Leaders of 9 western states meet to take land back from federal govt

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The United States of America was founded, not as a centralized state wherein all power is concentrated in the central government, but as a federation wherein political power is diffused by dividing it between a national (federal) government and the republic’s constituent state governments.

Our Founders conceived federalism as one of the institutional mechanisms to check and balance political power so as to prevent government from being so dictatorial as to become a threat to the People’s inherent rights and liberties.

This founding principle of federalism is codified in the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

But America has been drifting away from the founding vision, with the federal government amassing more and more power, and the presidency becoming increasingly imperial.

For the first time, political leaders of NINE western states have convened to talk about wresting control of state lands away from the federal government.

Western states lawmakersL to r: Montana House Speaker Mark Blasdel, Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart (photo by Scott Sommerdorf, Salt Lake Tribune)

Kristen Moulton reports for The Salt Lake Tribune that on April 18, 2014, more than 50 political leaders (state legislators and county commissioners) from 9 western states convened a daylong closed-door meeting in Salt Lake City, the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Landsto talk about wresting control of their oil-, timber- and mineral-rich lands away from the federal government.

The nine western states were Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

The summit was organized by Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory and Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder. U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) also attended the meeting and addressed the group over lunch.

The summit, described by Ivory as “It’s simply time. The urgency is now,” had already been in the works before this month’s tense standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management over cattle grazing.

Utah Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart said, “What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem.” She emphasized that the states’ intent was never to take over national parks and wilderness created by an act of Congress. “We are not interested in having control of every acre. There are lands that are off the table that rightly have been designated by the federal government.”

Montana state Sen. Fielder said federal land management is hamstrung by bad policies, politicized science and severe federal budget cuts: “Those of us who live in the rural areas know how to take care of lands. We have to start managing these lands. It’s the right thing to do for our people, for our environment, for our economy and for our freedoms.”

Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke said, “It’s time the states in the West come of age. We’re every bit as capable of managing the lands in our boundaries as the states east of Colorado.” As evidence, Bedke pointed to how Idaho’s state-managed forests and rangeland have suffered less damage and watershed degradation from wildfire than lands managed by federal agencies.

Utah state Rep. Ivory said the issue is of interest to urban as well as rural lawmakers, in part because they see oilfields and other resources that could be developed to create jobs and fund education. Moreover, the federal government’s debt threatens both its management of vast tracts of the West as well as its ability to come through with payments in lieu of taxes to the states. Utah gets 32% of its revenue from the federal government, much of it unrelated to public lands. Ivory warns, “If we don’t stand up and act, seeing that trajectory of what’s coming … those problems are going to get bigger.”

In 2013, Utah’s state legislature passed HB142, which was sponsored by Ivory and signed by Gov. Gary Herbert. HB142 demands the federal government make good on its promises in the 1894 Enabling Act for Utah to become a state, by relinquishing title to federal lands in Utah. A study is underway at the University of Utah to analyze how Utah could manage the land now in federal control.

None of the other Western states has gone as far as Utah, demanding Congress turn over federal lands. But five have task forces or other analyses underway to get a handle on the costs and benefits.


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0 responses to “Leaders of 9 western states meet to take land back from federal govt

  1. Awesome post…less federal involvement, more states’ rights. The federal government has grown into a cancer that is metastasizing all over the country, esp in the west. Here is a link about the Bundy situation but it also includes a very informative map of US land owned by federal government. I was quite surprised when I saw how much of the west the federal government “owns”.

    • Thanks MommofIV—-almost 85% of Nev. belongs to the Feds! CA is # 6 w/45%. Living in CA presently,, I went to BLM CA web site to see what they are workiing on w/US tax money–without voter apprroval:
      1.. Tyler Horse Wind Energy Project
      2. Temporary land closures for an approved race (code words for—-overland desert hotrod or motorcycle races….wonder how many turtles they will run over??))
      3.. How to manage Rt. 66
      4. Revokiing a shooting range in San Diego Co.
      5..Ocotillo Solar Facility project & how they might protect a lizard on the solar project property

      You tell me—what are some things wrong with this picture?? I have a huge opinion on this as a citizen…..but would like to hear from others to see if they see what I see….or am I just a crank—-or as it may be…just another Bundy??

      • Hey CalGirl,
        I noticed NO ONE from California was there to represent the best interests of Californians. I’m a Californian and I know this state is in the federal government’s back pocket. With the “election” of rainbow brownstain (even RINO schwarzenegger and shades-of-gray davis), CA has ceased to represent the people and instead represents special interests and corporations who pay the most…hmmmm, just like the fed govt. They reneged on prop 8 and are fighting the people on the disgusting bathroom bill, don’t enforce immigration, enforced common core (which the people don’t want), made CA a pro-abortion state (abortion “right”), won’t enforce measures to change central CA irrigation habits…the so-called “drought”, the list goes on and on. The legislature from the top to the bottom needs to be recalled. Also, the Ocotillo Solar Facility Project seems to parallel Bundy. I wonder if there is a connection between who owns these solar companies (is it Chinese for CA as well?) and federal gov grabbing land (with or without Hairy Reid). We need to stand up and FIGHT THE POWER…the governments and power companies.

        • YES! MomofIV, I thought you were in CA! Are we the only 2 Californicated U.S. citizens who think like this? Newsflash! California is long-lost. Might as well crack off and float out into the Pacific with the next big quake. I’m in the Inland Empire, which, 30 years ago was solid Conservative Ronald Reagan Land…..and today, you can’t even slap on a conservative or Republican bumper sticker for fear of being vandalized, car-jacked or burned out. Same with my teacher-workplace—the Union supports Rainbow Brown and Obama ( and remember—Pelosi ) implicitly. God Bless Issa…..I don’t care if he ever appears a “crank’ or a whiner….he’s the only one fr CA trying to go after the grievous Constitutional trespasses foisted upon us by the Obama admin and his cronies….I only hope he can hold up the whole way through the administration and into the next, b/c that’s what it’s going to take for us to find out “the REST of the STORY.”

