by Julie Mach
CMC Conservation Director
On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the 115th U.S. Congress spent the first day of its new session making it easier to sell off our national public lands.
The House quietly passed a “rules package” containing a provision to ensure all land-transfer proposals will be considered budget-neutral. The rule-change enables federal agencies to consider selling public lands without having to acknowledge or replace the revenue generated on those lands.
User fees, permit costs and leasing income become irrelevant in the argument to keep public lands in public hands. Despite the fact that public lands are a large source of government revenue, second only to taxes, this budgetary maneuver is designed to make it look like giving away public land would cost nothing.
The House’s action is a troubling step toward dismantling the public-lands system that makes Colorado an incredible place to live and play. Beyond the fiscal implications of this rule-change, we know that our National Parks, National Forests and Wildlife Refuges are invaluable for the climbing, hiking, camping, paddling, mountain biking, and skiing opportunities they provide.
More than 70 percent of Coloradans oppose public-lands seizure and, in 2016, the State Legislature created the first-ever Colorado Public Lands Day to celebrate these outdoor treasures.
We need you to fight for these public lands! Everyone who loves the outdoors must pay attention and lend their voices – loudly – so that our elected officials know there is a cost to their actions. Right now, make sure your member of Congress knows that if they vote to sell off our public lands, they will hear from you.