Senate transportation bill funds more federal government land grabs

By Rebekah Rast — The U.S. Senate has approved of a $109 billion bill that provides two years of funding for transportation and transit projects around the country.

The bill may or may not be taken up by the U.S. House Representatives depending on if they choose to write a separate House bill, but hopefully what will be left out of any final version is an amendment by Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.  His amendment funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to the tune of $1.4 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 — quite a jump from the $323 million it is currently receiving in FY 2012.

Why does the LWCF need such a boost from Congress?

This Fund helps purchase and protects lands across the country.  Evidently the line of thinking within the Senate is more U.S. lands are in need of being purchased and protected by the federal government.

The federal government owns almost 650 million acres of land in the U.S. That’s about 30 percent of all the land area in the nation and includes national parks, forests and wildlife refuges.  In other words, it’s equivalent to 1 out of every 3 acres in the U.S. — 1 out of every 2 acres in the West, says Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), a member on the Natural Resources Committee and ranking member on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

And now the Senate thinks the government needs even more land.

Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association located in Washington State, has dedicated his life to stopping federal land grabs and limiting trust funds such as the LWCF.  He says this big boost of funds from the Senate endangers all land owners in or near federally protected lands.

“Inholders, owners of private property within federally owned areas, will be threatened first,” Cushman warns.  “This is no Smokey the Bear coming in, this is heavy-handed, land-buying gangsters that don’t care how many landowners get hurt.”

These massive land grabs have had proven negative impacts on job markets, economic development, education and tax revenues for those states that house these lands.

For example, the state of Utah is already at a disadvantage when it comes to funding for its education system.  About two-thirds of the state, almost 70 percent, is owned by the federal government.  Though the federal government said much of this land would be sold upon the state achieving statehood and that 5 percent of the proceeds would go directly to fund education, it has yet to happen.

With two-thirds of the land already swallowed by the federal government, Utah’s education revenue comes from the land it has left.  Of that land that is left, about only about 7 percent is designated as school trust land, Cody Stewart, legislative director for Rep. Bishop, told Americans for Limited Government (ALG) in a previous interview.  The rest of the land is at risk of falling into the hands of the federal government.

Furthermore, other Western states face the dilemma of housing lands that are so protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and forestry laws that nothing can be done on them.

The logging industry in Washington State is virtually gone. Because of protected forestry laws, small towns that survived off of the logging industry were choked out.

“The forest service holds life or death over the timber industry,” says Don Todd, director of research for ALG. “They have leases that decide where to sell timber or whether or not a road can be built to get the timber out.”

Another issue facing states like Washington, Oregon and California is the ESA.  Since 1990, the Northern spotted owl has been on the endangered species list.  This owl also contributed to the demise of the logging industry in all three states since the forest land where the owl lives wasn’t allowed to be touched.

Some land the government owns is put to good use for people to enjoy, like the national parks.  But those parks come at a cost.  In 2010, it was announced that the National Park Service needed about $9.5 billion just to clear its backlog of the necessary improvements and repairs.  At a time when our existing national parks are suffering, does it make sense for the federal government to grab new lands?  How does the government expect to fund any of its new acquisitions?

Likely the same way the government pays for everything else it acquires — with a printing press or an IOU.

“If anything the federal government should be evaluating lands that could be sold back to the private sector rather than spending more money we don’t have to build federal land fiefdoms,” says Bill Wilson, president of ALG.

Cushman reiterates his original warning, “There is no oversight here.  This is like handing a blank check over to the LWCF,” he says.

Cushman and landowners across the country hope that in the U.S. House of Representatives’ transportation bill no such handout is given to the LWCF.

“This takes huge amounts of land off the tax base for communities,” Cushman concludes.  “It does not create jobs nor does it lower the deficit.  I just don’t understand how the government owning more land helps anything.”

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

This article has 34 comments
  • Jrm1124 19.03.2012 1:51 PM

    agenda 21

  • eosbun 19.03.2012 1:57 PM

    STOP this project funding and land grab NOW!

  • Gaybinator 19.03.2012 1:58 PM

    If you understood Agenda 21 and the Wildlands Project, there would be NO QUESTION what this is all about. Only 20% to go?

    http://www.panhandlepatriots.com/AGENDA_21.html
    http://www.agenda21today.com
    http://www.freedomadvocate.org
    http://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com

  • lucky7m 19.03.2012 2:38 PM

    All goes hand in hand with Onumnuts Executive order Fri 16th.

  • DocJohnM 19.03.2012 3:22 PM

    Even though I do not like logging, I see it’s importance to a very competitive market and without, the loss of jobs and even towns that sprang up to support the industry. The Federal Government now wants complete control of land and every other aspect of our lives. I see “the handwriting on the wall.” China virtually owns us and is seeking natural resources including potable water which they’re running out. Obama the Incompetant would think nothing of signing over these resources. We can only print money for so long with potentially no real financial backing and that time is running out.

  • Ccushman 19.03.2012 3:46 PM

    People should call their Congressman every day this week and next to oppose the Senate Transportation Bill with the Land and Water Conservation Funds (Land Grab) inside.  Any Congressman may be called at (202) 225-3121.  Your action is urgent.  

  • Ccushman 19.03.2012 3:46 PM

    People should call their Congressman every day this week and next to oppose the Senate Transportation Bill with the Land and Water Conservation Funds (Land Grab) inside.  Any Congressman may be called at (202) 225-3121.  Your action is urgent.  

  • Lrevalee 19.03.2012 4:07 PM

    The American people, the citizens, own all the land within the limits of the United States and its terrorities, for they are the government.  All of the land under our control, with the exception of that designated as National Parks, should be open to the public for settlement and building their own homes.  Instead, those we have selected as our leaders are attempting to take away all private ownership of land, propety, business, or anything else.  They want everything under control of the government, or in other words, the elite ruling class which they consider themselves as part of.  The Socialist in our government, our media, and entertainment field, are making every attempt to make this a socialist government, with a dictator type rule.  Those of us wishing to keep our rights to live as a free and independent people, must do everything in our power to see that they do not succeed.

