On Tuesday, Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced two bills (H.R. 621 and H.R. 622) with the explicit aim to sell Federal lands and "terminate the law enforcement functions of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management." While 622 never made it further than its introduction last year — a time when Secretary Sally Jewell ran the Department of Interior under the Obama administration — the chances of this bill going further are much more likely, given the Republican control of the House, Senate, and, now, the Executive branch of the U.S. government.
We'll be seeking comments and responses to these bills as the full text comes available, but for now, here's what's available:
H.R. 622, Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, first introduced last year, removes the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. Instead, the bill calls for deputizing local law enforcement, combined with block grant funding, to empower existing duly elected law enforcement offices to carry out these responsibilities. The bill, jointly sponsored by Utah’s Rep. Mia Love and Rep. Chris Stewart, also establishes a formula to reimburse local law enforcement based on the percentage of public land in each state. The resulting cost savings will reduce the BLM budget by five percent and the Forest Service by seven percent.
H.R. 621, Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, calls for the responsible disposal of 3.3 million acres of land identified by the Clinton Administration as being suitable for sale to non-federal entities. Encompassing just over one percent of total BLM land and less than half of one percent of all federal lands, these lands have been deemed to serve no purpose for taxpayers. In Utah, some 132,931 acres of land are eligible for disposal.
And from Congress.gov:
H.R.621 – To direct the Secretary of the Interior to sell certain Federal lands in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, previously identified as suitable for disposal, and for other purposes.
H.R.622 – 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.
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