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Thursday, May 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Utah Congressman seeks ban of enforcement on federal public lands

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is chairman of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (J. Applewhite / Associated Press)
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is chairman of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (J. Applewhite / Associated Press)

Updated 4:40 p.m.

PUBLIC LANDS -- Don't trust federal land grabber Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. He's part of the problem.

Chaffetz made headlines last week and got some positive attention for withdrawing his unpopular legislation to mandate the sale of more than 3 million acres of public lands to states and private interests.

“…groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message,” Chaffetz wrote in the tweet, adding that he was a “proud gun-owner, hunter and love our public lands.” (See the S-R's Sunday story, Push to turn over federal lands to the states may be losing steam)

But it appears the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is just another anti-federal lands con man.

Chaffetz has so far refused to withdraw his even more damaging companion bill -- the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act (H.R. 622).

"The bill would eliminate federal law enforcement officers on America’s national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands, leaving hundreds of millions of acres vulnerable to abuse and lawless behavior, taxing state and local authorities and fundamentally compromising American’s safety, both in and around public lands," says a post from the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

The Wilderness Society says the bill would " make it even harder for the chronically underfunded agencies to protect wildlife habitat, prevent poaching, preserve cultural sites, prevent reckless off-road vehicle use and otherwise take care of the nearly 440 million acres of land they collectively manage."

The purpose listed in the bill: "To terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and to provide block grants to States for the enforcement of Federal law on Federal land under the jurisdiction of these agencies, and for other purposes."

The reality:  Giving a locally-controlled sheriff jurisdiction over a chunk of national forest or BLM land would not be in the national interest in most cases. It would be particularly offensive if some of the rogue sheriffs were federally funded to inflict their agendas on public lands.

Pat O’Carroll, executive director of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, points out that “Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officers and agents conduct complex investigations crossing county, state and international borders. They are highly trained and routinely investigate the destruction of archaeological sites, timber theft, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, wildlife poaching and catastrophic wildfires. FLEOA believes that Congress should be recognizing their valuable contributions to the protection of our endangered public lands.”

Chaffetz appears to be playing games with the public lands that set America apart from all other countries.

His bill is the type of legislation I referenced in my column, Transferring federal land: an old idea that still offends the masses

It's the kind of Congressional crap that prevents federal lands from being properly managed.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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