means of owning land outside military bases & Federal government buildings. The states should own the land within their borders do what they will with them according to their constituents. By allowing the Federal Gov. to own land the people of states that have federal lands in reality have no say as to what is done with them. People say by voting for someone will change the tide but lets face it the federal gov. will do what they see fit whether you like it or not. We haven't been a free people in the terms of the Founding Fathers for a very long time. I believe the need of recreational land and having land set aside for the "Outdoorsman", but it is a catch 22 when the feds have the control.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

Roderick, I will have to disagree with you. Where in the American Constitution does it say, "It's the birthright of every American, born and unborn" to have access to public lands? We are granted many things but not ownership of public lands as a birthright. Don't get me wrong if we are paying for them then we have the rights to them, but if we elect a person who thinks otherwise then it is up to his/her constituents to make them hear their displeasure, but there is no right to land. We have the right to own land as a free people. In fact I would argue it is constitutionally illegal for the federal government to own land. I maybe all wet so lets hear it.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from akferraro1 wrote 1 year 30 weeks ago

The government shouldn't own 90% of Alaska, 81% of Nevada and 70% of Utah. They certainly don't manage that much land effectively and you certainly can't hunt and fish on all of it. Look at how the NPS has destroyed fishing on the Outer Banks in NC- We'd be much better off with those islands in private hands.

-5 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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