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Is Public Land Set to Be Sold?

Public LandPublic land and the Rocky Mountain West are tied together. When hunters from the East think of coming West their first question is often, “How hard is it to plan my own hunt on public land?” The tone in Washington D.C. has started to change in the last few years and the federal government is thinking in short term dollar figures rather than common sense in some areas. A recently proposed budget has passed the House and would sell off large portions of public land to the highest bidder. Why in the world would we want to sell one of the most valuable commodities inside our borders?

It seems that as a whole we tend to spend more than we take in. Finding cash now to pay for immediate “needs” rather than long-term goals is the rising trend on both sides of the aisle in Washington.

So let me see if I can get this straight. We have made the process so hard to get logging permits* for federal land that we would rather sell it outright for development than have a solid revenue stream in the timber industry? Last time I checked a place called China needs building materials, but let’s borrow money from them instead of selling them its materials. It makes total sense.

Most of us have hunted in old clear-cuts that have been reclaimed and I would be hard pressed to find a hunter who hasn’t found big game animals there. New, vibrant pine trees aren’t as susceptible to beetle kill or the fires that we spend ridiculous amounts of money fighting every year.

By a bureaucrat’s handbook that makes the most fiscal sense because they would have money to spend now for a pet project rather than money over time to do something logical. Something logical like, say whittling down our national debt with a vibrant economy from multiple revenue streams or fix the infrastructure that we hear so much about during election seasons.

Let’s get some facts straight about what land will be sold too. It won’t be ugly places where game doesn’t spend much time. It will be winter ground where deer and elk go to survive the harshest seasons.

The land is only valuable to two groups of people. Developers and mineral seekers, neither of which are going to preserve game for future generations if too much is developed. Sure many people work hard in the oil and mineral industry and we are grateful to you for keeping our lights on and our cars running. Many people in those industries are hunters too and we can’t hunt, mine and drill everywhere at the same time. Sure, those areas are reclaimed but if we mine it all at the same time, we haven’t even started to see a decline in mule deer populations!

Reaction to this has been varied; some states want the federal land back under their control. In my opinion this is not a good solution either, as it will likely produce the same results when the states find out how expensive it is to manage large swaths of federal land.

The key will always be managing properly for the future for all parties involved. Maybe our representatives in D.C. will get a clue that we don’t want our western heritage to die for their greed.

-Guy Eastman



*Oregon’s rules are cited to show just how much regulation is in place in one state alone.


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About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Richard Shugart

    You nailed it guy. Can we as hunter and sportman do anything about this. No hunters spend large amonts of money each year on ammo rifles scopes ect. Were still not able to draw a tag in wyoming. I spent 19 years watching other hunter draw the same antelope area for 10 years. Just fed up with things ……

  2. As A logger, I have heard first hand from Idaho Department of Lands employees that there is much pressure to sell these fertile public hunting grounds to huge outfitters who want to close the ground down to public hunting and have you join their “outfit” to be able to hunt there. Again the extreme regulation on the loggers is choking out the possibility of even state governments to cash in on this valuable renewable resource we posses here in the great Northwest.
    I can tell you from first hand experience that I logged Gold Cup just east of Priest River ID. When I was 18. Now I am 44 and the trees that have grown there are ready to be harvested again! Lets get organized and stop all the b.s. that the public is fed by the FEDS! IMHO

  3. Have you actually read the legislation, or have a link to the language?
    I ask because I saw an amendment to a bill that said the Feds could not own more than 50% of the land in any state, but it didn’t say anything about selling public land, I was thinking it was to prevent future land grabs.
    I’m not for them selling off public lands to private entities btw.

  4. Eric Steinbrenner

    Well said Guy! Aaaaand the less public land available to hunt, eventually will lead to less “hunting public”!!! This is another “population decline” that hunters, fish-game departments, and the hunting industry can not afford!!!

