Lands-Transfer Advocates Switch Their Pitch Thanks To Politics
The American Lands Council is a non-profit that’s been promoting the idea of transferring federal lands to the states. With the political shift in Washington, the group is taking on a new focus.
This is what Doug Heaton, a former Kane County Commissioner who sits on its board, explained last month to members of the Utah’s Constitutional Defense Council. He said failed policies have led to problems, like devastating wildfires and damaged watersheds, and he urged members to pledge $115,000 towards developing and promoting new strategies for managing federal lands.
“We got to help the public, and particularly policy makers, understand what the long-, intermediate- and, and short-term solutions are,” he said, touting what’s called the Federal Land Policy Reform Project.
The nonprofit’s defining issue has been the transfer-of-public lands in the West.
Democrat Brian King is Minority Leader in the Utah House of Representatives and a member of the CDC. He said the lands council was pivoting because it can’t muster support for that idea even with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House.
“What I’d like to hear is a little more frank acknowledgement that what we’ve tried to do (in the state Legislature) for five years has failed,” King said to fellow members of the state panel. “And that we, who opposed this for the past five years, have been vindicated.”
King voiced support for the lands council’s new focus: working together to improve how public lands are managed. So did the CDC’s lands-transfer supporters.
“During those years of the Obama administration, we had a very, very liberal movement to close a lot of our public land down,” said CDC member, Leland Pollack, a Garfield County Commissioner. “But now that we’ve held the line, it’s time that we move forward and not say who did what, back and forth, and get something done.”
The state board didn’t have the money the lands group requested. But the request might go to state lawmakers, who already have budgeted $4.5 million for a lands-transfer lawsuit.