          • CalGirl,
            I think there are more conservatives in CA than what the numbers say…the silent majority of conservatives need to speak up. I’m from Southern Cali. I’m for the secession of the state into separate states, only because I’m sick of these whackjobs running this state into the ground. I like Issa, I also like McClintiock. I just wonder how hard it will be to wrestle the land from the federal government

  2. RE: “1894 Enabling Act”…a promise that the Feds would relinquish federally –held lands in Utah TO Utah as a state….Isn’t 120 years enough time to wait? Way past time to act. If all states did it—-maybe we”d get the economy and the energy business going again—-put OPEC out of business…or at least out off our faces/purses. Though, I suppose the Feds would subsequently regulate it into impossibility for all uses except FED-directed political pawning.

  3. It’s about damned time. I have made the case for this over and over for a long time.

  4. Yes, make the states more than something that take $300 in taxes per year and give you traffic tickets on the highway in our federal system…

  5. Gotta say that this looks like more prep for the “west vs. east” second civil war. The experiences from the past should tell us the states don’t truely care about the citizenry, or the land, their past behaviors are indicative of present ones, this is likely just a ploy to get re-elections and tenure as per usual, while also setting things up for the longer term scheme of civil war… that’s my guess.

    We don’t need “states” trying to “get control” of anything, given that the states are just mini-clones of the same puppet show over in D.C. and are equally as unqualified. Until we can get local and state governments that are clean all-through of the devil worshiping corrupt puppets, then nothing will change. Every last one of those “officials” needs Christ as much as any regular citizen does, some may think they have found him, but most likely just follow the tune of the various false prophets, and doctrines of devils. Without Folks in positions of authority that follow the True and Legitimate authority of Christ/God, then we will continue to see these “leaders” being lead by evil. Not that being Christian is, by any means, an immunization to the tactics of evil, but it does certainly help to have God’s guidance to be able to see through the schemes of the devil. (“Be wise as serpents, but innocent as doves.”)

  6. This is a small but important step. These governors have met. There is a rally coming up in Washington on May 16th. Others have spoken out. Gun owners in New York and Connecticut are refusing to comply with the new gun laws. Bit by bit, step by step, people are speaking out, stepping up and waking up.
    Ann Barnhardt makes an important distinction here. These people are not planning “revolution.” The revolution has been in progress for quite some time, begun by the government. Because revolution means a turning away from God. Rather, counter-revolution is called for. These governors and gun owners, Promise Keepers and retired generals are the tip of the iceberg. Our time SHALL come—but this is going to get more complicated yet.

  7. I was surprised to see Nevada listed,as our Governor,so far,seems to “sleep” right through all these calls to action,except this last “Confiscation Attempt” at the Bundy Ranch.

  8. Hey truckjunkie—I’m not bagging on you specifically, (not your fault) but–if Feds own over 85% of Nevada…why do we even call you a state?? You are a territory, unless, like Bundy says…you take the land within your state boundaries into your state tax/management oversight. So, right now…I’d say, 85%-plus Federal land means 1) you have President Harry Reid at your helm –b/c, after all, he has a say in what happens in 85%-plus of your land, &, 2) you are not only NOT a state, you are the sum total of two cities—Vegas & Reno. THAT’S why you haven’t heard from your governor. He has no power except for the concerns of less than 15% of the governable land in Nevada (as noted, Harry has the rest). I didn’t realize it was this bad until the Bundy revolt & the Federal BLM land map MomofIV directed us to. And, it IS THAT bad. You can’t trick out a BLM map. Can’t spin it. It’s a graph, it’s geography, it’s on the books, it’s the REASON armed snipers were empowered to round up the Bundy cows & aim guns at women, children, average American supporters, & old cowboys on horses who THOUGHT they were living in a country where state and federal governments SHARED powers that allowed them local control, with a federal union overall. You think they’d do this federal round up in Rhode Island? You think the governor of Rhode Island would speak up federal snipers rounded up his citizens and their cash assets?

    At my house, we think this Bundy thing is the “Rosa Parks” moment for people who are at the end of their ropes in regard to our Constitutional Bill of Rights in response to the Obama administration’s transgressions. Since Holder is his chief lawyer of the land…it might not get far until Obama and Holder are gone…but…this is NOT going away. I hope the Western states keep pursuing what the recent Western leadership of these several states started….It’s an end game and the states will eventually win their poorly defined/mangaged (BLM) lands (PS…did you know the BLM employs 10,000 people???? It’s like the EPA….huge, and no one knows what they all do…including the people who work there…except that there are regulations up the whazoo…and they are growing in number year by year, even if no one really knows what they mean or how or when to enforce them—until a Senator or politically involved Washington player needs to enforce one thing or another for their own ends….AND it’s not a by-God turtle…you can bet your bippie on that one).

    • Well said CalGirl.

      • Cal Girl the blm in this area used to be 3. Then when there were more they have to justify their existence and they come up with some real thoughtless plans. One year they banded the young foals and forgot that foals grow …they died. Another time they were going to put a fence around all the wild horses…yeah like we know all the places horses water and feed.

  9. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this incredible post. Good for these western states! And thank you Dr. Eowyn for reminding American citizens of the importance of the Tenth Amendment!

  10. This time when I hit the Like button, I like not only the post, but the action the post is reporting.


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