Republican representative Jason Chaffetz introduced legislation that rips public land policing responsibilities from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service officials and hands it to local sheriffs.
“Congress has been a compliant witness to the rise of violent extremism on America’s public lands, ignoring the dangers that so-called Patriot militias and anti-government extremists pose to communities and public servants,” Matt Lee-Ashley, senior fellow and director of the Public Lands Project at the CAP, wrote in a statement to the press.
He added: “Congress should send a clear message that violent extremism will not be tolerated and that anti-government efforts to seize and sell public lands do not reflect mainstream American values. Public lands must remain open to all, safe for all, and protected for all.”
Chaffetz’s bill comes two months after FBI authorities killed members of an Oregon militia protested the BLM land-use regulations and occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January.
The militia was led by brothers Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy, the sons of Cliven Bundy, who himself gained notoriety in 2014 for getting involved in an armed standoff in Nevada with the BLM over cattle grazing rules.
Lee-Ashley said the Bundy brothers attacks “brought into focus the most powerful philosophical and political attack on America’s parks and public lands since they were established.”
Chaffetz, for his part, said the legislation will help ratchet down the conflicts between federal agencies and local officials.
“This legislation will help de-escalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability,” Chaffetz said in a statement. “The BLM and Forest Service will be able to focus on their core missions without the distraction of police functions.”
In an odd turn of the political dime, the Center for American Progress — which is directed by CEO and president Neera Tanden, a former Hillary Clinton acolyte — accused the politicians pushing the transfer bill of kowtowing to the likes of the American Lands Council and the conservative-leaning Koch brothers.
The Koch brothers, according to the liberal-leaning group, “also partly finance the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has helped Ivory and the American Lands Council disseminate copycat land transfer bills in state legislatures around the country.”
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