4 Things You Need to Know About the Public Land Heist

I went on my first backpacking trip at age five in Yosemite National Park, an adventure that ended with a bear helping himself to our breakfast after climbing a tree to retrieve the food bag my dad had painstakingly hung the night before. Most of us who love the outdoors have become accustomed to dealing with the occasional disaster, whether that’s a broken bone or a bear encounter.

But one outdoor disaster that could impact all of us has consequences far more severe than a broken bone or a missed breakfast. Right now, millions of acres of our public lands—the mountains, forests and rivers that belong to all of us—are facing an unprecedented risk. A campaign to transfer and sell off national land has gained serious traction in a number of Western states and in Congress. It’s a public land heist and it threatens our entire public lands system. The future of the places we love to paddle, camp, hike, climb, and explore are at stake.

What You Need to Know About the Public Land Heist

Here are four things you need to know right now about the public land heist:

1) A group of powerful special interests would like to sell off our public lands to generate profit for individual states or private entities. This public land heist is the brainchild of the American Lands Council, a group dedicated to unraveling the core policy that keeps our public lands owned by the people, for the people. They want to see our national lands privatized for short-term gain, at the expense of our shared American inheritance.

2) Land heist bills are gaining traction in the West and in Congress. Proponents have introduced dozens of bills in various Western states and a few in Congress that demand that the public “turn over” millions of acres of public land to state governments. Last year, the Senate passed an amendment that would pave the way to sell off public lands, and the House just advanced two bills that pave the way to privatize National Forests. Under the guise of “state rights” rhetoric, these bills are really intended to make it easier for developers and private interests to profit off our shared inheritance.

What You Need to Know About the Public Land Heist

3) State governments could privatize, sell, develop, or auction off our public lands to the highest bidder. If our public lands were given over to state governments, they would be the responsibility of state taxpayers to maintain and protect. A single wildfire can cost $100 million to fight, which would force states to sell or auction off land to cover the costs. Imagine if the place you love to hike, climb, paddle, ski, bike, or camp were suddenly sold to a private landowner or a real estate developer.

4) Every voice matters to protect our public lands. A coalition of advocacy groups and outdoor businesses has come together to fight the public land heist and keep our public lands in the public’s hands. Become part of the movement and voice your support by signing the petition today.

Millions of acres of our public lands hang in balance, not only for us, but for future generations.  Learn more at protectourpublicland.org.

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