Newspaper column: Jewell feels a drop of rain and declares sky is falling

Sally Jewell speaking about the “emergence of an extreme movement to seize public lands.”

Earlier this year Interior Secretary Sally Jewell delivered what could best be described as a doom and gloom speech about the state of disappearing “natural” lands in this country, primarily the West.

She claimed there is an “emergence of an extreme movement to seize public lands — from Oregon to Puerto Rico — putting lands that belong to all Americans at risk of being sold off for a short-term gain to the highest bidder. This movement has propped up dangerous voices that reject the rule of law, put communities and hard-working public servants at risk, and fail to appreciate how deeply democratic and American our national parks and public lands are.”

Communal ownership of vacant land is democratic? I thought there was another word for that.

That extreme movement must include the Nevada Legislature and a majority of Nevada’s Washington delegation, who have put forth modest efforts to transfer to the state control a little more than 10 percent of the federal public lands in the state — which currently amounts to about 85 percent of the state, the highest percentage of any state.

That extreme movement must include the voters of Nevada, who in 1996 voted to remove from the state Constitution the so-called Disclaimer Clause, in which the residents of the Nevada Territory in 1864 agreed that the residents of the state of Nevada would forgo forever all claim to unappropriated land inside its borders.

Jewell claimed that an analysis by a non-profit group found that natural areas in the West are disappearing at the rate of a football field every two and a half minutes.

“If you add that all up, you’re looking at a pretty bleak picture,” she warned. “If we stay on this trajectory, 100 years from now, national parks and wildlife refuges will be like postage stamps of nature on a map. Isolated islands of conservation with run-down facilities that crowds of Americans visit like zoos to catch a glimpse of our nation’s remaining wildlife and undeveloped patches of land.”

In a mere century we will have paved paradise and put up a parking lot!

According to the Congressional Research Service, there are 623 million acres of land in this country controlled by various federal agencies — Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, Park Service and Department of Defense. If one bulldozed a football field-sized tract every two and half minutes, why there would be no federal land left in a mere 2,700 years.

The Congressional Research Service noted that over a 24-year period from 1990 through 2013 total federal land acreage did decline by 3.6 percent, mostly from the sale of BLM and Defense property, while the other agencies actually grew in land mass. This occurred while the population of the United States grew by 26 percent.

Over the same 24-year period, total federal land holdings in Nevada also declined, but by only 0.6 percent. This while the population of the state grew by 133 percent. At that rate, there would be no federally controlled land in Nevada in a mere 4,325 years.

Of course, Jewell also took the opportunity of this speech to implore Congress to give her more money so she can better “manage” these rapidly disappearing holdings.

A report from the Nevada Public Land Management Task Force, which was created by the Nevada Legislature, noted that the BLM loses 91 cents an acre on the land it controls, but in the four states that have public trust land revenues amounted to $28.59 per acre. The report estimated that Nevada could net $114 million by taking over just 4 million acres of the BLM’s 48 million acres. Taking over all 48 million acres could net the state more than $1.5 billion — nearly half the annual general fund budget.

Meanwhile in Washington, a year ago Rep. Mark Amodei introduced a bill calling for transferring federal land to the state in phases. The initial phase would authorize the state to select no less than 7.2 million acres of public land for conveyance to Nevada.

More recently, Sens. Dean Heller and Harry Reid introduced a bill that would allow Pershing County, after 30 years of discussions, to consolidate checkerboard lands along the old railroad right of way with some becoming public and some private. Up to 150,000 acres would be sold for economic development while a similar acreage would be declared wilderness. It could be a model for other counties to pursue.

The bills are pending.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

Basin and Range National Monument seized by presidential fiat. (LA Times)

43 comments on “Newspaper column: Jewell feels a drop of rain and declares sky is falling

  1. Patrick says:

    Benjamin Franklin a communist? “Gasp”:

    “”All the Property that is necessary to a man, for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species, is his natural right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all property superfluous to such purposes is the property of the publick, who, by their laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the welfare of the publick shall demand such disposition. He that does not like civil society on these terms, let him retire and live among savages.”

    Yet another Founding Father, Thomas Paine also a communist? “Shocked, shocked I say”:

    “Paine, in 1795’s Agrarian Justice, puts it even more bluntly: “Personal property is the effect of society; and it is as impossible for an individual to acquire personal property without the aid of society, as it is for him to make land originally.”

    “Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich,” he writes.”

