Land Seizure Advocates(Like Jennifer Fielder) join Zinke’s Calls to Gut Monuments

Fringes of the conservative movement demand end to landscape-level monuments, after Zinke issued recommendation to shrink them

Leading proponents of the movement to transfer control over national public lands to states are echoing calls by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to lift protections for national monuments that include iconic landscapes across the American West.

Secretary Zinke has recommended that President Trump substantially shrink national monuments. In a letter to the President, a host of advocates for allowing states to seize national lands have called for an end to several monuments in the West that were also targeted in Secretary Zinke’s recommendations.

“If Secretary Zinke removes protections on even an acre of public land in places like Bears Ears or Grand Staircase-Escalante then he is giving the land seizure community exactly what they want,” said Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project. “Make no mistake: Anyone who wants to end protections for national monuments, whether it’s Secretary Zinke, Jennifer Fielder, or Cliven Bundy, is on the wrong side of the West and our outdoor heritage.”

The movement to transfer national public lands came into sharp focus during the Bundy family’s violent takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and the standoff around the Gold Butte area of Nevada, which has recently been protected through a national monument designation.

Signers of the letter that support transferring national lands to states include:

Jennifer Fielder, American Lands Council and Montana State Representative

Jennifer Fielder is the CEO of the American Lands Council, an organization whose goal is to transfer federal public lands to states. [“Our Mission,” American Lands Council, accessed 10/19/17]

Myron Ebell, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Myron Ebell wrote that “the federal government owns far more land than it can take care of properly.” Ebell advised that Congress should “defund the Land and Water Conservation Fund” and also “enact legislation to comply with Utah’s Transfer of Public Lands Act.” [Myron Ebell, “Environmental Protection on Private and Public Lands: Shrink the Federal Estate: A pro-growth Acenda for the 115th Congress” Competitive Enterprise Institute, accessed 10/19/17]

Craig Rucker, CFACT

Craig Rucker supports transferring federal public lands to states and referred to federal land ownership as “‘bondage.’” He said, “‘As long as the heavy hand of the federal government holds sway over the rural West, Western states will remain little more than colonies of the distant government in Washington… Widespread private ownership of rural land has worked very well elsewhere in the United States, where our farms, ranches, orchards, and tree farms are the envy of the world. Similarly, most of [sic] nation’s fracking-driven energy boom is taking place on private land. It’s time to end the bondage of the rural West.’” [Bonner Cohen, “States Challenge Federal Control of Western Lands,” The Heartland Institute, 1/26/15]

Former California Senate Minority Leader Dennis Hollingsworth

Dennis Hollingsworth criticized federal land ownership in testimony to the US House of Representatives. He advocated for “establishing an entirely new foundation” for conservation because conservation is currently “shackled to the idea that Washington bureaucrats can come up with a government solution through national land use control.” [“Prepared Testimony of Dennis Hollingsworth,” United States House of Representatives Committee on Resources, 5/18/95]

Gail Griffin, Arizona State Senator

Gail Griffin is a member of the Arizona Legislature’s “Transfer of Federal Lands Study Committee.” The committee’s goal is to “develop processes for this State to receive title to public lands from the federal government.” [“Transfer of Federal Lands Study Committee,” Arizona Legislature, Accessed On 10/19/17]

Judy Boyle, Idaho State Representative

Judy Boyle, in 2016, wrote a bill in the Idaho state legislature that began by “laying out a belief that federal ownership of so much of Idaho’s land is unconstitutional and that a transfer of lands to the state would ‘fulfill the promise made in the U.S. Constitution, the Idaho Constitution, the Idaho Admissions Act and congressional acts under the equal footing doctrine.’” [Nathan Brown, “No Claim to Fed Land under ‘Equal Footing’ Theory, AG Says,” Magic Valley Times-News, 3/16/16]

Judy Boyle, during the Malhuer standoff, “went to Burns, Oregon in support of Ammon Bundy.” [“Going to Extremes,” Center for Western Priorities, 7/7/17]

Judy Boyle, in 2017, said she “plans to introduce multiple public-lands bills for the second straight year. Two of them deal with how the state would manage land if it were transferred, and which transferred lands, if any, could be sold off.” [Eric Tegethoff, “Opening Salvos in Public Lands Transfer Fight,” Public News Service, 1/6/17]

George Rasley, Former Assistant Director of NPS

George Rasley wrote an article criticizing former BLM director Pat Shea for opposing Ken Ivory’s goal to transfer federal lands to states. [George Rasley, “The BLM’s Real Motive In The Bundy Ranch & Texas Land Grabs,” Conservative HQ, 4/24/14]

Lewis K. Uhler, President of National Tax Limitation Foundation

Lewis Uhler praised legislative efforts that “demanded that Washington turn over to each of their states federal lands within those states” because private land ownership and management is “key to our nation’s growth and success.” [Lewis Uhler, “Free The American People And Land From Overregulation,”Investors Business Daily, 4/25/14]

Michael Needham, Utah Shared Access Alliance

The Shared Access Alliance, in 2010, organized a “rally against the federal government’s policies towards Utah’s public lands” and promoted legislation from Utah Rep. Mike Noel “that would challenge federal control of certain public lands.” [Christian Vanderhooft, “Utah Legislators Energize States’ Rights Rally,” Salt Lake Tribune, 2/23/10]

E. Calvin Beisner, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

E. Calvin Beisenr wrote that one of Zinke’s “weaknesses” is that he “rejects (the) idea of returning much federal land to state and private ownership” and he “supports funding (the) Land and Water Conservation Fund.” [E. Calvin Beisner, “Strengths and Weaknesses of Tillerson and Zinke,” Cornwall Alliance, 2/3/17]

Caroline Joy Hadley, RANGE Magazine

Range Magazine published an article, titled “Knowledge and Courage,” advocating for the transfer of public lands to states. [Ken Ivory, “Knowledge and Courage,” Range Magazine, Winter 2014]

Howard Hutchinson, Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties

Howard Hutchinson was a “leading proponent of the county sovereignty movement.” In 1994, he supported Catron County’s effort to declare “sovereignty over government lands” and threats “to arrest federal officials.” [Frank Clifford, “Cow County Tells U.S. to Back Off : Land use: A slice of the Old West declares joint sovereignty over government lands and threatens to arrest federal officials,” Los Angeles Times, 4/4/94]

Carol LaGrasse, Property Rights Foundation of America

The Property Rights Foundation of America’s website says its first goal is to “stand for private ownership of land and resources.” LaGrasse believes that “the maintenance of local rather than federal ownership of land is also an obvious, fundamental advantage.”

[“Our Goals,” Property Rights Foundation for America, Accessed 10/19/17 and Carol W. LaGrasse, “National Wildlife Refuge Draft Bill Threatens Trenton,” Property Rights Foundation for America, 2/1/04]


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