From the February 2009 Idaho Observer:


Clintonesque land use planning is back with a vengeance

Remember the spotted owl? Remember wetlands and the Wildlands Project? Itís all coming back now. But this time it is different: The economy is crashing and Obama is expecting that millions of desperate people will line up to perform whatever tricks are required of them to take a piece of pork home. And pork there isóhundreds of billions of dollars just waiting for people willing to trade essential liberty for (the illusion of) temporary safety.

By Anne Wilder Chamberlain

Last November The IO reported on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reidís plans to pass a massive land grab bill that would restrict property rights and hamstring energy exploration in the United States. On November 19, he said that he would wait until early in the next Congress to bring up the package. Congress resumed on January 7, 2009, and the same day the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S22) was introduced. This legislation has expanded from over 1,000 pages in 2008 to 1,248 pages in 2009 and includes 15 Titles covering everything from forest management to oceans to water rights disputes to paralysis research.

S22 passed in the Senate on Jan 15, 2009, by voice vote, 73 to 21 with four abstaining.  As of February 14, govtrack.us reported that the last action on it was January 16.

The summary of this bill states its intent "to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes."

The bill has a table of contents 17 pages long. Included are municipal and rural water projects, Indian water designation, ocean exploration, undersea and coastal research, observation and mapping acts, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, paralysis research and improving quality of life for the disabled and Smithsonian Institution Facilities Authorization for laboratory space at facilities in Edgewater, MD and Gamboa, Panama.

Specifically included are these additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System:

Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia; National Forest System land in Jefferson National Forest, Virginia; Sabinoso Wilderness, New Mexico; Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wilderness, California; Riverside County Wilderness, California with Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness, California; Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness, Colorado; and much of Washington County, Utah; Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Wilderness; Beaver Basin Wilderness, Lake Superior; Oregon Badlands Wilderness; Spring Basin Wilderness, Oregon wild and scenic river protection in the Mount Hood area and Copper Salmon, OR; Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon; establishment of the Owyhee Land Acquisition Account in Owyhee County, Idaho for the Shoshone Paiute Tribes. Land exchanges are provided to protect tribal treaty rights in Idaho and Oregon.

Section II designates Bureau of Land Management Authorization for national Landscape Conservation Systems, watershed management programs, and land conveyances and exchanges.

Section III gives Forest Service authorization for much of the same.

Sections IV and V deal with forest restoration and river and trails systems, and Section VI designates Department of the Interior authorizations. Sections VII and VIII include additions to the National Park System and National Heritage areas. Section IX designates to the Bureau of Reclamation authorization over national waterways, and X further designates government "settlements" over our water. XI authorizes geological survey maps, and XII deals with ocean research and conservation. XIII covers miscellaneous items such as the paralysis research mentioned above, appropriations for the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, a National Tropical Botanical Garden, and amendments to the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act.

Propertyrightsalliance.org, an organization composed of 111 national and state organizations from across the country that opposed the 2008 version of this bill, stated their concern that the federal government already owns over 650 million acres of land, and that this would lock millions of additional acres of land into government regulation, preventing American citizens from exercising their right of property ownership.

According to Congressman Walt Minnick (D-ID) on February 4, this bill is held at the desk in the Senate and has not yet been assigned a bill number in the House.

Note: If Americansí memories were not so short, S 22 would be seen as disingenuous. The bill is simply an enhanced version of the landgrab visions of the Clintonistas that entangled the nationís farmers, ranchers and rural property owners in red tape during the 90s. The verification of the preceding statement is easily obtained by blowing the dust off your Clinton-era Wildlands Project maps, Biodiversity Treaty maps and compare them to new maps and the list of areas to be affected by S 22. (DWH)