    ““There are two kinds of property. Firstly, natural property, or that which comes to us from the Creator of the universe – such as the earth, air, water. Secondly, artificial or acquired property – the invention of men. In the natural property all individuals have legitimate birthrights. Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvement only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property…”

    And Thomas Jefferson a communist?

    “Whenever there are in a country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate the natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided for those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed…”

    And Abraham Lincoln too?

    ““The land, the earth God gave man for his home, sustenance, and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society, or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water.” – Abraham Lincoln”

    Man, that public school indoctrination about what these guys said about “communal property”, was wrong; wonder where it came from?

  2. Madison:

    So much of the fourth clause as related to the seat of government was agreed to, new. con. On the residue, to wit, “to exercise like authority over all places purchased for forts, & c.”– MR. GERRY contended that this power might be made use of to enslave any particular state by buying up its territory, and that the strongholds proposed would be a means of awing the state into an undue obedience to the general government. MR. KING thought himself the provision unnecessary, the power being already involved; but would move to insert, after the word “purchased,” the words, “by the consent of the legislature of the state.” This would certainly make the power safe. MR. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS seconded the motion, which was agreed to, nem. con,; as was then the residue of the clause, as amended.

  3. Patrick says:

    John Locke:

    “it is very clear, that God, as king
    David says, Psal. cxv. 16. has given the earth to the children of men; given
    it to mankind in common. But this being supposed, it seems to some a very
    great difficulty, how any one should ever come to have a property in any
    thing: I will not content myself to answer, that if it be difficult to make
    out property, upon a supposition that God gave the world to Adam, and his
    posterity in common, it is impossible that any man, but one universal
    monarch, should have any property upon a supposition, that God gave the
    world to Adam, and his heirs in succession, exclusive of all the rest of his
    posterity. But I shall endeavour to shew, how men might come to have a
    property in several parts of that which God gave to mankind in common, and
    that without any express compact of all the commoners.”

    Sec. 26. God, who hath given the world to men in common, hath also given
    them reason to make use of it to the best advantage of life, and
    convenience. The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the
    support and comfort of their being. And tho’ all the fruits it naturally
    produces, and beasts it feeds, belong to mankind in common, as they are
    produced by the spontaneous hand of nature; and no body has originally a
    private dominion, exclusive of the rest of mankind, in any of them…”

  4. … yet being given for the use of men, there
    must of necessity be a means to appropriate them some way or other, before
    they can be of any use, or at all beneficial to any particular man. The
    fruit, or venison, which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no enclosure,
    and is still a tenant in common, must be his, and so his, i.e. a part of
    him, that another can no longer have any right to it, before it can do him
    any good for the support of his life.

  5. Don’t you just love Patrick’s history lessons and theological discussion? No, NO, and HELL NO!

  6. Patrick says:


    True, it’s not your propaganda version of the Founding Fathers, but it is the facts.

  7. Steve says:

    Facts, selectively chosen to represent a particular view….yes indeed.

  8. Rincon says:

    As if the Founding Fathers were prophets.

    As with most things, the truth lies in the middle. While there’s a lot of land in Nevada that could be put into private hands without causing great destruction, Illinois is a prime example of what happens when the market decides land use. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois prairie now covers a total of 6100 acres, with only 2350 acres, 0.01% of the original endowment, considered high quality. Although Conservatives see no value in it anyway, it is a fact that the Illinois prairie is essentially gone.

  9. Steve says:

    No worries, Rincon.
    They’re plastering Nevada’s public lands with solar panels.

    Great stewardship by people 2000 miles away, huh?

  10. Patrick says:


    As with conservatives mouthing the words “you can’t throw money at the problem” when it comes to school funding (while out of the other side of their mouths claiming that we can and should do that when it comes to the defense problem) their clams about turning public land over to private parties because of some pretense that “this is what the founding fathers wanted” is just provably nonsense.

    If they just had the integrity to say “I’d rather the Koch Brothers owned every bit of Yellowstone National Park” so that it could be turned into a paper mill, where the brothers evil could pollute and destroy at will, at least (and at most) I could say they’re being honest.

    Instead, these mealy mouthed worms, PC at their core, try to trump up some “founding father” nonsense even though these claims are provably incorrect and really blasphemous considering that, as I’ve shown, this is nearly the OPPOSITE of what many, if not all, of those folks believed.

