I should probably go ahead and get it out of the way and say that, unfortunately, I agree that Cliven Bundy is legally very wrong in refusing to pay federal grazing fees and instigating a potentially violent standoff with the Bureau of Land Management — but that being said, that does not mean that the law of the land he is opposing is a good one.
As I have written before, the fact that the federal government currently owns a full third of the surface area of the United States is nothing less than a scandal that directly results in countless economic opportunity costs as well as inefficient, uninformed management practices and environmental degradation. For decades, eco-radicals flying the banner of “environmentalism” and “conservation” have been using the auspices of the federal government to slowly take lands out of the hands of private individuals and rural communities and instead put them in the hands of a politically-driven, top-down gigantic bureaucracy wielding the hammer of regulatory power, usually in the name of saving the sage grouse or something.
The “conservationists” that have been advocating for the subsequently restrictive land-use policies and wilderness designations tend to believe that commercial activity and free enterprise (as it pertains here, that means drilling, mining, logging, grazing, etcetera) are fundamentally and necessarily at odds with fostering environmental quality, and generally would really like to see human beings relocated almost entirely into cities.
The federal government hasn’t even designated the requisite cash it takes to properly manage the property it already owns, resulting in a major maintenance backlog, and yet it is constantly acquiring more land — largely via the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which President Obama has oh-so-proudly declared he will fully fund to the tune of around $900 million a year. Perhaps instead of using that money to acquire more land and thus expand those restrictive land-use policies, the feds could instead use that money to better steward the existing federal estate? And hey, while they’re at it, perhaps they could actually sell off some of the federal estate, or even just relinquish some of it to state control, the better to service that $17 trillion debt in which we’re floundering? Maybe?
Alas, expanding those restrictive land-use policies is kinda‘ the goal for these progressive “environmentalist” types. Federal land management essentially means political land management, and they’d like to keep it that way. A timely case in point:
A group of 230 state legislators on Tuesday encouraged President Obama to brush aside Republican opposition and designate more public lands as national monuments.
Public areas in the United States are valuable for tourism and outdoor recreation, the lawmakers said, but the threats of mining, logging and drilling put the lands at risk.
“As legislators, we encourage action from Congress to protect these landscapes but, as you know, for the last three years Congress has passed just one bill to designate new wilderness,” they wrote. …
They want him to declare the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico and Boulder-White Clouds in Idaho as monuments.
“Your administration can deliver a bold agenda for permanently protecting our most critically important cultural and natural heritage in your remaining years in office,” they wrote.
Here’s the letter, and yes, they do actually say that not designating these monuments increases “the risk of mining, logging and drilling,” whilst applauding the president’s support for the LWCF. The fact that decades’ worth of the federally-directed prevention of thinning activities like grazing and logging has directly resulted in unnaturally dense forests that have been erupting into the explosive wildfires we’ve lately been experiencing, was not mentioned (because, of course, they’d like the shift the blame away from themselves and onto climate change). Nope — for these guys, ushering more land into the federal estate is just another tool through which “environmentalists” can exert their whims, deter fossil-fuel investment, squash rural economies, and shepherd more people into urban areas.