Our public lands are not for sale

By Peter Martin

Dear Editor:

Congress just declared open season on federal lands, our national forests, national parks and BLM lands in their first move to attempt to sell off or transfer these lands to the states. They basically put a value on these lands of $0. That's right: worthless, so they can more easily dispose of them.

I declare open season on this fiscally irresponsible and flagrant attack on places and resources valued by all the American people, from hunters and sportsmen like me, to campers, hikers, snowmobilers and people who rely on forests and wildlife habitat to make a living.

This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue, but one that should ocncern all of us. Once these lands are gone or clearcut or sold to oil companies or the Koch brothers -- yes, these billionaires have been pushing this for years -- the land will be gone forever. We can never regain it.

An overwhelming majority of citizens want these lands to remain public and in the hands of the federal government because that is the only way to protect these lands from a complete sell-off to corporations and development. Proponents of this misguided and unconstitutional land-grab claim it will benefit local and state coffers, but that is smoke and mirrors to hide the cost of this theft. Our state makes over $40 billion a year from recreation and outdoor sports related to our public lands and the feds make a healthy profit off oil and gas leases.

No western states' budget can afford the management of federal lands and the congressman who advocate this are all being greased by Koch and big oil money. Let's put a stop to this and tell these people our public lands are not for sale!

Peter Martin