October 3, 2013 - National Parks remain closed due to the government shutdown, but while visitors are locked out, Congress is busy trying to open Yosemite to logging - and other special public lands are being proposed for sale to local states for energy and mineral exploration.
Despite the shutdown, congressional committees have been holding hearings. One in the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday drew attention to opening public lands, but not for visitors.
The committee is considering a bill that would not only open 3.3 million acres of public lands for sale, but would mandate them to be auctioned off.
The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2013 (H.R. 2657) proposes to sell lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming to reduce the federal deficit. This is the result of a persistent threat from state governments.
The irony is that recent park closures are revealing just how important these places are economically.
For example, the park service loses $450,000 in entrance fees every day. And in Utah, $4.4 million is being lost every day. Utah is the state represented by Rep. Jason Chaffetz who proposed the bill.
Unfortunately, this isn't the only bill under consideration that would undermine public land. Other bad bills being considered are:
- Yosemite Rim Fire Emergency Salvage Act (H.R. 3188), which would override bedrock laws and the courts to allow logging in Yosemite and other public lands, including wilderness areas.
- Small Lands Tracts Conveyance Act (H.R. 1633), which would giveaway vast swaths of our public lands, including Forest Service, wilderness and BLM lands, to state, county and local governments for oil, gas and mineral rights and sales.
"While America's national monuments and parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests remain shutdown to you and me, the House Natural Resources Committee is still finding the time to attack our public lands," said Alan Rowsome, senior director of government relations for lands at The Wilderness Society.
While Congress debates reopening your beloved national parks, they are simultaneously considering selling off those same special places. America's wild lands should be open for the American people to enjoy them, not just for those interested in logging, mining and drilling them.
View The Wilderness Society's letter on the bills below:
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