Trump tries privatizing public lands

SUBHEAD: Hunters and Fishers score quick kill on Republican plan to sell western public lands.

By Kirsten Downey on 6 February 2017 for Civil Beat -

Image above: After the state the Federal government is the largest owner of land in Hawaii including the land around Haleakala on Maui shown here. Photo by the Good Reverend Flash. From original article.

A congressional land grab of 3.3 million acres didn’t sit well with groups that use public lands, a significant issue for Hawaii, too.

The first attack on public lands under the Trump administration came fast, and it died fast, too.
Responding to ferocious public pressure generated by two upstart public-lands advocacy groups, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has dropped his plan to force the sale of 3.3 million acres of federal land in the western United States to the highest bidder.
The federal government owns 20 percent of the land in Hawaii including Haleakala National Park on Maui.

“Political activism is the only way to protect public lands from President Trump and his cheerleaders in Congress, and it works,” said U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, ranking minority member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

The Democrats on the committee haven’t gotten a lot of vocal support from the public for the past few years — with President Barack Obama in office, people thought their efforts weren’t needed — so he and his staffers watched the developments unfold, first with worry, and then with surprise and admiration.

What happened to the measure, H. R. 621, The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2017, has important consequences for Hawaii as well. 

About 20 percent of the land in Hawaii is owned by the federal government, falling under three basic jurisdictions — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Defense Department. What happens to one set of federal lands can easily happen to another.

Hawaii U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will be playing a major role watching over federal lands. 

On January 24th she was named ranking member of the federal lands subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, which will give her jurisdiction over the National Park system, national trails, historic and prehistoric sites on federal lands, Forest Service and wildlife resources.


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