by WorldTribune Staff, March 2, 2021
This land is not your land, this land is our land.
Republicans claim that is what House Democrats essentially said on Friday in passing legislation that would seal off nearly 3 million acres of public land in the Western United States.
Republicans called the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act a “massive land grab” that will kill jobs, increase the risk of devastating wildfires, and reduce Americans’ access to public lands.
The legislation, which passed by a vote of 227 to 200, will permanently set aside more than one million acres in Colorado; 821,000 acres in California; 132,000 acres in Washington, and more than one million acres in Arizona.
Rep. Tom McClintock, California Republican, said in a floor speech that the bill would declare an area the size of Delaware “a wilderness area, off limits to forest management, timber harvesting, and even many forms of public recreation.”
“An untended forest is like an untended garden,” McClintock said.” It will grow until it chokes itself to death and succumbs to disease, pestilence and ultimately catastrophic wildfire. These restrictions have abandoned our forests to neglect and produced the paradox of a severe national lumber shortage while the government sits on vast timber reserves.”
He warned that the restrictions would “create water shortages in some of the most water-abundant regions of our country.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican, said the bill would be “the largest land grab in Colorado’s history,” exacerbating the risk of catastrophic wildfires by limiting the Forest Service’s flexibility. “If this legislation were to become law, we would certainly face hotter, more widespread, and more dangerous fires.”
The legislation, which combined eight Democrat-sponsored bills, also withdraws 1.2 million acres from new oil and mining claims.
Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona Republican, said that the “massive land grab” would kill an estimated 4,000 jobs and cost $29 billion in sacrificed economic activity while leaving the nation even more dependent on Russia for uranium.
“The withdrawal area also contains 4,204 acres belonging to the Arizona State Land Department for the benefit of Arizona’s school children,” Gosar said. “This withdrawal will mean hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues for local communities and for our schools.”
Rep. Raul Grijalva, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, said: “Protecting our environment is not a matter of choice or political preference. It’s the only path forward for our country and our way of life.”
Included in the package was Grijalva’s Grand Canyon Protection Act, which bans future mining claims around the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona without touching existing claims.