Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar say a recently released Republican Party platform that promotes the transfer of federal public lands to states is bad for the country.
During a media phone conference July 19,Hickenlooper sharply criticized the Republican movement to give up federal lands, calling it “reckless, and an assault on not just public lands in Colorado, but against all of our national public lands that have been held in trust for all Americans for over 200 years.”
“Teddy Roosevelt and pioneers of conservation would be rolling over in their grave if knew there was a movement in the Republican Party to basically give away all these lands,” Salazar said.
The response came after the Republican National Committee released its party platform goals before its national convention in Cleveland last week.
“Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states,” the RNC platform stated. “The residents of state and local communities know best how to protect the land where they work and live.”
But Hickenlooper said he fears that such action could have unintended consequences such as states selling the land for short-term economic gain.
Montezuma County commissioners have expressed support for transferring of federal lands to state and county control.
Last year, they lobbied the U.S. Forest Service to transfer Sage Hen, House Creek and the McPhee Reservoir boat ramp over to the county.
They want Sage Hen to reopen for camping, and expressed frustration at the pace of bringing back marina services.
In response, the San Juan National Forest, which manages recreation on McPhee, prioritized issuance of a concessionaire permit for the marina, and it reopened this year after a 15-year absence.
Also, in 2014, the county joined the controversial American Lands Council, which advocates for transfer of federal lands to states, except for national parks, wilderness areas, military bases and Native American reservations.
Commissioner James Lambert, a long-time advocate for state control of federal lands, said that when Colorado became a state, “legal language said the federal government would return the land to the state.”
Lambert said that if the state had control of federal lands, there would be more opportunity for logging, mining and oil-and-gas production.
“Right now, the federal lands are managed on a one-size-fits-all approach out of Washington D.C., and that does not work,” he said. “Regulations for mining, oil and gas, and logging right now are extremely burdensome.”