  5. Guy, telling it like it is probably just landed you on the NSA watch list. Quit making so much sense.
    Barry Hull

  6. I agree that our land shouldn’t be sold, but pertaining to your other comments I disagree with you. I am a coal miner and very avid hunter and fisherman, the coal industry is under a lot of scrutiny right now from the EPA and federal govt. which could cost a lot of us our jobs. If they get their way the little town I live in and surrounding northwest colorado communities will be devastated. There are a lot of hunters each year welcomed to our area to hunt big game. The coal mine that I work at hosts thousands of elk and deer each year so the part of destroying the land is nonsense. It would be nice if everyone had to play by the rules we do from weed control to putting the area we mined back to its original topography. It seems to me the government is the only ones with no rules to follow. I would also like to add that most of the miners in my area are strong supporters of the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation, mule deer foundation, and of course you guys. I find numerous Eastmans journals around the mine site. So in closing I ask that next time you want to throw comments out there for everyone to read make sure your not in fact hurting those that support you the most.

    Jason Back

    • You made some good points. I think what guy means is that we should not sell our public land because our government can’t manage our money. As far as using that land for its resources would at least be a better option like logging. Also we can mine the land and not just coal without selling it. This would also provide more jobs. Our country needs the resources. Politicians know we need the resources but all the red tape they they laid prevents this from allowing us to harvest some of the resources of the land. Guy nails it when he describes this as a shoe term solution.

  7. Well said Jason!! From a coal miner in wyoming.

  8. As an Oregon resident and avid archery hunter this sickens me! Its hard enough finding an area to hunt (successfully), and keep that area a “secret”. I have been fortunate to have harvested several decent bulls in Oregon with my bow. But, its never in the same area due to the increasing amount of restrictions which leads to more hunters in one single area. ODFW has no clue how to manage. Idaho seems to have it spot on!

    B Rogers

  9. Great – will they also post “No hunting on the Kings’ land” signs? Why is this not surprising from the oligarchy supported/supporting House of Reps….

  10. shootbrownelk

    Wyoming Governor Matt Mead and Dr.Haynes? his Republican challenger for Governor want to transfer all Federal (USFS & BLM) to the State of Wyoming. If that ever happens the Ranchers/Outfitters and the mineral extraction industries will gobble it up, and hunting as we know it will cease to exist. Both Mead & the “Good Doctor” are ranchers! Duh!

  11. In Utah the Republicans want the state to take over all federal lands. All the prime land would end up in the hands of the political cronies, developers and land speculators. Our state government is corrupt, due to one party rule. It is pay-to-play in UTAH.
    If this happens forget about getting on, to what now, is National Forest or BLM land. The rich and well connected will have everything tied up

  12. Remember, we own it, have from birth. It’s not theirs to sell.

  13. In Montana, as in Utah, it isn’t Washington bureaucrats that want to sell our public lands. It’s the Tea Party Republicans. Both the GOP senate and congressional candidates and the Montana GOP platform advocate turning Federal lands to the state – the first step in selling the lands to the rapists and developers.

  14. perhaps someone can explain why state ownership equates with rapists, cronies, speculators and developers holding possession?IS the federal government some gentle, innocent landlord? Personally “uncle Fed ” hasn’t done a great job in running the show,let alone the constitutionality of federal ownership. Dr Haynes positons may seem radical only because we have been so dumbed down in our thinking.

    • Eric Steinbrenner

      The Feds are not a great landlord either..BUT, state / local government control and its more direct control of zoning and hometown “cronie-ism” can change more quickly to favor certain people in office and their pocket books..or those of their cronies!!! Wheres T.R. when we need him!???

    • Larry Gaalswyk

      Some of these posts who think that fed control is better than local have drank too much of the big government Kool-Aid. Bigger government is the problem here and the Tea Party is one identity that is trying to oppose that.

    • Robert D. Ruck

      The only people that are dumbed down, are the dumb asses who have been brainwashed by dems, repubs, and the tea party. At least with the feds owning the land it is still land in public trust to be used by all. If these sales happen we will become like Europe. The rich will have all access to hunt, fish, and rape the land. Whatever happened to common sense balance to politics. As for as the constitution stating that the feds can only own land for Military bases and post offices, which I am sure you are referring to, I have never seen it. And furthermore, if the radical sob’s who push this type of America, a land for the rich and privileged one percenters, they better get ready for a 2nd revolution.

