The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Federal Lands For Sale (If We Do Not Fight)

Western land for sale. Koch National Park?
February 2015 Think Progress article headline: "Senate Votes To Help States Sell Off Public Lands""

Do you believe the average citizen has the wherewithal to purchase large swaths of federal land? Of course, regardless of your financial wherewithal, you cannot see such an opportunity, correct?  

Think Progress piece from this past February adroitly depicts how the US Senate (thus the government) is working to open federal lands for sale to the highest bidder. You might think, well what is federal land and what is the big doesn't affect you correct? 

Take a quick read from the Think Progress piece.

What are Federal Lands (examples along with and intro to the land "sells' issue)

Select article excerpts: 
...U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) amendment, which passed by a vote of 51 to 49, is now part of the Senate’s nonbinding budget resolution. The proposal would support and fund state efforts — which many argue are unconstitutional — to seize and sell America’s public lands. These include all national forests, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, historic sites, and national monuments.
...The land grab proposals in Congress this year appear to echo the calls of outlaw rancher Cliven Bundy, best known for his armed standoff with federal officials last year, who has infamously refused to recognize the authority of the federal government, including over public lands.
Democrats have promised stiff opposition.
Murkowski’s proposal to sell off public lands, however, is meeting stiff opposition from other western senators. On a conference call yesterday, Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) said that they are determined to turn back legislative attacks on the outdoors. Bennet called efforts to sell off lands to reduce the federal deficit “an assault on our public lands.”
Opposition rationale should be easily recognized by people lie you and me. We cannot purchase swaths of state controlled lands as we do not have the financial wherewithal. You know as well as I know who will purchase the land swaths: rich American and rich foreigners corporations. How about the thought of your favorite national park littered with oil drilling units, associated spills, horrific oil related smells, fast food outlet to service oil rig workers and cheap hotels to house those workers? How bout Koch National Park with fees that work to increase the Koch billionaire hoppers?
Public opinion research has found that a majority of Westerners oppose land grab efforts and believe that transferring public lands to state control will result in reduced access for recreation; higher taxes; increased drilling, mining and logging; and a high risk that treasured public lands will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The article excerpts were for an article published in the early months of 2015, and just after the US Senate celebrated a majority of Senators holding GOP membership. The newly appointed Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) didn't waste a moment after appointment to the ultra powerful Senatorial committee. 

The Think Progress piece (linked above) is laden with details of last February's model towards facilitating individual state sells of federal lands.

Let's take a look and short read about the availability of federal lands in states west of the Mississippi River. 

Let's start with the most obvious answer: the map is stunningly effective at bringing home its message. And that message is: Federal land ownership out west is huge. 
Few minds will stir when they learn that the US federal government owns a grand total of 640 million acres of land: that figure is so vast that it becomes meaningless [1]. The sum of all that acreage adds up to about 28% of the nation's total surface, 2.27 billion acres. That sounds like a lot, but since it is an average, and because we have nothing to compare it to, that percentage is, to use one of my favorite quotes, “the kind of information they conceal in books” [2]. 
Both issues – the blandness of averages, the lack of comparison – are eliminated by the map, which presents an immediate, jaw-droppingly clear frame of reference. In the blink of an eye, the contrast between the west and the rest becomes clear. 
The clever device delivering that instant insight: 50 icons, each shaped like the particular state they are centered on and sized to reflect the percentage of the federal lands in each particular state.
Read more linked above (quite interesting)

"Your GOP" Has used the majority we handed them and voted in the majority to facilitate sells of federal lands in the US West.  The list below is an indication of how the GOP works for the interest of those with "wherewithal" and they work for those people an entities alone.

Only three Republican Senators voted against the land sell Budget Bill Amendment: Ayotte (R-NH), Alexander (R-TN), Gardner (R-CO). It is worthwhile to note all current Republican candidates who have declared a run for the presidency (Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Graham) voted "Yay."

It is intriguing and sad a measure as serious as western lands sales garners no cover via US media. What is we are so inundated with news of cop killings, ISIS and Caitlyn Jenner (of late), NSA snooping, and the growing number of Republicans announcing to run for president, we are not informed about yet another sell-off via the GOP. 

Politics is like ignoring the unruly behavior of a spoiled child. If we do not pay attention, voice our concerns and re-voice our concerns American politician will take all orders from wealthy or powerful constituents. One group has gone on record in voicing or calling out Republican Senators who voted for the amendment measure.

Veterans group comprised of 4500 members developed and posted an open letter to the 51 Republicans who voted for the amendment measure.
An open Letter to the 51 Senators who voted to sell off our public lands: Our country's public lands stand as a physical representation of the ideals in our Constitutional Republic that we, as veterans of this country, went to war to defend. Thousands, if not millions, of returning veterans have found solace, peace, and healing on our public lands. These are our national parks and monuments, our national forests and wilderness areas, our vast open spaces and lands closer to home. America's system of public lands should be safeguarded, not dismantled.
One year before the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, we should be working to connect more Americans of all stripes to our natural heritage, not cutting them off from it. It has been said that the national parks are America's Best Idea. That idea extends beyond just the parks to the concept of a public estate owned by all Americans, open to all Americans, and managed for the benefit of all Americans. Public lands are worth fighting for, they are at the root of our very democracy. 
In an era when the United States is struggling to figure out how to take care of its veterans, access to public lands and outdoor recreation have been a constant support, not just for veterans, but their families as well.  Whether it's climbing, hiking or just spending time reconnecting, America's public lands provide important opportunities to find new purpose and to enjoy the country we've given much to protect.    
Selling off our lands is an unpatriotic act that stands in direct violation of our country's responsibility to provide resources and support to those of us coming home from war. We fought for the public good which these lands represent. 
Selling these public lands means removing them from the public trust, putting private interests ahead of the public good. The selling off of these public lands would curtail access for veterans and their families and close down opportunities for them, and other Americans, to participate in the $646 billion outdoor economy. Public lands are the beating heart of economies across the country. They are where people go to hunt, to fish, to hike, and to camp. This visitation creates and supports local businesses and opportunities for many, including us as veterans.  
Senator Murkowski, public lands give us places to work. They give us places to heal. They give us places to find community and reintegrate home. These are things needed not just by veterans, but by all Americans. We fought for them, everyone deserves them.
[Over 4500 Signatures from Veterans]

The open letter will have impact on the Senators. Yet, the group banded together to voice their concerns with Senators supporting land sales in cases where only the wealthy can benefit. Why will the GOP ignore the concerns of the veterans. Has the GOP done anything to provide a better life for our vets? It is a rhetorical questions; we know the answer.

How about that Koch National Park?

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