Western Attorneys General including MT Issue Legal Analysis Panning Public Land Grab Scheme

The Associated Press reported this week that the Western Conference of Attorneys General has issued an analysis rejecting claims made by leading proponents of a public lands takeover scheme who were claiming, laughably, that the  U.S. government has no right to hold national forests, wildlife refuges, national monuments, and other public lands in trust for all Americans.

Utah is currently in the process of planning a $14 million dollar lawsuit against the U.S. government for control over public lands.  No other Western states have joined Utah in pouring their money down the toilet. This new analysis by the mostly republican AGs in the very states Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder (who leads the public land takeover movement) has been targeting, throws cold water on any remaining delusions that this nonsense would fly.  Fielder had been telling us the exact opposite, that Utah could succeed.

By a vote of 11 to 1, the bipartisan group of Western Attorneys General adopted the analysis undermining Utah’s legal case. The AP got the analysis through a public records request.  There were seven Republican attorneys general, three Democrats and one independent, including AGs from Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Utah (hilariously), Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona.  They voted 11-1 (Nevada was the lone dissenter) to approve the report at their annual meeting in Idaho this summer, but the AP wasn’t able to get the report until now.



8 Comments on "Western Attorneys General including MT Issue Legal Analysis Panning Public Land Grab Scheme"

  1. This action may throw a little cold water on the efforts to transfer and then sell Federal lands, but it is still a formal plank in both national and Montana GOP platforms. In addition, there is a huge amount of financial backing going into it. As encouraging as this report is in terms of these AGs potential reluctance to support these efforts, I think the fight is long from over at the legislative and Congressional levels.

  2. https://thesouthwestjournal.com/tag/state-takeover-of-federal-lands/ Good article on the history of nuts in Utah that advocate federal takeover.

  3. “Nevada was the lone dissenter”

    Carpet-bagging Lawrence Van Dyke headed out to Nevada after losing the supreme court election here in 2014, he is now Nevada Solicitor General.

    “As Solicitor General, Lawrence VanDyke serves as the chief appellate and legal issues attorney for the State of Nevada, and as a legal advisor to the Attorney General. He is supported in that role by the Office of the Solicitor General, including a Deputy Solicitor General and Assistant Solicitors General.”

  4. Drunks for Denny | October 5, 2016 9:21 AM at 9:21 AM |

    Tim Fox will be elected governor in 2020. You read it here first.

  5. American Lands Council
    Transfer Public Lands National Strategy Conference
    Salt Lake CIty, UT on Wednesday October 19, 2016

  6. While transferring America’s federal public lands to states is certainly the big dream and big enchilada of the American Lands Council, I would argue that there is a somewhat quiet, insidious – yet very effective – ‘death by a 1000 cuts’ taking place right now concerning America’s federal public lands, wilderness and wildlife heritage…and it’s being perpetuated by both GOP and Democratic Politicians (especially western Dems).

    Examples of this more subtle form of state takeover of federal public lands and wildlife management are numerous and include: Good Neighbor Authority; the 5 million acres of U.S. Forest Service land in Montana nominated for ‘fast-track’ logging, which is categorically excluded from the requirements of NEPA, through a secret, no public notice, no public input process in which Gov Bullock (and former Montana Wilderness Association director Tim Baker) simply hand-picked 7 people which met on the phone a few times; ESA issues (or non-issues) related to Sage Grouse, Grizzly Bears, wolves, etc.

    If many of these smaller issues just mentioned were being pushed by GOP politicians, instead of Dem Party politicians, you would certainly see some of the environmental, conservation and sportsmen’s groups who have strong ties to the MT Dem Party up in arms, but they usually prefer to remain 100% silent as the “death by 1000 cuts” moves forward, or else they will simply cheerlead with some hollow rhetoric that usually involves ‘sleeves being rolled up.’

    Here’s another recent example, given by a US Forest Service district ranger and delivered during Gov Bullock’s Western Governors Association so-called “National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative,” which was basically just a group of like-minded industry folks, government bureaucrats and token conservationists talking about ways to increase public lands grazing and logging through the use of ‘collaboratives.’ Ironically much of the talk at the conference was actually how to make the public lands ‘collaborative’ groups more powerful, more exclusive and smaller so that they could basically just have more ‘local control’ of the management of federal public lands, which obviously belong equally to all Americans.

    Here’s what that USFS district ranger had to say at the WGA conference, which by the way cost $100 to attention, provided no real opportunity for public comments, provided no evidence of an open, inclusive or transparent process for actually analysing any public comments submitted to the WGA, which Bullock currently chairs. The next meeting of the WGA “National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative” will be chaired by Idaho Gov Butch Otter, who at one time when he was in congress actually wanted to sell off America’s public lands and ended up his Congressional career with less than a 10% environmental voting record, according to the League of Conservation Voters. So basically Bullock just passed the mic to this guy. But, hey #KeepItPublic right? I know, enough with these details, details, details….