  15. Doug Brittenham

    As a 60 year resident of Wyoming I can attest to what happens to public access/use of State land versus Federal land in this state. The State land is sold off/swapped on a regular annual basis to private entities. Most of these sales are kept under the publics radar until after the deal is done. The way the average Joe finds out about it is when he travels to his old favorite hunting or fishing hole and discovers new fencing and no trespassing signs. You could write a book about the nefarious back door deals done with Wyoming State lands. The charter for the state land board is to maximize the revenue for the good of the pubic schools. I am not saying the Feds don’t do a poor job as well, but at least with all the Federal bureaucracy it takes forever for them to dispose of public lands. If nothing else is a convincing argument, it is against the law to camp or have a campfire on Wyoming State lands. I completely agree with Guy’s point of view. You don’t eat your seed corn.

    • Eric Steinbrenner

      AMEN DOUG!!!

    • shootbrownelk

      State lands (Wyoming) are routinely closed to access at the whim of the rancher who leases it. No vehicular traffic (except of course, the rancher) no overnight camping.
      Ranchers also post BLM land as being private. I see it where I hunt. It’s not legal, but the fact is that G&F the BLM and the State look the other way. Not sure about USFS land. But if the State gets control of Federal land, kiss your hunting goodbye unless you are one of the few with deep pockets. It’ll be more of a rich mans sport than it already is.

    • Jeff Muratore

      Very well said Doug. In central Wyoming we had a huge battle with the state and a private landownwer over a land swap that would have made a private land elk refuge for the landowner. We can not allow, under present laws and regulations, the state to take over control of federal land.

  16. Good article. That land isn’t there for us to use to settle debts, it belongs to our kids. I have no problem with allowing the renewable resources on that land to be exploited as long as they have plans for dealing with the roads left afterwards. Not sure how it is down south but in British Columbia where I live the current logging planning is based on a maximum 200 m haul distance. Imagine a road within 200 m of any piece of merchantable timber, I’d call that excessive.

  17. Very insightful Guy, I hate to admit how accurate your insight is. Teddy Roosevelt recognized decades ago, just how important our federal lands are. We now have leadership that is only dedicated to their agenda’s and survival.
    We must cling with our dollars, and our voice to the true dedicated conservation groups, and wait for the opportunity to engage. RMEF, NRA, DU, DSC, and the Teddy Roosevelt fund, are all dedicated groups.
    In the short term we must call, text, and mail our congress and apply all the pressure we can,
    Federal lands must stay federal, and logging, and responsible use must return soon, or we will all face terrible futures.

  18. Since public land is only for hunting why shouldn’t it be sold? Isn’t there some other use for it that would benefit everyone?

    • What? The use that most benefits it is what ever each person, the public, decides to do on it. and that’s actually more than just hunting. not sure where you got that from.

    • shootbrownelk

      Public land is used for grazing by ranchers, by oil and gas companies, mineral extraction, timber harvesting, fishing, hunting, camping, horseback pack trips, cycling. Hunting is just a small part of it. It does benefit everyone who cares to enjoy it.

  19. don’t support politicians or political groups that are pro big oil. end of problem.

  20. here in Wisconsin the state has already started to sell public land that was deemed to be in “non project zones”. the reason I travel to Montana is due to the vast amounts of publically accessible wilderness. if they start selling off these large pieces of public land they will lose my (and many others) tourist dollars each year

  21. I just retired as a state forester. There seems to be a lot of manure being spread these days. Both parties are corrupt —–period. If a politicians mouth is moving they are lying. With that knowledge alone, we should realize the best government is run by the people and for the people. My dad was a coal miner and a good man. He died of blacklung just like both of my grandfathers. I believe mining is necessary, but what is happening while we beg for jobs and the companies get richer. Jobs today will not make up for selling out our grandchildren. Timber is dying all over the intermountain west due to environmental fervor. We need to harvest more, for wildlife and forest health. As we speak, the largest wildfire in Washington State history is burning the timber we could not cut. Did we save it. NO! Fire will be the great equalizer. I have fought fire all over the US for over 30 years. I can safely say we are in deep stuff. I have been involved in forest landowner education for the past 10 years. One thing I have learned —– people want there ideas to be heard, and very few adults want to listen. Explaining the complexities of forestry to any politician is a voice falling on deaf ears. They will do anything necessary, in my experience, to be reelected. This includes selling off OUR land. Do not let this happen. There is no going back if we go down that slippery slope. I have worked with good and bad public land managers. In general, most are decent hard working folks, hamstrung by politicians. The vast majority of timberland is privately owned. That is correct. Check it out. The reason no one is logging, is timber values. They are not great right now. To many houses for sale and no buyers. I live for hunting and the wide open country. Short term fixes are not the answer. We need less fences. Less development. Think hard on this. DO NOT SELL YOUR GRANDCHILDRENS BIRTHRIGHT!