    Let the right be honest, for once, about what it is they want. THEN “our beloved republic” can decide what kind of country we want; one where multi billionaires lord over untold tracks of land keeping little people like you and me out at the speaking end of a gun, or one where people like you and me can roam, as former republican President Theodore Roosevelt thought was right and just.

    I deplore the lying as much as anything.

  11. Patrick says:

    Lest anyone claim that I had some unreasonable idea that the brother Evil were behind this:

    “We are now seeing yet another iteration of that hardy but misguided western impulse. These state legislative efforts are nothing more than corporate-backed messaging tools that can be traced to conservative front groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and Americans for Prosperity, as we discuss further below. The proposals run directly contrary to abundant evidence that Americans and westerners support federal management of their public lands and value the economic benefits those lands provide, especially when they are protected from mining and drilling and are used instead for recreation and other more sustainable purposes.”

  12. Steve says:

    Wordy sham.

  13. Rincon says:

    Wordy sham? That’s a rebuttal? I think you can say, “concession noted”, Patrick.

    Now that I’ve given Steve my little jab, I have to agree that the government surely doesn’t need the large percentage of land that it owns, but it would be nice if we had a little more government land in Illinois.

  14. Steve says:

    Nope, Patrick is doing the same crap he always does, introducing deflection and sham.

    And this time, it’s wordier than usual.

  15. Patrick says:


    Do the brothers evil deserve the land more than the citizens of the US though? Because that is the real question.

  16. Butler:

    He could distinguish, and divide
    A hair ‘twixt south, and south-west side:
    On either which he would dispute,
    Confute, change hands, and still confute,
    He’d undertake to prove, by force
    Of argument, a man’s no horse;
    He’d prove a buzzard is no fowl …

  17. Patrick says:

    “Teach a man to fish and he will fish until there are no more fish”


  18. Steve says:

    See, Rincon….not about giving land to the states, Patrick has turned it into a “hate anything Koch” sham deflection.

  19. Rincon says:

    Depends on the rules. Knowing the political influence of the rich in this country, it wouldn’t surprise me if only mega tracts of land are sold, disqualifying the average person from buying. Auctioning both small and large tracts a little at a time is probably reasonable.

  20. Steve says:

    See that, Rincon?
    You fell for Patrick’s bait. The topic is about state control vs federal control over the public lands.
    Patrick wants you to believe it’s all about the “richy rich the wealthy asshole” taking it all away from everyone.
    The topic is not what Patrick wants to argue.

  21. Patrick says:


    As I said, the right cannot raise these issues with any honesty because the vast majority of Americans do not want federal lands turned over to billionaires. So they do what they do best; they lie. They propagandized about the terrible way the lands are being handled, the claim that poor old multi millionaire welfare ranchers can’t make an honest living anymore. They feign real sorrow about the horses and burros and other creatures small and large that are suffering (funny, most of the time, you hear folks on the right talking about how it’s the left that’s out there hugging trees, but for their nefarious purposes here, their willing to hug a few trees or a few turtles)

    But the REAL purpose is as I said; to get public resources transferred into their hands for cheap.

    “Over the past five years, a coalition made up of conservative activists, anti-government extremists, and the conservative network built by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch has reenergized the land grab movement. A 2012 Center for American Progress report profiled the emergence of this coalition and described how it has lobbied Western state legislatures to pass laws demanding that the federal government cede control of national forests and other public lands to state ownership. At the heart of the coalition are the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, an organization of conservative lawmakers that is funded by the fossil fuel industry and other corporations; the American Lands Council, or ALC, an organization with ties to the mining industry that is under investigation for ethics and lobbying violations; the Property and Environment Research Center, or PERC, which is funded by the Koch brothers; and Americans for Prosperity, which is also a Koch-funded organization. The mining and energy interests—including companies owned by Charles and David Koch—behind these groups would presumably reap substantial financial gains if U.S. public lands, energy resources, and minerals were transferred to state control or sold off to the highest bidder.”

    Superficial minds grab onto the red meat the Koch Brothers controlled interests throw out to them, acting as if this is a big bad gov’ment vs rugged individualists like the Brothers evil, but the truth is that this is the average citizen against the wealthy wanna be oligarchs.

  22. Steve says:

    And there you have the proof of what I say, Patrick is all about the sham, the distraction, the false equivalency and simply lying to try and change things to be what he wants to argue rather than what the topic really is.

