HR 622

Chaffetz in camo
Poser. To appease the outpouring of opposition from the hunting community who fear loss of access to lands leaving the public domain, Chaffetz posted a video of himself in camo with a rifle and a hunting dog, declaring his (seemingly newfound) “love for our public lands.”

In a rare reversal just days after he introduced H.R. 621--the “Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act” – to sell 3.3 million acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 10 states, the author, U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), publicly withdrew the bill.

However, he has yet to withdraw the companion bill, H.R. 622, the “Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act,” that would eliminate the law enforcement programs and authorities of both BLM and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). In their place, those agencies would “provide grants to affected states for the enforcement of federal law on federal land.”

While retaining federal ownership, the bill would effectively strip the federal government of its ability to oversee activities on these lands. Instead, local sheriffs would assume sole responsibility for patrolling and policing them. Crimes over which these local officials would assume responsibility go well beyond off-road vehicle violations, littering and vandalism. They would also assume control over investigations into complex crimes involving invasive species, wildland fires, artifact looting, commercial timber theft and illegal mining among a score of other federal resource protection laws.

Search and Rescue
Many Hats. Federal rangers are often called upon for search and rescue.

Paradoxically, local officials would also be the only authority for assuring compliance with the terms and conditions of federally issued permits. In addition, those remaining federal land management staff would have to rely on local authorities for protection against criminal threats and assaults against them.

PEER is pulling together a network of both retired and active USFS and BLM law enforcement personnel, as well as county sheriffs, to document the thorough awfulness of this idea.