MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is concerned about the continuing rhetoric and political posturing surrounding the wholesale disposal, sale or transfer of federal land holdings, and stands in opposition to such potential action.
“Federal public lands are vitally important habitat for elk and many other species of wildlife. They are also where we hunt, camp, hike, and in some cases, make our living,” stated David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, in a recent letter to all members of Congress across the West. “The notion of transferring ownership of lands currently overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or any other federal land manager to states, or worse yet to private interests, is not a solution to federal land management issues and we are opposed to this idea.”
RMEF maintains that transferring public lands to states to manage will not work for two primary reasons. The first reason is states are not equipped or prepared to manage these additional lands. The costs are enormous. Most states in the nation are in the red financially and do not have the funds to fight wildfire, treat noxious weeds and improve access. That shortfall will lead to the potential sale of public lands. The second major reason is transferring ownership of public lands does not address the real issues such as the lack of management or the constant barriers put forth by litigious groups.
“Calls for transfers of federal land are rooted in disappointment and disgust with the lack of balanced use and management of these lands today. Over the past decade, there has been a shift in the multiple use approach for the benefit of the most people and wildlife to a preservationist agenda advocated by small radical groups. Actively managed lands benefit people and wildlife, and in a specific case, reduce the impacts of wildfire, a national crisis at this time,” stated Allen.
RMEF calls on all members of Congress to stand up for the ongoing federal ownership of land and to further improve the situation by enacting legislation that creates specific strategic goals for the Departments of Agriculture and Interior to implement sound, active federal management.
“Federal public lands have always afforded the opportunity for Americans to hunt, hike, fish and enjoy the outdoors,” added Allen. “The RMEF wants it to remain that way.”