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MONDAY, FEB. 2, 2015, 12:02 P.M.

Washington lawmakers join federal land transfer bandwagon

Wapaloosie Mountain on the Kettle Crest in the Colville National Forest. (Craig Romano)
Wapaloosie Mountain on the Kettle Crest in the Colville National Forest. (Craig Romano)

PUBLIC LANDS -- A bill has been introduced in Washington -- SB 5405 -- that would form a task force to look into federal land ownership in Washington, with an eye to “to study the risks, options, and benefits of transferring certain federal lands in the state to an alternative ownership.”

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman fleshes out the state Senate perps involved in this waste of time and money.

Read a few recent stories on these efforts in several other western states:

News of the Washington bill comes shortly after national sportsmen's groups and businesses launched a campaign to oppose state movements to take over federal lands, with the high likelihood that they would later become privatized in some way.

Within Washington are 12.7 million acres of federal land, including 9.3 million acres of national forests, 1.8 million acres of national parks, 429,000 acres of BLM ground, and 182,000 acres of national wildlife refuges. This is land we can't afford to be vulnerable to special interests.

“America’s 640 million acres of federal public lands provide irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat and public access for hunting and fishing,” said Joel Webster, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “More than 72 percent of Western sportsmen depend on these lands for access to hunting."

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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