Skinner: “Lies of the Land,” The Land Transfer Debate

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Dave Skinner has another must-read piece concerning the potential transfer of federal lands into state hands.  Here’s his latest in The Flathead Beacon: Lies of the Land; Greens, of course, are fine with the current dysfunction, as it empowers them, not average Montanans


Ranchers would see their grazing fees increase. Pure cow flop. Private land grazing costs around $20-23 per AUM (animal unit, basically a cow/calf pair) in Montana according to USDA, with Montana’s state trust minimum being about $6.12/AUM, with a relatively few competitive leases bringing fees about 80 percent of the private rate. So the federal monthly grazing fee of $1.35/AUM (snarlingly protected by Western congresscritters) seems dirt cheap.

But Greens won’t admit “cheap” federal fees come with a huge downside of risk. Litigation all across the West has given federal AUMs a bad habit of disappearing at the worst possible moment – becoming unavailable at any price, often permanently. Would savvy ranchers pay more for predictability? Gladly.

Montana will go broke managing new trust lands. Oh, like the Feds aren’t already broke? The fact is, DNRC state trust lands make money for Montana education – not much, but unlike the Feds, DNRC pays its freight. If Montana has the chance to buy productive lands now held hostage to lousy federal policy at fair market value, might we make it a success?



Friday, November 21, 2014 1:41 PM

Transfer of Public lands is THE solution to our enslavement to the central federal beltway. Transfer of Public Lands will enrich Montanans, Montana Communities will prosper, Montana’s’ wildlife will benefit. Montana’s forests and prairies will benefit. It’s a win win plan. Those who oppose the TPL have their noses buried deep in the trough of federal subsidy, grants, and handouts.

Friday, November 21, 2014 8:19 PM

The ONLY “federal land” in America should be D.C.
According to the 10th Amendment, EVERYTHING else should be private or state-controlled.

Andy J.

Sunday, November 23, 2014 4:05 PM

I cannot support transferring Fed lands to the States. For starters, there is a whole flock of laws dealing with Fed lands that began with the Louisiana Purchase, including, and most importantly in my view, the Mining Law of 1872. It is the LAST law on the books that guarantees access by Citizens to their public lands. I can just imagine what our current governor would do with that.

No, our current land management mess we can trace back to our peanut farmer President, Jimmy Carter. He politicized our land management agencies to give deference to wildlife/wilderness issues instead of commodity resource development. We can move wilderness and wildlife, we have to develop our commodities where they are. Commodity resource production creates basic economic wealth. Wilderness/wildlife wealth creation pales in comparison.

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