  • Poppo 19.03.2012 5:17 PM

    The Government already has more land than it can (mis)manage!

  • Norma Rogers 19.03.2012 5:26 PM

    This is very serious.  We were in a country in East AFrica in the 70′s when the” green
    revolution  came into being.  They seized everyones land and homes.. collective
    farming was tried and failed.  Land owners could do nothing.  Soon the “red” revolution  with all the bloodshed took over.  May God keep us from this fate.

  • Graywolf 19.03.2012 6:17 PM

    It is intended to control oil, minerals, and water. Look where it is in control and research what is on/ under the surface.  POWER GRAB!!!!!!!

  • Hotnike 19.03.2012 8:34 PM

    Damn,  Typical government mis-thinking’

  • papa727 19.03.2012 8:58 PM

    Watch seed of satan’s  aka o’dummie other hand 

  • reggiec 19.03.2012 10:13 PM

    Both the Forest Service under the Department of Agriculture and The Bureau of Land Management under the Department of Interior have caused serious financial problems for land owners. They both require “grants of right of way” for land owners who need access across federal lands to reach their property. The problem is that many financial organizations do not trust government agencies to keep those roads open because of the past actions of both the BLM and Forest Service. Why would a financial institution take the risk of making a loan if in the future the government could close the only access to a property and make the property basically worthless?
    It is my belief that all federally controlled land in the United States should be returned to the states with the only exception being current military bases. The states in cooperation with their subdivisions could then decide what the land use should be. If they wanted to sell some they could. If the people of the state or its political subdivisions desired to set some aside for recreation or preservation they could do so.The one policy fits all edicts issued by the federal government border on insanity at times. I am personally aware of several instances where governmental policies favoring fanatic environmentalists have reached a plateau that can only be labeled as extreme. The words idiotic and insane also come to mind.”When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and nobody has a direct interest in maintaining or improving its condition. That is why buildings in the Soviet Union — like public housing in the United States — look decrepit within a year or two of their construction…”~ Milton Freidman

  • rbblum 20.03.2012 12:26 AM

    The failed path of global colonialism has led former great empires to feed upon themselves.

  • Klinder 20.03.2012 1:20 PM

    So what action can we take to prevent this from passing? Write our representative?

  • Gaybinator 20.03.2012 2:48 PM

     Call your Congressman and make sure that they understand that the Baucus Amendment is in the Senate version. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the House sign on to the Senate version of the Transportation Bill! Address that the LWCF shouldn’t have that much money. If anything the federal government should be divesting itself of land and put it back in private hands. We don’t have the money to be buying land anyway.

  • Ccushman 20.03.2012 3:13 PM

    Senate Transportation Bill Land and Water Conservation Fund sneak attack by the US Senate.  You have a good chance to stop the bill in the House by calling, writing and e-mailing your Congressman.  Call any Congressman at (202) 225-3121.  Ask for the staff person who handles the Transportation Bill or Land and Water Conservation Fund.  Call your neighbors and friends.  Go to http://www.landrights.org or write ccushman@pacifier.com for more information.  It is urgent that you act now.

  • USDizPE 20.03.2012 4:14 PM

    While you are correct, please be clear. The citizens of the US (i.e. the legal government) does not own all the land.  This land does not belong to you and me (from California to the New York Islands…).  Constitutionally, this land belongs to the person(s) who hold the title of ownership.  The expansion of “imminent domain” has made everyone susceptible to government confiscation of their family farm..

  • Stella 20.03.2012 6:50 PM

     The land around The Current River and Jacks Forks in Mo was overtaken by the Government  and they called it The Ozark National River Ways and then sold it to private businesses along the river and now you can’t fish there around Eminence in some places and camp grounds that charge fees to stay there and at the Current River. It is used mainly by city people and is their playground.

  • ricecakepatty 22.03.2012 11:10 PM

    I BELIEVE THE LAND GRAB IS GOING ON BECAUSE OF OUR DEBT . SHOULD CHINA HIT US UP FOR THEIR MONEY AND WE DON’T HAVE IT , OBAMA WILL GIVE UP OUR LAND TO THEM ( CHINA ) . THIS IS THE ACE THEY BELIEVE THEY ARE HOLDING .  OBAMA IS NOT AN AMERICAN CITIZEN AND HE COULD CARE LESS . IF THIS MAKES SENCE TO YOU  , YOU CAN AGREE . I NEVER PUT ANYTHING PASS AN EVIL MAN LIKE HIM , HE IS SINKING US INTO SO MUCH DEBT  , WE WILL NEVER GET OUT OF IT .
    HE THINKS HE CAN TAKE HIS MONEY AND RUN WHEN HE IS READY OR HE THINKS HE WILL BE RULER OVER THIS COUNTRY . I NEVER RAN INTO SO MANY PEOPLE WHO HATE HIM AS I SEE NOW .

  • Emily 29.03.2012 11:32 AM

    It is a very simple action to complete the Agenda 21…Everyone should read about that. It really comes down to the New world Order with the group of elite that will rule the planet. 

  • Hold_Politicians_Accountable 03.04.2012 4:27 PM

    All of our politicians need to be held accountable including candidates. We can start by holding Congress responsible for not standing up for american citizens that they are suppose to serve. Send this to everybody on your mailing list. Recommend it on Facebook, Tweet it. Ask everybody you can to do the same. We need all the signatures we can get.
    What we need is http://www.petition2congress.com/6195/congressional-reform-act-to-fix-congress/

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