The folly of “taking back” the West — High Country News Ted Williams Opinion Jan. 20, 2016 Web Exclusive
Do 700 million acres of national parks, national monuments, national forests, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management units belong to you and your fellow Americans? No, according to the increasingly popular notion in the West that it’s time for states to “take back” federal land.
“Taking back” property that belongs to Alaskans and Floridians and everyone in between is even a plank in the GOP platform. A resolution, entitled “In Support of Western States Taking Back Public Lands” reads: “The Republican National Committee calls upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing Western states.”
Taking back something that never belonged to you presents multiple problems, not the least of which is semantics. But this has never discouraged proponents whose first order of business is to ignore constitutional law.
Here’s a fact they don’t want you to know: As a condition for entering the union, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Nevada disclaimed all legal right and title to unappropriated public lands.