On July 15, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources passed a bill, H.R. 3650 that would allow the disposal of 2 million acres of Forest Service land per state. This is an area larger than the Gallatin National Forest in Montana. More than all National Forest lands in Wisconsin. Greater than the National Forests of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania combined. This is twice the size of California's Six Rivers National Forest.
Two million acres of your National Forests per state – gone.
Certain lands, such as Congressionally designated Wilderness Areas, would be excluded, but the majority of America's public lands managed by the Forest Service would be eligible for liquidation.
And what would happen to these lands? They would go to individual states to be managed primarily for timber production without any consideration given to the 320 million Americans who currently own a stake in them. That is, if the lands aren't sold to private interests, like what is happening right now with the Elliot State Forest in Oregon.
This is just the most recent in a series of assaults on America's public lands. Today, we are seeing special interests repeatedly trying to wrest control of these lands from Americans. Unfortunately, these special interests have the ear of some members of Congress.
Enough is enough.
Throughout the month of September TU will be rolling out a campaign to help put an end to this ill-conceived idea...and we need your help.
America's public lands belong to all of us and we want to hear from you why public lands matter. It could be because your local National Forest is where you take your kids fishing. Or perhaps BLM lands are the places you hunt and fill your freezer with venison. Or maybe you have a dream to one day to fish the world-renowned salmon streams on the Tongass National Forest.
Whatever the reason, we want to hear why America's public lands matter to you. Tell us in 500 words or less and we will feature the best stories during the month of September on the blog at TU.org. Please send your stories to Shauna Sherard with the subject line "Why public lands matter to me".