    If the central scrutinizer gets to control Utah lands, then those lands will no longer be available to the public who currently have access and enjoy them on a daily basis.
    The same thing goes for the rest of western lands.
    It should be in state control, not federal control. The central scrutinizer should have its wings clipped.

  23. Patrick says:

    From a real newspaper that actually represents the citizens, rather than the Koch brothers.

  24. Winston Smith says:

    Simply put, patrick loves the power of the federal government, and anything that might minimize that power should be demonized in any way possible. Disinterpreting the Founders is one of his chief weapons. After fear and surprise, of course…

  25. Patrick says:


    A very good link to a New york Times article within the story below titled “The Geography of Nope”. Highly recommended.

  26. Patrick says:

    Simply put, Winston is a stooge whose actions, ideas, and words, would create a world he would hate, he’s just too ignorant to know it.

  27. Steve says:

    Ahh, Winston. Be proud, you have attracted the ire of the sham king.

    Sham king will give up when it becomes clear all he is doing is attacking from weakness.

  28. Patrick says:


    A really good list of the legislative initiatives bought and paid for by the Koch brothers, along with citations, to how they are manipulating the well meaning, and the stooges alike.

    Truly heinous.

    Click to access The-Kochs-and-Public-Lands.pdf

  29. Patrick says:


    Please check out page 18, in the above article; little transparency about NPRI.

    “According to Donor’s Capital Fund tax (a Koch funded fund) return, Donor’s Capital Fund made 13 contributions to NPRI between 2005-2012 totaling more than 1.3 MILLION dollars.”

  30. Steve says:

    The topic is state control of lands vs federal control of lands.

    Look at that…Patrick is really trying to make it all about “Koch hate”

    See it?

    If you don’t, you are really blind.

  31. Kill the messenger. Kill the donor. Pay no heed to what is said. If it is funded by certain people, it is to be ignored and/or denigrated.

  32. Rincon says:

    Yeah, sure. And the Civil War was all about states’ rights.

  33. Patrick says:

    Pay heed to what is done.

    These Koch funded entities are intended to, and do, act to further the Koch brothers control over US property.

    Pay heed to that, and if that idea thrills you, then support them. And if it doesn’t, fight them, and their propaganda.

    But good luck trying get them to call a thing by it’s real name when they have willing stooges around who are happy to accept the BS they offer as justifications.

  34. Steve says:

    And there you (again) have it. With Patrick it’s all about hate, not discussion.

  35. Nowhere in the Constitution is there a prohibition against leaving the Union.

  36. Rincon says:

    Seems to me that Nevada was originally federal land. The federal government decided to make it a state, but there were conditions attached. We can argue the finer points about the legality of not ceding land to the state. We can also argue about whether it would be for the best to do so. With the Koch brothers funding a large effort to acquire federal land, it is reasonable to suspect that with their vast holdings in extractive industries, they might be the greatest beneficiaries of such a move. It is also reasonable to insist that opportunity be given to average citizens to acquire what might be called their fair share. Taking something owned by the people and handing it over to a few billionaires at bargain basement prices would be unwise. I have no objection ceding some land in a fair manner,

  37. Steve says:

    Which shall be sold….leaves no room for anything other than the federal government selling the lands to the state of Nevada.

    Sham arguments mean nothing.

  38. Rincon says:

    Generally, states don’t buy land, citizens do.

  39. Steve says:

    That was true until the US expanded into the west.
    What is being proposed today is state control of lands within their borders.

  40. Patrick says:


    State not only can’t afford to buy land (if you listen to conservatives today, they’ll tell you, constantly, that states can afford to do what it is their already doing. Strange that now, for some reason, conservatives think states have enough money to buy land right). Not only can’t they afford to buy land, if you look at the links I provided, most of them would have to spend 50% of their budget to maintain the amount of land some of them are demanding the federal government turn over to them, even if it were FREE.

    There is no intention by state legislators to simply turn what was federal land into state land, the intention is to turn federal land into private land, which means turning it into land owned and destroyed by the Koch brothers and other billionaires. Take a look at the link I provided earlier that talks about the brothers evils holdings in Montana. Again, it just heinous.

    Click to access The-Kochs-and-Public-Lands.pdf

  41. Steve says:

    “brothers evils “

  42. Rincon says:

    So as opposed to general grousing and complaining, has anyone presented a serious proposal about the nuts and bolts?

  43. […] no heed to the fact that a report from the Nevada Public Land Management Task Force, which was created by the Nevada Legislature, found that the BLM loses 91 cents an acre on the […]

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