Member Alert )
March 2006


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(c) Peter Kuper-Used by permission

The latest plan for public lands:

If at first you don't succeed, propose something worse.

Late last year, anti-environmental ideologues in Congress came up with several plans to sell off chunks of the public domain. The biggest of these, put forward by Rep. Pombo of California, would have made it easier for mining companies to buy public land and sell it to developers. Thanks to you and lots of other people, the Pombo proposal went down in flames—but in its inimitable way, the Bush Administration has come up with not one, but two, bad proposals to take its place.

The Administration's 2007 budget includes a proposal to sell off 300,000 acres of National Forest land to pay for a rural schools program. It also contains a plan to expand a Bureau of Land Management land sale program and redirect the proceeds of the sales from land acquisition to the General Treasury. The BLM plan is the first in more than 20 years to hack off pieces of the public domain and sacrifice them to the ever-growing deficit.

Editorial pages across the country are fulminating against the national forest sell-off, citizens across the political spectrum hate the idea—and politicians are responding accordingly. Even the lesser-known BLM lands are getting some respect. Americans just don’t see public land as a commodity.

Neither plan has yet been written into legislation, but these rank proposals are going to keep coming, and citizens must respond.

The Forest Service has issued a list of potential sale lands on its national website, where you can look up your own state and/or Forest and see how much acreage, and where, could be up for grabs. The agency is also taking public comments on the proposal. It’s not necessary to study the list or pinpoint the parcels in your backyard—in fact, we recommend that you express opposition to the whole dumb idea rather than commenting on specific areas. The bottom line is that none of the land should be sold—and the welfare of rural school kids should not be tied to something this destructive!

There’s no equivalent process for the BLM land sales proposal; BLM offices don’t maintain definitive lists of lands considered “suitable for disposal” and the agency has not called for public comments. You’ll need to contact your members of Congress and tell them our public lands shouldn’t pay for wars and reckless planning.

Express your displeasure as follows

Forest lands: Links to information on the project (“Secure Rural Schools”) and a list of parcels can be found on the Forest Service website (see right margin)

The Federal Register Notice explaining how and where to comment is at: http://www.fs.fed.us/land/staff/rural/F ed% 20Reg%2006-1862.pdf

The email to which you can send comments is: SRS_Lan d_S ales@fs.fed.us

If you go to Google News and type in “national forest,” you’ll find scads of articles on the subject.

BLM lands: The most effective thing you can do is call your Senators and your Congressional Representative.

While you have them on the line, mention your opposition to the national forest deal, too. Thanks!

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