February 2, 2017
Outcry from hunting and conservation groups has caused Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz to drop a bill that would have authorized the federal government to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands in ten Western states. Yesterday, Chaffetz tweeted that "groups I care about fear it sends the wrong message... I hear you and HR 621 "dies tomorrow."
Rep. Chaffetz' withdrawal of his bill in the face of overwhelming opposition is a shot across the bow of the movement by some Western members of Congress to turnover control of much of the West's public land to states. The move, of course, would spell disaster for wild horses and burros in states like Utah and Wyoming that lobby for mass roundups and removals of wild horses from public lands.
Rep. Ryan Zinke, President Donald Trump's choice for Interior Secretary clarified during his confirmation hearing that he is "“I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land.”
But public lands are still at risk, thanks to a rules change passed last month by Congress that deemed all public lands as having no value, paving the way for the government to "dispose" of federal lands through sale without a requirement to make a profit for American taxpayers.