    “This [the Westside Collaborative Veg Project] was one of the governor’s Forests in Focus Initiative Projects. We received about $136,900 for this. That particular (state) money was able to expedite the project as well as make it a priority for the Bitterroot National Forest…..The expedited nature of the project…. definitely curtailed the time that we had to do some collaboration with some adjacent landowners as well as with some of our stakeholders and user groups. You know, like I said, it didn’t allow us a lot of time to establish that trust, that communication that is necessary for truly honest and open collaboration. Certainly we worked with the State of Montana DNRC to move forward with much of the project PRIOR TO ACTUALLY MAKING THE DECISION, which I think expedited things. But honest and truly I think we can do better there.”

    “The Bitterroot Restoration Committee actually works on a census basis. And have to admit my observation would be – on this particular project, as well as on certain other issues – I don’t believe that they’ve met that consensus at this point in time.”

    – Ryan Domsalla, West Fork District Ranger, Bitterroot National Forest at Governor Bullock’s WGA “National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative” meeting in Missoula, September 2016

    (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtySlCka6lY about 45 min mark)

  7. Claims that the federal government has no right to own land have significant Constitutional merit. So says Robert G. Natelson, University of Montana School of Law, in his 53 page scholarly paper “Federal Land Retention and The Constitution’s Property Clause: The Original Understanding”

    Professor Natelson wrote a summary of his findings:

    Excerpts from summary findings article:

    * Under the Property Clause (Art. IV, Sec. 3, Cl. 2), land titled to the federal government and held outside state boundaries is “Territory.” Federal land held within state boundaries is “other Property.”

    * The Property Clause gives Congress unconditional power to dispose of property and authority to regulate what is already held. It does not mention a power to acquire.

    * As for acreage (”other Property”) within state boundaries: Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, the federal government may acquire and retain land necessary for carrying out its enumerated powers. This includes parcels for military bases, post offices, buildings to house federal employees undertaking enumerated functions, and the like. It is not necessary to form federal enclaves for these purposes.

    * But within state boundaries the Constitution grants no authority to retain acreage for unenumerated purposes, such as land for grazing, mineral development, agriculture, forests, or parks.

    * Once a state is created and is thereby no longer a territory, the federal government has a duty to dispose of tracts not used for enumerated purposes.

    Professor Natelson ends the article with this:

    “My article has been cited widely. But it will not surprise you to learn that many reject the conclusions. Liberals are unhappy, because they want to keep much of our territory socialized. Conservative land activists are disappointed because they want the federal government to convey land to the state governments, not dispose of it in other ways. It is significant, however, that no one has even tried to rebut my conclusions or the evidence for them.”


    At 60 years of age, having lived in the declining days of the Real America of liberty, freedom, and limited federal government, I’m constantly astonished and fearful at the ever increasing number of persons whom blindly and blithely declare that everything government does is good, and anyone who disagrees with government is bad.

    Clearly, such persons have terminally succumbed to decades of mental conditioning if they believe the lie that government knows best and has the best interests of “the people” at heart. If American 20th century history teaches anything, it teaches government has increasingly become a multi-tentacled beast, intent on passing laws to monitor, spy on, direct, and control every aspect of American’s lives – including into their bedrooms, anus’s, penis’, and rectums.

    Beginning with the FBI monitoring of Martin Luther King, through Nixon’s now comical Watergate, to the CIA assassination of JFK (and the CIA invention of the term “Conspiracy Theory” to ridicule anyone not buying the lone gunman theory), to Carter’s overthrow of the Shaw and subsequent rise of the Ayatollah Khomeni, to Ollie North’s illegal weapons shipments to the Contras, to Hillary’s illegal weapons shipments to Libyan “rebels” (who are today’s ISIS) to topple Ghadaffi, to Obama’s 8 year destabilization program to fundamentally transform the United States….the government has proven itself a master at disinformation. ALWAYS for NEFARIOUS purposes which INCREASE GOVERNMENT POWER over “the people”.

    Those who believe government is god are one of two flavors. Those who stand to benefit from a totalitarian diktat, and those mentally, physically, and spiritually weak too weak to force their agenda on others, and need a force multiplier to bully others into accepting whatever concept of the day they’re pushing.

    The ONLY one who wins in the end is the all powerful government. A government with enough guns and laws to steal others’ stuff and give it to you, can use those same guns and laws to take that stuff back from you.

    America long ago passed that point. We need to de-militarize our police, reduce the federal government, and throw away the 50,000 page IRS rule book and have a standard income tax.

Comments are closed.