Another theft of the public wealth on tap -
"Like much else in government, U.S. public land policy is a vestige of the past, established in 1910 when America's population was just 92.2 million and a Western state such as Nevada had only 81,000 residents.
Today our needs are much different and much greater. The U.S. can no longer afford to keep tens of millions of acres of "public" land out of service. Some of these lands have great commercial value; others are environmental treasures. We need policies capable of distinguishing between the two.
Few Easterners realize the immense magnitude of the public lands. The federal government's holdings include about 58 million acres in Nevada, or 83 percent of the state's total land mass; 45 million acres in California (45 percent of the state); 34 million acres in Utah (65 percent); 33 million acres in Idaho (63 percent); and more than a fourth of all the land in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming.
Most public land decisions are made by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, and involve matters such as the number of cows that will be allowed to graze, the areas available to off-road recreational vehicles, the prevention and fighting of forest fires, the building of local roads, the amount of timber harvesting, the leasing of land for oil and gas drilling, mineral rights and other such details. Outside the rural West, most such decisions are made by private landowners or by state and local governments.
Like other grand designs of the "progressive" era, public land policy has failed the test of time. Public lands have not been managed efficiently to maximize national benefits but instead in response to political pressures. Past mismanagement has turned many national forests into flammable tinderboxes.
Rural Westerners receive significant financial benefits when the federal government pays for many of their local roads and conservation services and provides many high-paying local federal jobs. Increasingly, however, they are questioning the trade-offs involved.
Daniel Kemmis, the former Democratic speaker and minority leader of the Montana House and onetime mayor of Missoula, has lamented that "our public lands ... are burdened by a steadily more outdated regulatory and governing framework."
Probably no more than 20 percent of the tens of millions of acres of public lands are nationally important, requiring federal oversight and protection. This includes 45 million acres of Forest Service and BLM lands in the national wilderness system and other environmentally special areas such as BLM's Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
An additional 60 percent, perhaps, are ordinary lands, used principally for recreational purposes, such as hiking, hunting, fishing and off-road-vehicle use. Most of the remaining public lands are useful primarily for commercial purposes, such as the timber-rich forests in the Pacific Northwest.
A rational public lands policy more suited to current and future needs would put the nationally important lands into a newly reorganized federal environmental protection system. Ordinary recreational lands would be managed at the state and local level, perhaps by transferring them to local counties. What better steward of a local recreation area than the people who live in the area?
The commercially most valuable lands, meanwhile, would be transferred to new ownership or put under long-term federal leases. Lands that have real commercial value could produce a double benefit: revenue from leases and land sales, and additional revenue from the jobs, minerals, oil, gas, lumber and other commodities the freed-up lands would produce.
It is time to end outdated federal land policies that are draining our country's wealth, tying up valuable resources in red tape and bureaucracy, and harming the environment.
Robert H. Nelson is a senior fellow with the Independent Institute in Oakland. A longer version of this article appears in the current issue of Policy Review.
I'll just confine myself to this tidbit: "Like other grand designs of the "progressive" era, public land policy has failed the test of time. Public lands have not been managed efficiently to maximize national benefits but instead in response to political pressures
Like how the squirrel got in the word "Progressive"? Anyone ever read history books about how it was the 'Conservatives' who had the brains to 'conserve' the land?
Now the kicker in these sentences is that yes, political pressure has indeed made a mess in many parts of the national forest / BLM. But then who brings the political pressure? You guessed it - oil and gas companies, mining companies, logging companies, etc. - the same ones this guy wants to sell the land to.
Here is a link that might be useful: link