House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah presses Obama Administration officials from the State Department and Homeland Security on what safeguards are in place to ensure that would-be extremists are not exploiting a variety of legal paths to travel to the U.S., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. At issue is how closely the U.S. government examines the background of people asking to come to the country, including reviews of their social media postings. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Chaffetz Kills Public Lands Bill After Backlash From Sporting Community

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced he is withdrawing a bill that would have sold off 3.3 million acres of public lands across 10 states following backlash from the sporting community.

The Disposal of Excess Federal Lans Act of 2017 (or H.R. 621) would have directed “the Secretary of the Interior to sell certain Federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, previously identified as suitable for disposal, and for other purposes.” This would have encompassed 3.5 million acres–  roughly the same size as the state of Connecticut.

Many saw this as a threat to access to hunting and fishing on public lands, so Chaffetz felt it was wise to withdraw the bill and let it die in the House Natural Resources Committee.

OutdoorLife reported on hunting group opposition to the bill:

Pheasants Forever shared a petition on its Facebook page the calls lawmakers to keep federal lands public. The petition has about 39,000 signatures and is a group effort supported by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Remington, Powderhook, National Wildlife Federation, and many others. Signing the petition online automatically sends the following letter to your local congressmen and women.

Many hunters and anglers are torn on management of public lands. Citing fears of an encroaching federal government, some in the sporting community would like to see the Bureau of Land Management and similar government entities reigned in for abuses in power. Others believe handing over control of public lands to states –even a smidgeon of it — will undermine the pristine nature of public lands. I myself am torn on this issue as a conservationist and angler–though I believe there could be some consensus achieved and less government meddling in hunter/angler rights.

Had this passed now, the consequences would have been dire.  Many in the sporting community heavily vote Republican and are conservative, so this would have alienated many in our base.  Good on Chaffetz to prioritize other legislative items. He and other House Republicans should turn their efforts into passing the Hearing Protection Act, which would deregulate suppressors.

About the author

Gabriella Hoffman

Gabriella Hoffman is a media strategist based in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. She has written for The Resurgent since March 2016 and serves as their D.C. Correspondent.

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