Sunday, March 13, 2016

How an East Coast Think Tank Is Fueling the Land Transfer Movement

By Lyndsey Gilpin, High Country Newse

Recently, Idaho senators met to vote on a new bill that would let county sheriffs, commissioners, and mayors decide if an area of federal land is at risk of wildfire, and demand that the federal government fix it. If the feds - usually Bureau of Land Management or US Forest Service - don't respond, local officials could coordinate with the state to take legal action.

ut the bill didn't come to a vote - it was met with contention from the Idaho Senate largely because it was aligned with the effort to transfer federal lands to state control. The law is also an example of a larger trend of legislation in Western states being derived from model bills created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC - not to be confused with the Utah-based American Lands Council (ALC) - is a nonprofit organization founded in 1973 by conservative activist Paul Weyrich that works to push principles of free-market enterprise, limited federal control, and more power for state governments. The conservative policy group based in Arlington, Virginia, whose corporate advisory board includes Exxon Mobil and tobacco giant Altria, is funded largely by the Koch family and is becoming increasingly involved in the land transfer movement by providing bill templates, research and public support to Western legislators.

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