  22. the iowa gop wanted to sell public land(out west) but with some good arguments against that plan it was defeated. the argument is this all of our land and our children&grandchildrens land and we dont have any right to sell it.we need to remain involved to defeat these plans.i am a republican but these are mostly republicans who are for this.we need to let our congressmen and women know we are not for selling federal land to any entity be it public or private.

  23. Selling public land is (as Ken said above) our grand childrens heritage. Do we want to be remembered as the generation that squandered our land and heritage for temporary economic benefits?

  24. I can see selling public land with no public access, however I would rather see the government obtain easements to let the public use its land.

  25. In my 67 years I cannot figure out people. Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho vote in candidates who are the ones who are moving forward to request to take over federal lands and sell to highest bidder. Example: Elko county in Nevada one of the largest counties in the USA has a commissioner (Delmar Dahl a large ranch owner) who sits on the board of Nevada task force along with the group from Utah(American Land council) to take on the tasks of taking the land and converting to private, or states. We know states cannot afford to take care of the lands so they will sell to get the dollars. As Governor Sandoval of Nevada stated, we will not sell it all….duh!. Mr. Dahl will be one of the largest benefactors of the land grab. He should be voted out along with the rest of the yahoo’s that have this stand. Unless hunters stand up to these it will slip right past us. Look at states east of us…all private land and you will pay to hunt. That is why the eastern,s come to Wyoming and other states to hunt. Look at what it would do to the economies of these western states not to mention the access to hunt. ASk yourself how many ranchers today have welcome signs out to hunters to come in to hunt. They collect the crop damage but not allow to hunt. Time to stand up hunters, take a look at American Land council headquarters in Utah, it will open your eyes. Note the map showing all federal land in the west and what they want to do with it. I want the federal lands to hunt on for my 4 chidlren along with our 6 grandkids, go out and 4 wheel, camp, have an outdoors life, like I have had.

  26. We as amercan people. Need to protect. What we have are government. Has never. Managed. The money we have all paid in they spend. more and more and they will keep it up we need to keep the land public. for us all to save it and all the things that. Call it there home if we let them sell are god give rights now when that money. Is gone whatwill they want to take from us all next and if they get there way someone. Will come along. and pay for that red tape to be cut for mining. and rape the land then leave. It when there done it will be totally. Worth. Less and we. Will have lost more. Then the land and all it holds we lost are heritage and the right to keep them from selling. what ever they want to next ! So if they need the money. That bad let them look somewhere. Else for it im sick of them taking. And taking. So they can add to there. Own pockets i love this country. But we are getting. It take from us to keep the people. Who make are laws richer. And it’s. Got to stop somewhere. This is as good of place as any to take a stand for all Americans and the one’s. Who will come along in are future. Thanks just something. To think about so keep all are public. Land for all the public!

  27. The Governor need to come up with a plan to annex any for sale federal lands. It is not theirs to sell.

  28. I live in Nevada and have watched Barrick mining destroy the largest migrating mule deer herd in Nevada. This year they will expand the mine again I protested the ESI based on migiration studies done by the Nevada Department of Wildlife posted online. I started to look at the mining act of 1872 and how billions dollars have been taken out of our state and country for no royalty fees. Harry Reid has been protecting this loop hole for years. He even placed his aid Neil Kornze ,son of Canadian born and head geologist for Barrick mining Larry Kornze, in charge of the BLM. I know Barrick will get this expansion and not a word of complaint will come from Nevada’s Mule Deer Foundation. How do I know ? They just took a large donation from Barrick at their National confrence in Salt Lake this year or maybe you can call the head of the foundation in Elko he works for Barrick.

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