Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Week in Outdoor Policy - December 13th

MontanaTom Flynn tracks policy related to conservation and recreation for the Outdoor Alliance. Most Fridays, he summarizes the week’s top outdoor policy related headlines. With questions, news tips and angry hate mail, email him at tom [at] outdooralliance [dot] net.

Fed Land Grab Efforts Continue in Idaho…
Time to revisit everyone’s favorite public lands topic – the efforts of a slew of Western states to grab ownership or control of the Federal public lands within their borders. Last week in Idaho, the state legislative committee had another meeting, this one focused on public testimony. By most tallies it was a tie between those for it and those against. But the boosters, many of them from various tea party groups, had some jaw dropping arguments for state control – that rather than 50 second homes along one section of river, there should be 400, or that China will somehow repo our Federal lands. Statements like that aside, it is clear that many struggling counties in Idaho could benefit from improved public land management, even though state ownership is not the best way to get there.

...And Utah. And Montana.
Meanwhile, this week in Utah, the non-profit Southerland Institute’s Center for Self Government in the West released a legal analysis declaring the land grab totally constitutional, despite the opposite findings of the State’s own lawyers. The group’s URL is “endfedaddiction” and the shadowy, conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) seems to fund them, so you know they’re unbiased. This questionable finding followed another cautionary example of Utah making public lands decisions for financial gain alone, this time regarding water use for a proposed nuclear power plant. Speaking of unbiased (and ALEC), Utah Representative Ken Ivory was in Montana this week, spreading the good news about that state’s claim to Federal lands. His presentation came days after a public meeting where most came out to support Federal ownership. None of these skirmishes in ID, UT or MT advance the battle lines. Instead they show more and more how important it is for Federal public lands to stay in public hands.

New Conservation PAC Launched
It is a truth universally acknowledged that cash rules politics (see above). Given this regrettable reality, it is welcome news that former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and billionaire Louis Bacon (who incidentally just bought Taos) have teamed to up create the America’s Conservation PAC. As with other Political Action Committees, this one will funnel money into election campaigns, in this case for both Republican and Democratic candidates that are pro-conservation. Better news still is the appointment of Will Shafroth, a veteran of conservation in Colorado, as the director. Here’s to some political power for the rest of us.

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