Letter to the Editor for July 9, 2014
Privatizing federal land would limit our freedoms
The same night that the Republicans held their debate for county commissioner there was an article about Seneca Jones, a timber company, buying part of the Elliot Forest, which is a part of the state forest lands that were laid out to support schools and colleges. Evidently the state land board got frustrated fighting with environmental groups so decided to show them and sold about 800 acres to the private company. That land which used to belong to the people of Oregon will now have no trespassing signs posted on it.
I mention this in response and support of Bob Whitnah’s letter in the Baker County Press. He is dead on. If you like the freedom of movement you grew up with in the West then pay damned little attention to the periodic Sagebrush Rebellion stuff that periodically comes out of Nevada. Privatizing federal lands would be extremely difficult with 435 congressmen, 100 senators, nine Supreme Court justices and a president all having a say. The Seneca Jones situation illustrates exactly what would happen if federal lands ever reverted to the states. With the wealth of the country becoming ever more concentrated in the hands of a few it wouldn’t be long before the super-rich bribed, contributed to elections and bought their own state legislators and worked out a deal to privatize and own what is now collectively yours. In Oregon those with the power would number less than 100 to do this, on the county level three elected officials might be able to do it.
The western United States is unique in all the world for providing freedom of movement for its citizens. I grew up western and will fight to keep that heritage. The idea that I should be surrounded by no trespassing signs on my land is unacceptable. That doesn’t mean I am always happy with the way my lands are managed but at least I have a say. Once they are in private hands I have none.