A letter signed by 111 national and state organizations from across the country was delivered to the U.S. Senate on November 10 requesting the Senators join them in opposing the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008.
That legislation, now pending before the Senate, runs to more than 1,000 pages and consists of more than 100 different “land grab” bills, as opponents call them. Almost one million acres would be placed under the “wilderness” designation.
Originally conceived to preserve lands previously untouched by human hands, wilderness status is now used to block all kinds of desirable land from energy development, oil exploration, cattle grazing, hunting, farming, mountain biking, and every other form of use and recreation.
Also included in the bill is codification of the National Landscape Conservation System. The NLCS consists of 26 million acres of land—13 percent of the nation’s surface—that has been set aside in piecemeal fashion by recent presidential administrations but has not received formal congressional authorization.
“This is a serious threat to all property owners in this country,” stated Kelsey Zahourek, executive director of the national Property Rights Alliance. “Over the past several decades, there has been a proliferation of programs dedicated to the preservation of land that have extended the grasp of the federal government and its influence over private property rights. As a result of this legislation, landowners will see their property value diminish due to increased land use regulations,” and outdoor recreation enthusiasts will find new restrictions on both public and private land.
The letter noted, “As a matter of principle, property rights should be protected by recognizing the right of citizens to utilize and prosper from the land in this country. Legislation should never arbitrarily attempt to seize land from the public and restrict its use, as the omnibus package would.”
The letter can be viewed at http://www.propertyrightsalliance.org.
John Kartch ([email protected]) is a media affairs specialist at the Property Rights Alliance.